When we think of transportation in the United States, we don’t always think of rivers. But according to designer Theo Rindos, the country’s waterways are still worthy of travel. He designed a subway-style map of America’s major rivers inspired by Harry Beck’s 1933 London Underground Tube Map. The new map reveals how rivers connect cities and national parks throughout the country.
Rindos, a Yonkers-based illustrator, grew up in Montana near the Yellowstone River, where he spent his childhood rafting, tubing, and fly fishing. He translated his love for the water into a crisp subway map, Major Rivers of the United States, featuring the country’s major rivers like the Mississippi River, the Rio Grande, and, of course, the Yellowstone River.
Data from the United States Geological Survey, Wikipedia, and Google Maps helped Rindos draw up the map, with the the iconic 1930’s map influencing his design. Rindos told CityLab, “London is a very old city and the streets are not laid out in a grid, but Harry found a way to transform something chaotic into something clean, readable, and beautiful. I wanted to take something completely natural and structure it as a transit system, because technically these rivers once were and still are a form of transportation.”
He prioritized rivers key today in shipping and transportation, although left some, like the Potomac River, off the map for aesthetic purposes. The ends of each line generally indicate river sources. Stops on the map are towns and cities along the waterways. Smaller rivers, like the Pecos River or the Sacramento River, are drawn on as bus routes. Rindos also divided the country up into 18 Watershed Hydraulic Unit Code zones, like New England or the Great Lakes.
Rindos’ subway map is available for purchase online here.
Images © Theo Rindos