This year marks the 80th anniversary of the first public appearance of Henry Beck's Tube map design and the 150th anniversary of the London Underground. Today, the designer was commemorated with an English Heritage blue plaque at his birthplace in Leyton in north-east London.
Featured in our roundup of British Design Classics (opens in new tab), Henry Beck’s iconic London Underground map remains the template for the Tube map used today. Shockingly, it was first rejected by Underground management for being too revolutionary in its geometric approach, but when it finally went in to print it was an immediate success.
Simplicity is key
The simplicity of Beck’s design was the key to its success, with over 850,000 pocket-sized copies printed in the first two months of 1933, and in March of that year Beck produced the first quad royal (40 by 50 inches) poster versions of the map.
London transport museum (opens in new tab) director Sam Mullins said, "Beck’s map was has become a London icon and influenced the design of many Metro maps across the globe, as well as being the inspiration for many contemporary artists and designers.
"His work forms part of the overall design ethic of Transport for London and its predecessor organisations, and his original artwork for the London map and the Paris Metro are both on display in London Transport Museum’s Design for Travel gallery.”
Travelling to London? Take a look at our Designer's Guide to London (opens in new tab).
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