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realizm

A Look Inside MTA New York City Transit’s Sign Shop

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nyct_7284.jpg?itok=gEGgm1DD

 

Ever wonder where all of those printed subway station signs come from? There’s actually a little shop in Brooklyn manned by a small group of dedicated MTA New York City Transit workers who fabricate informational signs for the largest mass transit system in North America.

 

“When our customers enter the system, they expect to see clear and concise signage directing them to where they need to go and it is our mission to provide a product that they can depend on,” said Director of Station Signage John Montemarano. The workers at the Bergen Sign Shop practice a culture of creation, taking pride in their work and satisfied in the knowledge that 5.8 million customers a day depend on what they do.

 

Referring to an upcoming tour by the members of the New York Transit Museum, Bergen Sign Shop Superintendent Keith Parker believes visitors will be in for a shock. "They're going to be very surprised, because a lot of people don't know exactly what we do in the shop or how we change the signs. A lot of people don't even know that we have a sign shop in New York City Transit,” said Parker

 

While many would think that once a sign is up, that’s it. That does not take into account the sheer size of the system and the need to change signs on a pretty regular basis. “Up to this point this year, we have created more than 60,000 new station signs,” Montemarano added. “Most of those new signs keep customers up to date on service changes.”

 

Link: http://www.mta.info/news-new-york-city-transit-subway-sign-shop/2014/10/17/look-inside-mta-new-york-city-transit%E2%80%99s-sign

 

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The article also sheds some light on future long term revenue service changes on Broadway:

 

"A major change coming up on December 7, involves the q.png train, which will begin making local stops overnight in Manhattan. This service change, which affects only five Manhattan stations, nonetheless requires the creation of 200 new signs to be installed at 31 stations along the line."

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Isn't this the same sign shop that botched the introduction of the Vignelli-standard signs when they first came out? 

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I went to this place in Brooklyn to buy a sign and it was really expensive, so I just bought one that said (E) to World Trade Center.

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Isn't this the same sign shop that botched the introduction of the Vignelli-standard signs when they first came out? 

 

Yep! Vignelli famously referred to them as the "sign painters" in a dig at their lack of precision. 

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Isn't this the same sign shop that botched the introduction of the Vignelli-standard signs when they first came out? 

Yep! Vignelli famously referred to them as the "sign painters" in a dig at their lack of precision. 

Despite the advice given on how to create signs based on the Unimark design, the TA remained stuck in their old ways of creating signs by hand, rather than through the silk-screen method that was preferred. There were a few other errors committed by the Bergen Shop, like the somewhat infamous one where they mistook the black band at the top of the signs as being part of the signs' design instead of just the bracket to hold them in place on the ceiling.

 

Of course, this was just one of many problems that the Unimark system faced, like slow implementation early on, a lack of funds and a rapidly changing subway system, both in terms of actual service and the subway's continuing dilapidation.

 

White signs black letters are more legible in my opinion.

I like Standard better than Helvetica as well.

The sign colors were inverted early on for two reasons, first and foremost, legibility. After a quiet test run, it was determined that the white text on black signs were more legible than the previous design, especially with the small text for the service signs under the bright florescent lights. The secondary reason for the switch was of course, due to graffiti. Those white signs were notorious for being a magnet for graffiti "artists".

 

This is a nice look into what goes on behind the scenes so to speak. Though I do wish the Bergen Shop would move away from the "text-speak" service notes they've gotten into the habit of printing over the past couple of years. It makes some sense when they are limited by length because of platform layout, but in other cases, it just comes off as lazy, especially when there's all this space left on the signs.

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Wow makes sense, maybe it's just me. Anyway, the signage is very very uniform and mostly easy to understand which I appreciate.

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