Reni Eddo-Lodge, Rebecca Solnit, and Emma Watson reveal reimagined Tube map to mark International Women's Day:
City of Women redraws Transport for London’s iconic underground map, with each station named after women and non-binary people who have shaped London.
Londoners Reni Eddo-Lodge and Emma Watson have reimagined the Tube map in collaboration with Rebecca Solnit to celebrate the lives of women and non-binary people who have left a lasting impact on the city. The new map, unveiled on International Women’s Day in partnership with Transport for London, replaces the names of familiar stations with those of figures from arts, sports, activism, science, media, law, medicine and beyond. An interactive, digital version developed by UCL allows people to learn more about each person and their inspiring lives.
Instead of Bond Street, Notting Hill Gate, Warren Street, Paddington, Euston Square, Waterloo, Bank or Lancaster Gate, the City of Women London Tube map invites us to mind the gap at Audrey Hepburn, Claudia Jones, Virginia Woolf, Mary Seacole, Noor Inayat Khan, Agnes Beckwith, Boudica or Jung Chang.
Rather than the overwhelmingly male landed gentry and aristocrats commemorated in the names that punctuate our commutes, Eddo-Lodge, Watson and Solnit centre past and present trailblazers, icons and unsung heroes, including suffragettes Rosa May Billinghurst and Sophia Duleep Singh; ethologist Dr Jane Goodall; sportswomen Alex Scott, Anne Wafula Strike and Maud Watson; writers Radclyffe Hall, Aphra Behn and Malorie Blackman; artists and photographers Sutapa Biswas, Kim Lim and Dorothy Bohm; figures from fashion such as Naomi Campbell and Zandra Rhodes; musicians and singers Vera Lynn, Evelyn Dove, Sade and Dua Lipa; lawyers Gwyneth Bebb, Minoo Jalali, and Amal Clooney; educationalists Elizabeth Jesser Reid and Bushra Nasir; figures from healthcare such as Elizabeth Anionwu and Elizabeth Garrett Anderson; scientists, innovators and astronomers such as Rosalind Franklin, Ada Lovelace, Fiammetta Wilson and many more.
Activists, organisers and changemakers on issues from labour rights and racial justice to LGBTQI rights and climate justice are also celebrated, including individuals such as Lady Phyll Opoku-Gyimah, Olive Morris, Shani Dhanda, Consuelo Moreno Yusti, Octavia Hill, Jayaben Desai, Fatima Ibrahim, The Bonita Chola, Yvette Williams, Christine Burns, Ada Salter, and Phoebe Dimacali, as well as collectives such as the Match Girls, the striking women and girls from Bryant & May’s match factory in Bow who changed the course of Britain’s labour movement; the Ford sewing machinists in Dagenham whose campaigning helped usher in the Equal Pay Act 1970; Awaz (the UK Asian Women’s Collective) and OWAAD (the Organisation of Women of African and Asian Descent) who picketed Heathrow Airport to protest against the government’s virginity testing of migrant women, and Sisters of Frida, a contemporary disabled women’s collective.
Trailblazing women from TfL’s history are also included such as Hannah Dadds, the first female Tube driver, Jill Viner, the first female bus driver, and current emergency planning manager Joan Saunders-Reece – who was not only the first woman to drive a Victoria line train but also the first female Tube driver instructor.
In some cases, names have been placed at a station based in a part of London linked to their life or work. The inclusion of several non-binary people on the map recognises the resonance between their remarkable lives and undertakings and the anti-patriarchal spirit of the City of Women project (in all cases, they are in full agreement about their inclusion).
The London project is inspired by Solnit and Jelly-Schapiro’s acclaimed book Nonstop Metropolis, in which they reworked the New York City subway map to celebrate women who had made their mark on the city. The map then became an iconic poster and sparked numerous conversations about public space, history, gender, feminism, and memory.
Rebecca Solnit said, “Throughout the world, most places that are named after people are named after men, amplifying male roles and deeds and erasing women and girls all over again. In 2016 I co-created a map that renamed every subway stop in New York after a significant woman from that city, and Emma Watson was so smitten with that map that she brought Reni Eddo-Lodge on board to lead a project to do the same with London’s famous Tube map. We are delighted to put City of Women London out this spring and further the conversation about visibility and representation as they relate to gender, and we hope it launches a million conversations about what places have been and what they could be.”
