London's place names and tube stations are overwhelmingly named after male landed gentry and aristocrats, so a tube map with stations named after women and non-binary people is just the tonic.
The City of Women London map is the idea of Londoners Reni Eddo-Lodge (author of Why I'm No Longer talking to White People About Race) and film star/women's campaigner Emma Watson, who worked alongside Rebecca Solnit, co-creator of the City of Women New York Subway map.
Says Solnit: "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."
The usual names of London's 272 Underground stations are switched out for pioneering female figures across every genre — the arts, sport, politics, activism... the list goes on. Among them are household names like Audrey Hepburn, Adele, Mary Seacole, Madhur Jaffrey, Michaela Coel, Boudica and the Ford sewing machinists, as featured in the film Made in Dagenham. Even HMP Holloway — the erstwhile women's prison — gets a namecheck.
Under-celebrated figures, such as second world war spy Noor Inayat Khan; placard-wielding princess Sophia D Singh; and the magnificently-named footballer Nettie Honeyball also feature — alongside non-binary people such as Travis Alabanza.
Names aren't just randomly scattered; each figure is where they are for a reason. So Princess Diana of Wales assumes the spot at Queensway, just across from her former home at Kensington Palace; M.I.A is in her hometown of Hounslow; while Kate Bush is presumably located at Shepherd's Bush owning to the shared name/the fact Bexleyheath, where she hails from, doesn't have a tube station.
Some of the locations bring a lump to the throat, such as that of Belly Mujinga, a London Transport worker who died from Covid after being allegedly spat and coughed on while on duty at Victoria station.
The map has been created in partnership with TfL, and some of its own inspiring women feature, too, including Hannah Dadds (the first female tube driver, and whose name occupies the Upton Park spot, where she served as a 'railwoman') and Jill Viner, London's first female bus driver.
And before you ask, yes the Northern line extension is included (with Mary Tealby and Charlotte Despard standing in for Battersea Power Station and Nine Elms respectively).
Says Reni Eddo-Lodge: "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."
You can buy a physical copy of the City of Women map to adorn your wall. There's also a semi-interactive version on the City of Women London site, where you can click some of the names and discover more about them.
The map was released on 8 March (International Women's Day), the same day TfL announced that until mid-April 2022, the tunnels in between tube platforms at Victoria station will display portraits of women who work across the city's transport network.