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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Rachel rated it liked it Apr 05, Efforts to untangle this visual mess began in the mids, when tthe city transit authority hired the design firm Unimark International to create a clear and consistent sign system. What was chosen in its place? Michael Hertz Associates was hired to handle the signage manual, while the Service Identity Manual was done in-house.

Helvetica and the New York City Subway System: The True (Maybe) Story

Massimo and Lella Vignelli, founders of Vignelli Associates, received the AIGA Medal for their prodigious and consistently excellent designs, across a wide range of disciplines: The MoMA symposium coupled with the Chrystie Street Connection fiasco made it clear to the commissioners that they could not continue to do things the old way. Wordspacing, letterspacing, leading and the number of lines per sign were carefully detailed.

For the lettering, Forbes, who had a thhe practice at the time, hired a young Matthew Carter b. Unimark-style sign made with handcut stencils, at Rockaway Park CanarsieL station early s.

Tetterodewas established in With the hiring of Unimark it seemed that the TA had finally realized the need to rectify the Piranesian situation underground. If you’re a designer, I think you’ll enjoy the geekery inherent in it.


One of the reasons that Vignelli was unhappy with the TA’s handling of Unimark’s signage recommendations is that they were carried out by its cuty sign shop. Given his devotion to Helvetica at the time, his answer has the ring of truth to it—especially since he set the explanatory text of the Graphics Standards Manual in it!

I will never look at signage around a transportation hub the same again.

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

His sign system for the Milan metro involved modular enamel strip signs placed along the station walls at consistent intervals. Return to Book Page. But they still had to be hand cut as stencils. Diamonds were still in existence.

Having ths the Helvetica documentary I was also under the impression it had been used for the new signs from the beginning, but the closely-related Akzidenz Grotesk was actually the Standard instead. It was not until the s that a reasonably consistent signage system was implemented.

Helvetica and the New York City Subway System on Vimeo

In establishing Unimark they sought to wed American marketing to European modernist design. Smaller directional signs—with arrows indicating systek from each station—were also made in mosaic tile in both serif and sans serif roman capitals. Or from specimens of type taken from a book? Worth borrowing from the library for this purpose if you’re a font civilian.

A helvetica and the new york city subway system train was alerted in advance that it would be part of a test. Subways and fonts, what’s not to love?

However, by the end of the s—thanks to an improving economy in New York City and a series of five-year capital programs dedicated citty modernizing the stations—the revised Unimark signs managed to finally permeate most of the subway system. Mar 26, Mike rated it liked it. In Novemberwork on the M1 Red line, the first of the three-line Metropolitana Milanese, was completed.


Helvetica and the New York City Subway System: The True (Maybe) Story by Paul Shaw

In the early s an Italian designer named Massimo Vignelli designed a signage system Helvetica is a sans-serif font based on Standard akzidenz groteskdesigned in by two Swiss font designers. A modular support system subwayy the signs—in which they fit into black metal channels suspended from the ceiling by black struts—was created since the TA insisted that no structural changes could be made to the stations.

Ingalls’ solution meant that there would have to be a change in the color coding of the routes. The number of life-and-death situations where I’ll be called upon to helvetica and the new york city subway system this is very small indeed Jason Radak rated it really liked it Jan 08, Things were even worse than the Times realized—the AA ssystem had been renamed the K.

Scott Clark rated it really liked it Dec 11, The sign system design was carried out by Benno Wissing, of Total Design, who used an altered Standard—ascenders and descenders chopped down—as the typeface.

He had come to the United States to head uelvetica the New York office of Unimark International, an international design consultancy established earlier that year.