1913 public transport 3D map

Leafing through Brinton’s 1914 book ‘Graphic methods for presenting facts’ I found this example of a 3D map that has elements of a Sankey diagram.

This map (photo taken from an exhibit at a 1913 exhibition) shows passenger numbers on the Frankfurt streetcar lines (back then when trams were still called streetcars!)

Brinton explains that “we have a map presentation in which quantities are represented by building vertically above the various routes laid out on the map … made by strips of wood, alternately black and white, glued carefully above each one of the street-car routes. Each of the strips of wood represents 4,000 passengers carried on the street-car lines in 24 hours” (page 224).

The built up flows showing passenger numbers would, if laid sideways, indeed make a Sankey diagram. Building them up using the third map dimension avoids the issue of dealing with wide Sankey arrows in a dense city center, where passenger numbers are highest.

Brinton’s book, although over 105 years from its publication still makes for a great read (as does his 1939 book on ‘Graphic Presentation’, which is basically a sample book for doing infographics).