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Subway series

Screen Shot 2013-04-17 at 9.28.42 PM

Abby points us to a spare but cool visualization. I don’t like the curvy connect-the-dots line, but my main suggested improvement would be a closer link to the map. Showing median income on census tracts along subway lines is cool, but ultimately it’s a clever gimmick that pulls me in and makes me curious about what the map looks like. (And, thanks to google, the map was easy to find.)

Screen Shot 2013-04-17 at 9.29.42 PM


  1. polymath says:

    Neat vis. The curvy connect-the-dots line is representative of the way a subway route appears on an MTA map, which to me seems clever without being distracting.

    If it were more closely tied to the map as you suggest, you should then see a geographic connect-the-dots line that looks about the same. And that would be way cool.

  2. Alex Coppock says:

    I like it! Does anyone out there know how it was made (i.e. software)?

  3. Andreas Baumann says:

    I don’t know. There is a certain joy of playing with the interactive element that you don’t get from a plain – if more informative – map.

    • Andrew says:


      I agree. I’m not saying to get rid of the interactive graph, just to link it to the map, so that, once I’m hooked in by the graph, I can directly go to the map and satisfy my deeper curiosity. The graph is an excellent tool in motivating me to learn more.

  4. malecki says:

    Noah Veltman made this alternate version, using width of the subway lines for income.

  5. Kaiser says:

    A coworker showed me this graphic, and I had the same reaction as Andrew.
    They can take the median household map and put the locations of the subway stations on the map. Then set up the interactive element such that when you highlight a station, it lights up the entire subway line so you can see that the subway passes through different neighborhoods.
    I think that version is better in almost every way … the exception being heights versus color to indicate differential income.
    Then, I think back to what was the research agenda/reason for looking at subway line and income. The authors didn’t explain what they were trying to prove/disprove.

  6. Karl Broman says:

    I like the line plot. It would be good to have it integrated with the map-based version, but this one is sort like having a plot of elevation along a hiking trail, to supplement a map with contour lines (which I find harder to read).

    The key point is one we all know: the choice of graphic depends on the questions you’re asking. We can say, “I don’t like this, because it’s not addressing my question of interest,” but one must admit that it’s addressing a particular question quite well.

  7. Malecki says:

    Here’s a map from Noah Veltman showing the line on the map, with line thickness proportional to income.