Writers and Writing

The font that took over the world

Helvetica has transformed everything from corporations to N.Y.'s subways. But what does it say about us?

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    "Helvetica and the New York City Subway System," MIT Press, 2011

    Entrance kiosk, City Hall

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    "Helvetica and the New York City Subway System," MIT Press, 2011

    Porcelain enamel directional sign.

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    From William Lansing Plumb "Telling People Where to Go: Subway Graphics." Print XIX:V (September/October 1965), p 13.

    Handpainted sign at unidentified IRT subway station

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    Top: Photograph by "Helvetica and the New York City Subway System," MIT Press, 2011 Bottom: Photograph by Jack Stewart. From Jack Stewart, "Graffiti Kings: New York City Mass Transit Art of the 1970s." (New York: Melcher Media, Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 2009), p. 29

    Porcelain enamel route sign

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    From Metropolitan Transportation Authority. "1978 Annual Report," p. 10

    Installing a decal on a Unimark-style sign

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    "Helvetica and the New York City Subway System," MIT Press, 2011

    Porcelain enamel station sign

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    "Helvetica and the New York City Subway System," MIT Press, 2011

    Porcelain enamel girder signs