Mr. Vignelli had modeled it on the hugely popular 1933 diagrammatic map of the London Underground designed by Harry Beck, a freelance draughtsman who compiled it in his spare time. Beck’s “diagram,” as he called it, applied similar organizational principles, arguably with even greater rigor. Unlike him, Mr. Vignelli had included some geographical references, by identifying Central Park and areas like Manhattan and the Bronx. He has since regretted doing so, arguing that the map should have been wholly abstract, devoid of such distractions. But Beck’s design was gentler in style, particularly in its choice of typography, while Mr. Vignelli used the searingly modern font Helvetica. // The response to each map also reflected the architectural character of its city. London is such a huge, sprawling historical muddle that its citizens (like me) are generally relieved to see it simplified in Beck’s “diagram” and cheerfully forgive him for misrepresenting the wonky River Thames as being straight and Angel station as being level with Old Street, when it is further north. Whereas New Yorkers pride themselves on knowing their way around the orderly geometric grid of their streets, which explains why many of them felt they had nothing to gain from a shrunken Central Park and oddly located stations. // Here, the two maps illustrate the complexity of design’s relationship to the truth. In principle, we cannot be expected to trust anything that is not truthful, yet many of the greatest design feats have set out to deceive us, albeit for good reason. Just as the symbols and characters on your computer screen were designed to disguise the unfathomable mathematical coding of its programs, designers have devised maps to help us to make sense of befuddling terrain or transport networks. Londoners are willing to suspend disbelief when they see Beck’s “diagram,” because it is in their interest to accept its inaccuracies as expedient design ploys, while the New Yorkers who attacked Mr. Vignelli’s map felt deeply skeptical about it. Why would anyone want to redesign such an easily navigable city?