The London Tube: An Iconic Design and Worldly Symbol

When reading the LA Times article, “The Map London has in its Head”, I immediately was intrigued. Focusing on London’s “Tube”, this article discusses the significance of its design, and underlying meaning. Aside from the interesting subject matter, I thought it made effective use of simple language and was very clear and concise. These qualities were exhibited evenly throughout, making this article a well thought out and properly articulated piece of writing.

According to LifeHack writer, Dustin Wax, there are eight qualities that display powerful writing. Using these qualities not only keeps readers attention, but keeps them engaged and interested as well. These qualities include writing that is readable, focused, concrete, gracefully developed, flows properly, compelling, passionate and is well suited for the audience. I thought “The Map London has in its Head” demonstrated excellent usage of these characteristics.

The passage below exhibits a few of the eight qualities of powerful writing.

“Instantly recognizable the world over, the simple yet elegant diagram of the 249-mile subway network is hailed as one of the great images of the 20th century, a marvel of graphic design. Its rainbow palette, clean angles and pleasing if slightly old-fashioned font (Johnston, for typography buffs) have endured since hurried passengers first stuffed pocket versions of the map into their raincoats in 1933.”

This passage is both readable and focused. The language is easy to understand, while also being descriptive, explaining exactly what the Tube entails and what the model looks like. Staying on topic, the article correctly presents its information and flows in an organized manner. By addressing passengers and their raincoats, the writer also gives a humanistic and personal touch to the piece.

Later, the article addresses the design of the Tube and its importance by relating it to Londoners.

Perhaps most impressively, the image is stamped onto Londoners’ brains. If the Tube is how people get around London, the Tube map is how many conceive of this sprawling city, their sense of its geography shaped — and sometimes warped — by the drawing’s streamlined, reductive layout.

Tell a Londoner the name of a neighborhood on the other side of town, and you may get a blank stare; mention the closest Underground line and station, and the mental GPS kicks in.”

Here, several more qualities are demonstrated. The article is concrete, by addressing how the design of the Tube is utilized by everyday people, truly showing and demonstrating its importance rather than trying to explain it. Providing this example of how the Tube has become an imprint within local’s minds, means much more than just explaining its impact in words. The article is compelling in explaining how the Tube’s simple model of an underground station has become a signature part of London and how it holds a piece of Londoner’s hearts. It is a place that explains their daily commute, while also representing their beloved home.

Overall, I thought this article was well-constructed and very powerful. Explaining the layout and colors of the design, while also putting it in real-life, the article was both informative and relatable. Who knew, years after this design was made by an electrician, that it would later become an iconic symbol throughout the world.

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