If you live in the Boston area, I have a geographical mind-jogger for you.
Considering only light and heavy rail stations (so, including the five colored lines, but excluding buses and the commuter rail):
1) Which station is the closest to the geographical midpoint between Alewife and Braintree?
2) Which station is the closest to the geographical midpoint between Forest Hills and Oak Grove?
3) Which station is the closest to the geographical midpoint between Lechmere and Riverside?
4) Which station is the closest to the geographical midpoint between Bowdoin and Wonderland?
5) Which station is the closest to the geographical midpoint between Chelsea and Dudley?
And you could look at the map above, because it won’t help you much.
If you’re familiar with several metro/subway maps, you probably know by now that they aren’t drawn to scale. The MBTA, however, has a feature that several other system maps also have that might make one think the map is remotely to scale: it depicts bodies of water in the system area.
And not only does it bother to depict the water, it bothers to depict it with substantial accuracy: the shape of the waterways on the map really do resemble the actual geographic shapes of the coastline and the rivers to a surprising level of detail. It even bothers to clarify the lagoon at Castle Island.
On the other hand, the actual rail lines are nowhere near that straight.
So here’s a question: does the accuracy of water details give the map reader a false impression of geographic accuracy in the rail lines depicted?
In any case, it’s quite impressive that one map manages to juxtapose such a careful attention to accuracy in bodies of water with such a bare-bones depiction of the system lines, a discrepancy in detail that feels like a challenge to achieve.
To what degree of discrepancy? Well, here’s the answers.
1) Fields Corner is closest to halfway between Alewife and Braintree.
2) Kendall is closest to halfway between Forest Hills and Oak Grove.
3) Boston College is closest to halfway between Lechmere and Riverside.
4) Wood Island is closest to halfway between Bowdoin and Wonderland.
5) Haymarket is closest to halfway between Chelsea and Dudley.