The Map That Outlasted Its Maker?



Once upon a time, a transit enthusiast by the name of N.Q. Duong came to me and showed me his website (now defunct; you can check it out through the Wayback Machine; thanks to Rod Taylor for pointing this out) called “Toronto’s Transit First Plan”. In it, he detailed a 17 phase plan to extend the TTC’s subway network across Toronto. He’d split the Yonge and University lines at Union, extend them west to Sherway and east through the Portlands. He’d add subways beneath Don Mills, Eglinton Avenue and Sheppard West, and he’d amalgamate the Bloor-Danforth and the Scarborough RT into a single line.

The centrepiece of his website was a map that mimicked the look and feel of the classic black background subway route maps you see over the doors of Toronto’s subway cars. It was a professional looking map and a professional looking site. My only advice to him was to change the black background to a white background, as the TTC’s marketing department was protective of their black background map, and didn’t like modifications to their map that aped their look too closely. Switching the map to a white background seemed to mollify copyright concerns.

The website went up, and it later went down, but the map has survived, and has started appearing on Toronto area blogs, with people writing wistfully about the system that could have been, and wondering who produced the original map. The buzz has even attracted the attention of a reporter at the Globe and Mail, who showed the map to Howard Moscoe and David Miller for comment.

Mr. N.Q. Duong, if you’re reading this, I hope you’re enjoying the birth of an interesting urban legend. In honour, we’ve added the fantasy map to our archives.

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