Paris - Metro.
GIRARD ET BARRÈRE
Published c.1942, Paris
Size: 7.75” X 6.75”
A rare and informative map of the Paris metro system from the early to mid 20th Century. This folding and compact map, backed on linen, was sold by Girard & Barrier, and was produced to inform passengers of the different metro routes of one of the world’s great metropolitan cities, Paris. This compact map provided the viewer the metro routes which overlaid an image of the city plan above ground. Thus commuters of the Paris metro had easy access to information not only to the grid system of the different metro lines, but could also quickly determine the different routes relative to the actual city.
It is worth mentioning that the design of the Paris Metro map is conceptually different than those of introduced in 1933 by Harry Beck for the London Tube. Although Beck tried to introduce his rectilinear and topologic graphic design to the Paris metro, his concept was rejected and the maps depicting the metro lines continued to be portrayed geographically. It has been argued that the reason for this might be attributable to the fact that the Paris Metro lines “interweave with each other more… this gives rise to more interchanges. “
Furthermore, “Parisians use the maps…as a free public service to help them find their way round the city – the ubiquitous geographic wall map is more than just a Metro plan.”
Although this edition of the map is undated, other copies have been found that are dated from 1942. As such, these pocket metro plans would have been quite useful in helping Parisians to find their way in their city during the occupation associated with WWII, because many lines and stations were closed. Furthermore, the French Resistance used the tunnelling system of the metro to organize counter insurgency operations.
As such, this map of the Paris Metro not only provides a alternative design to those associated with Harry Beck and London underground, but remain important historical reminders of the disruption that war has on a civilian population.
(Sources: Harry Beck: The Paris Connection. Sept. 27, 2009)