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Remnants of the 1980s Subway: Stickers


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Most of the subway system today has been updated in the past year or two years--station signs are always replaced, strip maps get new stickers, and the MTA keeps things current. In the cars themselves, SMSs have replaced floors and painted seats, while various stickers have been replaced in past years for fleet uniformity. Almost every car in the fleet has post-1987 graphics on the interior, which tend to be white on black stickers in the Helvetica font. Not to mention, everything is in English.


In the 1970s and 1980s, however, signage looked a lot different. The common font was Akzidenz-Grotesk, the signs were black on white, and Spanish was used for a lot of the text around the cars. Almost all examples of this design language have been scrubbed from the system either in routine updates or GOHs (the oldest R32s and R42s actually have relatively modern interior signs thanks to their overhauls). But a few cars keep the original 1970s-1980s graphics, and these are the unmodified R62/As and R68s (68As came too late).


I try to catch a photo (on my phone or camera) of the cars I see that have kept their original stickers, as they're a nice throwback to a time when the whole system looked like this. 


Starting with R62As, these English-Spanish Azkidenz-Grotesk "Do not use this door" stickers are still around on a few cars, namely the 42nd Street shuttle fleet. 




The rarest of all are these "Prohibited" stickers, which are only on a handful of R62As at best. At one point in the 1980s, this was the sticker on the storm door of each car, whether R30 or R62. The font is pretty unique.






While talking R62As, a bunch of cars have retained their original number stickers, which are black on a clear background in the Azkidenz-Grotesk font. Here's 1907:




Closer up, here's 1787. This car also has its original Emergency Brake sticker in English and Spanish.




A few cars also have these original New York City Transit Authority stickers for priority seating, which have stuck 

around on buses but not subways. These are in Azkidenz-Grotesk.




A few R68s also came with these stickers, but theirs are on a white background. I've only seen them in Helvetica, but the M logo is a nice throwback.





R68s and R62/As also came standard with these "Prohibited" stickers, which I've only seen remaining on R68s. They are in Azkidenz-Grotesk on white, while their bus counterparts are Helvetica.






R68s have also kept many of their original number stickers, which are either in Azkidenz-Grotesk or Helvetica in black on white. Next to these numbers are storm door stickers, which are also in either font.


A-G numbers and Helvetica sticker: 




Helvetica numbers and an A-G sticker:




Helvetica closeup:




Akzidenz-Grotesk closeup:




One last piece of 1980s-styling which is more physical than graphic is flooring. A handful of R62As have kept their original beige flooring, like 1958:




And finally, one sign that's older than a bunch of these put together:




The details are easy to miss, but there's a lot of history hidden around the cars and the system.

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The rarest of all are these "Prohibited" stickers, which are only on a handful of R62As at best. At one point in the 1980s, this was the sticker on the storm door of each car, whether R30 or R62. The font is pretty unique.



For those wondering, the font is Helvetica Medium Condensed with some weird spacing.


Nice catches with the throwback signs.

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And for some context, here are some photos showing just how things looked in the 1980s with those same stickers (all credit to nycsubway.org):


The front of an R62 and an R62A, with original "Prohibited" sticker, door sticker, numbers, e-brake, and "Please no" sticker. Original floors, too. Note that some stickers are white and some are clear, and some are in Helvetica while some are in Akzidenz. I'm not sure any R62/As still have those Please No stickers on them.






Here's an overhauled R10 with the same "Prohibited" sticker on the storm door, as would have been seen in most 1980s cars:




As you can see, a few pieces of the 80s certainly remain.

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OTOH I wonder why they put such bland interior colors on the R10 towards the end of its service life...

It's the standard TA Tan post-GOH interior paint scheme.


All of the Redbirds plus the R32 R38 R40 R42 got it, and any running examples of these cars still have it.


I actually see the NTT interior scheme as a variation on it, with white and periwinkle replacing tan and blue.

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Here's another remnant of the 1980s subway.






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The second sticker of Emergency Instructions...


Emergency Evacuation Procedure



Those are hard to find in trains these days. There was an R44 that kept one for a while, and there's one of those stuck on a wall near 242nd Street tower, but it's mostly the new ones and the white ones that came after that (neither of which have Spanish).


I made a thread like this a few years ago here photos from that thread.






Great finds, I must have missed that thread. I love finding those little vinyl pieces. There's one at West 4th and there's one at 23rd on the IRT, but those are the only one I've noticed. And of course, they're all in Akzidenz-Grotesk, which is great to see. Sadly the view of that 50th Street entrance is gone now, thanks to the bank installed a new gate. 

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