Reni Eddo-Lodge said, “As a Londoner, I've walked the streets of this city for decades, not conscious of the fact that so many of the city's place names have a fascinating etymology. These iconic places are named after pubs, and parks, gates and members of the monarchy, but I was excited to give the map a feminist refresh. Our map switches the focus to women and non binary people, contemporary and historic, who have made indelible marks on the city's trajectory. I hope it helps you think about your surroundings differently!”
Emma Watson said, “Public space is and has always been political. Statues and place names work to memorialise the power of the day, venerating some and invisibilising others. And London is no exception. In London there are more statues of animals than there are women, and only 14 per cent of blue plaques are dedicated to women. This project seeks to upend the logic that has so consistently marginalised women from mainstream accounts of London history by re-inscribing them as an intrinsic part of the city’s most iconic map. We hope this map encourages Londoners to take a second glance at places we might once have taken for granted, celebrate women who have achieved extraordinary things, and explore the lives of people hidden from us by time, space, and systemic bias. All maps are deeply personal, subjective, and partial, and this map is simply our own feminist commemoration of just some of London’s local histories. International Women’s Day is an opportunity to reexamine, reclaim and re-envisage public spaces and public histories, and we hope the project inspires you to create your own memory maps of cities around the world based on the women that have inspired you.”
Marcia Williams, Transport for London’s Director of Diversity, Inclusion and Talent, said: “This wonderful reimaging of our iconic London Tube map reminds us of just how much of everyday life is gendered, and in a way that historically underplayed the impact of women and non-binary people in shaping the world around us. I'm delighted that this project celebrates these pioneers (including some of our own transport heroes), and brings their stories into the light and literally puts them on the map for everyone to rediscover.”
Debbie Weekes-Bernard, Deputy Mayor for Communities and Social Justice, said: “The City of Women map is a wonderful celebration of the contribution women and non-binary people have made to our city. It invites Londoners and visitors to learn more about amazing women, past and present, who have inspired us, encouraged us and changed the world we live in. This is a great way to mark International Women’s Day – an important day when we mark the achievements of women across the world.”
Alongside the City of Women poster map, an interactive digital version has been developed by academics at The Bartlett Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis, UCL (University College London), led by Dr Leah Lovett. This living digital resource (cityofwomenlondon.org) will launch with featured biographies and interviews from contemporary women and non-binary people, providing a freely-accessible educational resource to deepen public understanding of London lives. To mark Women’s History Month during March, the map will continue to grow after launch as detailed biographies of historic women will be added throughout the month to celebrate their impact and legacies.
The interactive map uses Memory Mapper, (memorymapper.github.io), software created by Dr Duncan Hay, and builds upon The Bartlett’s research into mapping cultural heritage. This aspect of the project has been made possible thanks to funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, UCL Grand Challenges, and the UCL Centre for Critical Heritage Studies. Thanks also go to The Bartlett Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis and The Bartlett School of Architecture for their support in this work.
Dr Leah Lovett, from The Bartlett Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis, UCL, said, “It’s been a privilege for us as researchers to engage with the stories of the women and non binary people included on this map. The stories are inspirational, and give a rich picture of the myriad ways that the lives represented here have contributed to shape London. Our hope is that the interactive map will invite a deeper exploration of local heritage and the layered history of this city. With Memory Mapper, we are also handing over the tools for people to map the stories of places that are significant to them.”
Notes to editors:
London Underground, better known as the Tube, has 11 lines covering 402km and serving 272 stations. The Tube handles up to five million passenger journeys a day. The standard Tube map is here: http://content.tfl.gov.uk/
The City of Women map is the result of a collaboration launched in 2020 between Reni Eddo-Lodge, Rebecca Solnit, Emma Watson, cartographer Molly Roy, designer Lia Tjandra and Haymarket Books, in partnership with Transport for London, the WOW Foundation and University College London.
This project is inspired by many people and previous projects who have shaped London’s history as well as re-imagined how the city is lived and depicted. In particular, the contributors would like to acknowledge previous reworkings of the London Underground map, such as Moments & Connections: Thin Black Line(s) by Lubaina Himid, We Apologise for the Delay to Your Journey by Thick/er Black Lines, the Literary Tube Map by In The Book, and The Great Bear by Simon Patterson.
The names for the City of Women map were selected by the creators of the project, with input from an advisory group made up of academics, writers, activists and historians. Suggestions were also gathered by consulting with a further group of historians, writers, curators, community organisers, women’s rights organisations, museums, and librarians, and through an open call to the public to submit ideas.
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