New York has a new emoji index for its subway system, so we made you an emoji tube map

Much more readable, right? Image: CityMetric.

According to one Professor Vyv Evans of Bangor University, "Emoji" is the fastest-growing language in the UK.

Yes, Emoji. Those pictures on your phones. The ones on that extra keyboard that you couldn't figure out how to activate for months. Yeah, those.

Perhaps realising that we soon won't be able to communicate through anything but tiny faces and shrimps, New York's public radio station (WNYC) has launched a "subway agony index" using emoji to indicate line statuses.  At a glance, you can see whether a line is running smoothly, or is likely to aggravate you to angry tears through delays and overcrowding. 

WNYC's website explains that the station's data team are "trying to estimate agony on the NYC subway" through the index. The team monitors the time it takes for trains to get to each station, and adds "unhappy points" for stations typically crowded at rush hour. 

Here are the lines as this morning's rush hour in NYC:

The system only covers lines 1 through 6X, but it also gives an emoji rating for individual stations along each line. Here are the stations along line 5's uptown section earlier today: 

London's underground system currently has no such index. Instead, it's reliant on boring old words to describe whatever transport horrors await: 

 

So in order to make sure our compadres across the pond don't trump us in the subway stakes, we decided to make our own tube map, with an emoji for each station in Zone 1. Some reflect speed of service and business (Oxford Circus, we're looking at you); others are a little more, er, abstract. 

When it comes to the status of the lines themselves, the answer for all lines over the next day or so is pretty simple:


Think we got it wrong? Fancy extending our efforts to the outer zones? Drop us a line on Twitter, Facebook or contact us directly

 
 
 
 

How spurious imperial science affected the layout of African cities

Freetown, Sierra Leone. Image: David Hond/Freetown From The Air/Wikimedia Commons.

As the European powers spread across the world, systematically colonising it as they went, one of the deadliest enemies they faced was disease. In 1850s India, one in twenty British soldiers were dying from such diseases – on a par with British Empire casualty rates during World War II.

When Europeans started dropping dead the minute they got off the boat, the scientists of the day rushed to provide their own, at times fairly dodgy, solutions. This era coincided with a key period of city planning in the African colonies – meaning that there is still visible evidence of this shoddy science in the cityscape of many modern African cities.
For a long time altitude was considered a protection against disease, on the grounds that it was far from the lowland heat associated with putrefaction. British officials in India retreated to the ‘hill stations’ during the warm season; this practice continued in the African colonies established by all sorts of European powers in the late 19th century.

So it was that one bunch of imperialists established the capital of German Kamerun at Buea, high on the side of Mount Cameroon. The city still has a population of 90,000 today. Evidence of this height fetish can still be found in the ‘Plateau’ districts of Brazzaville, Dakar and Abidjan as well as the ‘Ridge’ district of Accra.


Malaria, particularly, was an ever present fear in the colonies, and it did much to shape the colonial cities. It’s a sign of the extent to which 19th century medical science misunderstood how the disease was spread that its name comes from the French for ‘bad air’. By the late 19th century, knowledge had managed to progress far enough to identify mosquitoes as the culprits – but views still wildly diverged about the appropriate response.

One solution popular in many empires was segregation. The Europeans had incorrectly identified Africans as the main carriers of the disease; African children under five were believed to be the main source of malaria so they were to be kept far away from the colonists at all times.

And so, many powers decided that the European settlers should be housed in their own separate areas. (Of course, this wrong headed but at least rational response wasn’t the whole explanation: often, sanitary concerns were used to veil simple racial chauvinism.)

The affluent Hill Station – a name reminiscent of the Indian colonies – in Freetown, Sierra Leone was built as a segregated suburb so Europeans could keep well clear of the local children. Today, it’s where the home of the president can be found. Yet despite all this expensive shuffling of Freetown’s urban landscape, inhabitants of Hill Station came down with malaria at about the same as those who lived elsewhere.

 

The Uganda Golf Course, Kampala. Image: Google Maps.

In Kampala, Uganga, a golf course now occupies the land designated by the British powers to protect the European neighbourhood from the African. A similar appropriation can be seen in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of The Congo, where a zoo, botanical garden and another golf course can be found the land earmarked for protecting colonial officials and their families.

All this urban juggling was the privilege of immensely powerful colonial officials, backed up by the military might of the imperial powers. The indigenous peoples could do little but watch as their cities were bulldozed and rebuilt based on the whims of the day. Yet the scars are still visible in the fabric of many modern African cities today.