Ivan Specht is an 8th grader whose fascination with cities, public transit, and maps has led him to embark on a creative cartography project that belies his age.
The project began as a Father’s Day gift for his dad, who lives in Austin, Texas — a fast growing city in need of new mass transit options. If there were to be a new subway system in Austin, Specht wondered, where would the lines and stations go? So he set about deciding the routes himself. The Father’s Day gift was a hit, and Specht dedicated his summer to starting a business: he would design subway maps for cities that don’t have mass transit systems and sell them as posters or T-shirts on the project’s website. Most of the cities he has mapped so far are ones he knows something about. But if you know a city that could use some imagined mass transit, he also takes commissions.
Inspired by the clean, 45-degree angles of Harry Beck’s iconic map of the London Underground — a graphic rule system that Massimo Vignelli famously adopted for his 1972 map of the New York subway system — Specht’s maps compress space and time. But even as works of imagination, their fidelity to the cities they represent should give transit planners something to think about. […]