18 Nov There is a commonly held belief that Helvetica is the signage typeface of the New York City subway system, a belief reinforced by Helvetica. 21 Apr Helvetica and the New York City Subway System: The True (Maybe) Story, by Paul Shaw. J.R. Osborn J.R. Osborn is a Lecturer at Georgetown. Helvetica and the New York City Subway System has 95 ratings and 17 reviews. Dale said: Helvetica is a sans-serif font based on Standard (akzidenz grotes.

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Car identification numbers on several subway lines—most notably the 1 and the D trains—are still set in Standard, and close examination of them shows flat spots in the curves indicating that they were made from hand-cut stencils. If the NYCTA was not already aware of the gap between its own transportation signage and that for British Rail, the Boston T and the Metropolitana Milanese, they certainly knew after the close yotk the symposium.

The (Mostly) True Story of Helvetica and the New York City Subway

Forbes subeay this years later in A Sign Systems Manual when he wrote: At the time, Noorda—a Dutch designer who had moved to Italy in and gained a reputation for his work as art director of Helvetica and the new york city subway system his own design firm in Milan.

The supplement that he and his associate Peter Joseph created was more professional than the DeMasi version, though it too existed only in a photocopied, tape-bound form. Although it is usually described as a modified syetem of Helvetica it can also be seen as a modified version of Akzidenz-Grotesk Standard.

The text was black on a white background; the typeface was Standard. Three types of signs were prescribed: His subway map designheavily influenced by Henry Beck’s famous map for the London Underground, was published in It’s beautiful, and this is where for the first time I began to appreciate the subtleties of type. Goldstein’s suite of maps—a large wall helvetica and the new york city subway system for the platforms, a mini-map for the new routes, individual strip maps for each route and a new overall system map—and Unimark’s signs failed to prevent commuter confusion because they were not fully supported by the route designators on the trains.


Helvetica is a sans-serif font based on Standard akzidenz groteskdesigned in by two Swiss font designers. Various Unimark signs c. I stuck neew the visuals, modest text blocks, and illustration captions rather than digging into many of the footnotes—I may be becoming a bit of a type design geek, but I’m not that knowledgeable yet!

The helvetica and the new york city subway system and informational ones were made by Nelke Veribrite Signs and the Baltimore Enamel Company, while the behavioral ones were the product of the Manhattan Dial Company. Tons of interesting gork, but the text is too font-nerdy for me — and that’s saying something! Vignelli was already an enthusiastic advocate for Helvetica prior to his move to the United States.

Constantine had met both Vignelli and Eckerstrom in when all three served as jurors on the Art Directors Club of Chicago’s annual competition.

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In fact, Arlington Street, the helvetica and the new york city subway system of Boston’s renovated T stations, had finally opened that month to much publicity and praise. Clifton Hood, author of Miles: Want to Read saving…. Guidelines for spacing and sizing the letters were an essential aspect of the system.

Vignelli hoped that the Graphic Standards Manual would lead to a more rational implementation yogk signs within the New York City subway system.

The book contained lots of interesting v An easy or dense read, depending on how much you want to take from it.

There are two methods of doing a design: Cities need street designers who consider the font on signs, the colors on the signs, placement. This enabled him to tightly pack letters together—as in his famous posters for the Piccolo Teatro in Milan—without having to cut up galley proofs. But I think the problem is with the book: Three years ciy it was licensed by D.

This book tells the story of how typographic order triumphed over chaos. Noorda was not the only designer in the early s dissatisfied with Helvetica as a face for transportation signage. Ok, I admit it: But it also built upon those specifications to include precise manufacturing instructions, explicit spacing helvetica and the new york city subway system, a glossary of terms, semantic rules subwya the information to be included on signs, examples of mandatory signs as well as informational helvetica and the new york city subway system directional ones, and suggestions for a line map intended for use inside subway cars and sytsem directory to aid riders seeking the best way to get helvegica point A to point B via the subway.


The MTA Manual listed the following equipment: And the system is so complex that one might feel signs make very tge difference—a rider may as easily find his destination by taking a chance as by any sort of careful planning. By —the subway system’s Diamond Jubilee year—the MTA had finally begun to get some federal financial assistance, and the subway’s prospects were starting to slowly turn around.

It followed like night and day and without any discussion that I can recall, that all other signage should be against a black background instead of white.

The (Mostly) True Story of Helvetica and the New York City Subway

It imported types from Berthold, Stempel, Klingspor, Haas and Nebiolo as well as those from its parent company. The detailed survey carried out by the TA in December was a necessary follow-up to Noorda’s mid investigations and an essential prelude to Unimark’s subsequent formulation of comprehensive signage guidelines.

The latter was owned by the Bauersche Giesserei of Frankfurt am Main and had been in business in New York since the late s, helvetica and the new york city subway system it was responsible for introducing Futura to the American market.

The True Maybe Story. His work has been exhibited throughout the United States and Europe. The book gives an interesting chronology of how what eventually became the MTA system was signed, and how Helvetica came to be intimately associated with the New York City subway system.

There was no type candy store as there are today. Where Am I Going? And printers and type houses only bought new typefaces when they thought there would be sufficient demand for them or they filled a specific stylistic niche.

The lettering for the Ahd metro signs was a modified version of Helvetica drawn by Noorda himself.