The Newberry

Mapping Movement

Delta Airlines System Map, 1987

Referenced by Essay: 

The elaborate airline souvenir maps of the post-war era with detailed topographic information were superseded during the 1970s by simplified destination maps often with insets of hub-and spoke networks.

A typical example is this map prepared for Delta Airlines.  The base map is an outline map of the North America overprinted with route destination, which highlight’s the airline’s hub-and-spoke system, a method of routing air traffic through central airports (hubs) to regional airports (spokes).  Most major airlines have multiple hubs, such as Delta, which operated through five central airports: Atlanta, Cincinnati, Dallas/ Fort Worth, Los Angeles, and Salt Lake City.  Insets display hub-and-spoke maps of connecting airlines.  A brief note describing the hub-and-spoke system on the verso informs the reader that “Delta schedules an average of 2,200 flight daily across the system.”

The hub-and-spoke system emerged shortly after the Airline Deregulation Act of 1978 eliminated restrictions on airline routes and wide-bodied “Jumbo” jets were introduced.

The verso is used to promote Delta, and includes a brief history of the company, a typical airline exposition on the contributions of the company’s employees designed around the airline’s advertising slogan, “We Love To Fly And It Show,” and photographs with descriptions of the nine jet aircraft that comprise its fleet. The cover photograph displays a Delta Captain surrounded by flight attendants, station personnel and other employees that further reinforces the airline’s commitment to passenger service.