UCL: Redrawing the London Underground map for International Women’s Day

Led by writer Reni Eddo-Lodge and actor Emma Watson, who worked with writer and activist Rebecca Solnit and partnered with Transport for London (TfL), the project – called City of Women – draws from figures in arts, sports, activism, science, media, law, medicine and beyond.

The digital version, developed by Dr Leah Lovett (UCL Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis), allows people to learn more about each person and their lives. The online map launches with featured biographies and interviews from contemporary women and non-binary people.

Those linked to UCL include Honorary Professor Baroness Hale, who replaces St James Park, cricketer Ebony Rainford-Brent, who replaces Oval, and Olympic athlete Christine Ohuruogu who replaces Elm Park.

The list of contemporary people includes artists Kim Lim, Rachel Whiteread, Sutapa Biswas, Jadé Fadojutimi and Chila Kumari Burman, who replace Pimlico, Fairlop, Ealing Broadway, Barkingside and Acton Town respectively.

Dr Lovett 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.”

Historic UCL people include scientist Kathleen Lonsdale, replacing Hatton Cross, whose groundbreaking research in crystallography was conducted at UCL during World War II. She was the first woman to be elected a Fellow of the Royal Society and the first female President of the British Association.

Other notable historic figures are architect and alumna Gertrude Leverkus, who replaces West Ham, Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, replacing Marble Arch and economist Clara Collet, one of the first women graduates from UCL, who replaces Canons Park.

The interactive map uses Memory Mapper software, an open-source web application which was created by Dr Duncan Hay (UCL CASA) and builds upon The Bartlett’s research into mapping cultural heritage.

Dr Hay said: “Memory mapper is designed to allow people to explore the relationship between history and place. We’re so pleased that we’ve been able to use Memory Mapper to enrich the fantastic map that Reni, Rebecca, Emma and the team at Haymarket Books have created, and hope that it becomes a living archive for these remarkable stories.”

The London project is inspired by Rebecca Solnit and Joshua Jelly-Schapiro’s 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 inspired Emma Watson to collaborate with Reni Eddo-Lodge and Solnit on a version for London.

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!”

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.”

The digital map was supported by the Engineering Physical Sciences Research Council, UCL Grand Challenges and the UCL Centre for Critical Heritage Studies. UCL Knowledge Exchange & Innovation funding enabled the use of innovative digital technologies to give historical and narrative context to the print version of the map.

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