Home Subway Maps New Grand Theft Auto cuts down our subways

New Grand Theft Auto cuts down our subways

by Benjamin Kabak


This is not the world’s most efficient subway system.

In a few short weeks, on April 29, one of the year’s most anticipated video games hits the shelves. That game, as many New Yorkers know, is the latest installment in one of the most polarizing and controversial video games of all time: Grand Theft Auto.

While a discussion of a video game may seem out of place on Second Ave. Sagas, this time around, Grand Theft Auto has a New York tie-in. GTA IV takes place in Liberty City, a fictionalized and stylized version of New York City and the surrounding environs. When Rockstar Games revealed this location last year, New York politicians were expectedly up in arms about it. No politician likes the glorified violence these GTA games bring to video consoles across the country.

For the subway buffs among us, seeing one of the most graphically-advanced and obsessively-detailed video games set in New York was something of a pop culture dream come true. Sure, GTA: San Andreas featured the Los Angeles subway, but who rides that? With Liberty City, GTA has a chance to show us what the video game’s graphics rendering capabilities really are. Could it handle a 722-mile, 468-station subway system with 22 lines and various underground, at-grade and aboveground subway tracks?

gta4map3.jpgWell, based on leaked maps obtained by the video game blog Kotaku from a Webshots user, the answer seems to be a disappointing no. Liberty City’s Transport Authority’s subway system pales in comparison to one run by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority we currently enjoy. The maps — one is above and one is at right (click it to enlarge it) — show a small subway system with few lines and few stops that bear little relation to New York’s iconic subway map.

When the game hits, I bet Liberty City’s subways will look awfully similar to New York City’s subways but for another era. If the idea is that Liberty City is a crime-filled town where everyone’s jockeying for now power, they’re not going to be doing that while riding antiseptic R160s around town. Instead, we’ll be catapulted back to the late 1970s and early 1980s when the dirty, dingy subway were crime-filled and covered in graffiti.

With these maps a disappointing sneak peak at the game, it’s been a rough week for the New York City subways in our popular culture. With the announcement that James Gandolfini will be in the remake of The Taking of Pelham 123, the subways are seemingly getting a short shrift lately. The remake of Pelham sounds like it’s taking itself too seriously while the subway maps from GTA4 seem to suggest that Rockstar isn’t taking our subways seriously enough. Alas, what’s a subway fan to do?

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Matt March 28, 2008 - 12:25 pm

GTA III was actually based on a fictional New York, but it was more abstract than GTA IV. III had Portland (= Brooklyn), Staunton Island (= Manhattan) and Shoreside Vale (= Staten Island, or New Jersey). There was a subway in GTA III, but it only had four stations (one in Portland, two in Staunton, and one in Shoreside) and they all looked the same. Portland had an elevated line which ran around the perimeter of the borough, but there was no intermodal connection with the subway.

GTA: San Andreas was based on Los Angeles (“Los Santos”), San Francisco (“San Fierro”) and Las Vegas (“Las Venturas”). It featured a single inter-city railroad loop with one or two stations in each city. One of the stations in downtown Los Santos was underground so it may have evoked the feeling of the subway. All the others resembled suburban Amtrak or commuter rail stations.

Ultimately, the GTA games are mostly about walking, driving and flying. It just isn’t as fun (in the game) to be sitting on a train. Accurately representing the subway system wouldn’t have added much to the fun of the game, except maybe for serious transit nerds like us.

R2 March 28, 2008 - 3:11 pm

If this subway system actually existed, it would fall far short of New York’s needs.

On the plus side, there IS a 2nd Ave subway in this fictional depiction. Let’s hope it doesn’t STAY fictional

Roosevelt Island 360 (Eric) March 28, 2008 - 9:32 pm

It appears that the subway system in Liberty City is pre-1989 as it looks like the subway passes under Colony Island (nee Roosevelt Island) but has no stops on the Island. So unsurprisingly my island gets no respect in the world of GTA IV.


The folks over at Subchat are having fun with this map as well.


The Secret Conductor March 29, 2008 - 3:19 am

This looks like some cracked up version of the london loop mixed up with nyc subways. It does have the second (or first, can’t tell) ave subway. As for what the rest represents, I haven’t a clue.

E.T. Universe December 22, 2008 - 2:57 pm

A certain waste of time. It won’t stick.

Anthony January 1, 2009 - 8:48 pm

The reason the subway is smaller in the game is because liberty city is much smaller than the real new york. If you notice the streets are also on this map and the length from central park from north to south is 7 blocks :p

Scott Mercer May 6, 2009 - 7:46 pm

Who rides the Los Angeles subway?

140,000 riders a day, guys. Right now, it’s fifth highest mass transit rail ridership in the USA, behind New York, Chicago, Washington and San Fran/Bay Area.

And if we keep building lines, we should be moving up to #3. If you include the other three lines (“light rail”) then you get well over 300,000 riders per day. By 2015, we should have 92 miles of track and 400,000 daily boardings on rail. That will put us at #4, or possibly #3.

Add in the commuter rail and you get 400 more miles of track and about 40,000 additional riders in Southern California in a five county area.

new grand theft auto 5 October 28, 2011 - 6:29 am

It?s really a cool and helpful piece of info. I am glad that you simply shared this helpful info with us. Please stay us informed like this. Thanks for sharing.

Someone October 17, 2012 - 10:21 pm

I have GTA and it rocks. Not considering its crappy subway system, which is minor.


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