After all, there were other problems with the System Map. Mr.
Vignelli had modeled it on the hugely popular 1933 diagrammatic
map of the London Underground designed by Harry Beck, a freelance
draughtsman who compiled it in his spare time. Beck’s “diagram,”
as he called it, applied similar organizational principles,
arguably with even greater rigor. Unlike him, Mr. Vignelli had
included some geographical references, by identifying Central Park
and areas like Manhattan and the Bronx. He has since regretted
doing so, arguing that the map should have been wholly abstract,
devoid of such distractions. But Beck’s design was gentler in
style, particularly in its choice of typography, while Mr.
Vignelli used the searingly modern font Helvetica.