Michael Hertz, designer of iconic NYC subway map, dead at 87

He put New York transportation on the map.

Michael Hertz, the man largely credited with designing the modern New York City subway map, has passed away at 87. He died on February 18 at Nassau University Medical Center in East Meadow, NY, where he lived. His son Eugene, who announced the death, did not state the cause.

Hert’z design firm, Michael Hertz Associates, was hired by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority in the 1970s to redesign the subway map. In 1979, they produced what remains the city’s map today — with a few tweaks and updates.

The 1979 map replaced Italian designer Massimo Vignelli’s 1972 creation which, while a museum-worthy Modernist piece of art, is largely agreed to be more attractive than accurate. The MTA was formed in 1965.

Although there’s been some disagreement over who deserves credit for the modern map’s creation, then MTA spokesman Tom Kelly confirmed to Newsday in 2004 that Hertz, more than anyone else, should get the honor.

“[In] all honesty, it’s Mike Hertz that did all the basic design and implementation of it. In all fairness, the father of this map, as far as we’re concerned, is Mike Hertz,” Kelly told the New York Times.

Before creating the iconic map, Hertz worked as a movie advertising art director for the Walt Disney Company. In addition to NYC’s, he also worked on transit maps for Houston and Washington, according to the Times. He is survived by his wife of 66 years, Carole Ann Hertz, three sons, a daughter and eight grandchildren.

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