Background Info

On January 10, 1863, the London Underground (also known as the "Tube") opened to passengers. The London Underground is the world’s oldest underground railway. Initial service ran between London Paddington station and Farringdon station. Forty thousand passengers were carried on the first day of service. Today, more than 3 million people ride the Underground every day.

Currently, the London Underground has more than 402 kilometers (250 miles) of track serving 270 stations; it is the longest rapid-transit system in the world. Navigating this system is made easier by the iconic London Underground map, designed by Harry Beck in 1931. Beck’s map used a schematic diagram approach, showing relative locations, rather than actual geographic locations, in order to simplify the highly dense information.

Vocabulary

Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry

dense

Adjective

having parts or molecules that are packed closely together.

initial

Adjective

first.

map

Noun

symbolic representation of selected characteristics of a place, usually drawn on a flat surface.

Encyclopedic Entry: map

railway

Noun

stretch of railroad between two points.

relative location

Noun

general spot where something is located; its place in relation to something else.

schematic diagram

Noun

representation of a system that uses symbols or graphics.

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Editor

Caryl-Sue, National Geographic Society

Producer

Mary Crooks, National Geographic Society

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