The London Underground celebrates its 150th birthday today. More commonly known as the Tube, the subway sports an amazing record. Physically, it’s the fourth largest subway system of its kind, trailing similar systems in Beijing, Seoul and Shanghai. It has 270 stations and 250 miles of tracks. It racks up even more miles when the Docklands Light Railway is figured in. Most of the Underground, 55%, is above ground, just to confuse the tourists.
The Tube is the third busiest system right after Moscow and Paris. Through 2011-2012, it carried 1.2 billion passengers.
Harry Beck created the Tube’s iconic map in 1931 that inspired others around the world such as the system maps for Brussels, Belgium, and Atlanta, Georgia. He was the first to design a topological map, indicating linear connections, rather than one that attempted to recreate geography. Beck’s creation is still in use today.
My experience on the Tube a few days ago began in a rather frustrating fashion. Like many others, I discovered repairs on the Piccadilly line that required me to disembark and follow a circuitous route to reach my final destination, Russell Square. Fortunately, a few, young gentlemen offered to carry my heavy duffle up the staircases that loomed before me like the final ascent of Huayna Picchu.
Currently the Lezovi crew is cruising by land through Europe with house sitting assignments in Belgium, England and France. S/V Happy Times lies safely in Rio Dulce, Guatemala, awaiting our return in May 2013.