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Union Tpke

Subway signage from 1990 and 1993

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@MHV9218@Lance I found a great website with old subway footage and found some interesting subway signs.

 

I have never seen this sign format with a small bullet and the line name underneath before. Do you know anything about it? This is from 1990.

https://www.historicfilms.com/search/?q="subway"#p1t48155i2435o2990

50648518766_6501a9fe2d_c.jpgScreen Shot 2020-11-26 at 9.34.20 AM by Union Turnpike, on Flickr

50648610247_29e49101f9_c.jpgScreen Shot 2020-11-26 at 9.34.31 AM by Union Turnpike, on Flickr

50648518531_6d7bd80f5f_c.jpgScreen Shot 2020-11-26 at 9.34.42 AM by Union Turnpike, on Flickr

50647792583_a10560920a_c.jpgScreen Shot 2020-11-26 at 9.40.55 AM by Union Turnpike, on Flickr

From the 1990s:

50647712148_14631660b9_c.jpgScreen Shot 2020-11-26 at 9.17.25 AM by Union Turnpike, on Flickr

 

From 1993 (the (R) bullet is covered over)

50648479887_3697d36b57_z.jpgSignage at Kew Gardens from July 16, 1993 stock footage by Union Turnpike, on Flickr

50648517277_7237520723_c.jpgJuly 16, 1993 stock footage by Union Turnpike, on Flickr

 

Edited by Union Tpke
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This is great material. Good idea going to the film archives – those sites have lots of quality stuff. I had no idea how long those original Vignelli signs at 42nd Street were up. This is a clear shot (I did not take) of what they looked like originally. You can see they're the original Vignelli style (no white stripe, black arrow on white) and done exactly to his spec in the manual. They're also enamel, which is notable, though the crooked lettering of the bullets suggests individual stickers for at least the F bullet. You can see in the later pic that the D is covered by a JFK Express bullet and probably reordered.

96120356_701425937272514_488343472816363

Those 2/5 signs are interesting. They're clearly trying to stick to the 1x1 module format while trying out new stuff. If the font is Akzidenz, that dates them to 1984 or so, since the later 2/5 signs were done with handcut Helvetica faked into Standard from the sign shop. They used enamel for these, which was unusual for an overhead sign. The stacked style makes sense for the late 80s, when they got desperate in fitting small bullets into place. I guess they couldn't fit all the text on the description section, so they moved a little bit of it over. A rare in-between sign before they shrank the font of the text for the 1990s.

Most of those station entrance signs are probably still up, just covered up. Not Van Wyck, as I know that got new double-sided enamel in the 1990s, but generally stations all over have kept their 1980s signs with new sheet metal tacked over. That's what's currently visible at 23rd St. (6) and 157th St. (1) while sign replacement is going on. 

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Thank you so much for you analysis. You really need to write something up about the history of subway signs.

Here are a few more interesting ones I found:

These are from 1990:

50648181263_a75aff968f_b.jpg1990- 103rd Street by Union Turnpike, on Flickr

50649088372_57c83b822e_c.jpgNW corner of 61/CPW by Union Turnpike, on Flickr

50649087992_3761649d9a_c.jpgNW corner of 61/CPW by Union Turnpike, on Flickr

You can see the C pasted over the diamond C, the spot where the K used to be, the 1/9 bullet

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8 hours ago, Union Tpke said:

Thank you so much for you analysis. You really need to write something up about the history of subway signs.

You can see the C pasted over the diamond C, the spot where the K used to be, the 1/9 bullet

Hey, Paul Shaw wrote the quite literal book on that – I just follow up with my observations! 

These are more great finds. There was a large batch of signs produced around 1985 for station entrances, specifically along the 8th Ave with the <C> and (K) services. They were all porcelain enamel and Akzidenz-Grotesk, and a few are still in place, though covered by newer signs. They were all very quickly out of date, as you can see from the photos, since the (K) was out of service within three years, and most of the <C> became the (C) again. Interestingly, I'm not actually aware of any enamel entrance signs produced with the blue (AA) service between 1979-1985. There may have been some sheet metal signs, but I've only really seen photos with stickers. After the ~1985 batch, it was again a few years before new enamel signs were cast. By then the font was Helvetica. 

I poked through your Flickr after seeing these. The photo below answers a question of mine – exactly how long were the Vignelli overhead signs up for? I knew it was into the 1990s, but this proves it was as late as 1994. This is actually a 10-foot Vignelli sign made of black-on-white modular segments entirely covered by stickers. The original sign included the pink AA and :CC:. Chambers through 14th received these Vignelli signs around spring 1969 – impressive to see how long they were up for. 

50649118038_ec21ea6ea4_b.jpg

Edited by MHV9218
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You go into ridiculously specific details about when stations got which signs, which stations still have the old signs, but are stickered or covered over, the specific materials, and more. There is plenty for you to write up if you choose to.

It is really hard to look through all these clips since they are almost all exclusively from crimes, derailments, 12-9s, aftermaths of shootings/murders, etc.—events that would require stock footage. I even saw footage of the Intervale Avenue fire in 1989, and of the aftermath of derailments at Columbus Circle, Hunts Point Avenue, and more. 

Here are a few more interesting ones I found.

 

1989

50649668661_4e62c67874_b.jpg1989 by Union Turnpike, on Flickr

1991

I have seen a few other images of comically small lettering on subway route bullets. Note the tilted B.

50649810912_82f26a1d53_b.jpg1991 by Union Turnpike, on Flickr

1987

Note the crossover to other trains sign on the now-closed platform at Hoyt-Schermerhorn for connections to/from the JFK Express.

50649058853_6b131ed9e2_b.jpg1987 Hoyt by Union Turnpike, on Flickr

50649808791_eb114aab47_b.jpg1987 Hoyt by Union Turnpike, on Flickr

You can tell that this sign was put on top of another one.

50649895327_a5db66ab26_b.jpg1987 Hoyt by Union Turnpike, on Flickr

50649058988_0fa2edcaf5_b.jpg1987 Hoyt by Union Turnpike, on Flickr

This sign at Spring Street from 1994 is of particular interest

I love how they creatively use a down arrow to cover the (K).

50649117978_a90ce26ae5_b.jpgSpring St 1994 by Union Turnpike, on Flickr

50649117768_e9e400e187_b.jpgSpring St 1994 by Union Turnpike, on Flickr

Edited by Union Tpke

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Concerning signage on CPW, here is a photo from Jeremiah Cox of the subwaynut.com from 2004. I would link to his site, but he is in the process of getting stuff back up after it was hacked.

96StltBgtltCgtK_zps122048ca

The 2/5 sign I showed earlier reminds me of some of the signs at the deep tunnel stations (Clark Street, Fulton (Broadway/Nassau)

16367836167_25c6feb1bf_b.jpgUntitled by Union Turnpike, on Flickr

@MHV9218In regard to the AA signage, here is an image of a pasted on sticker sign. This sign is interesting as a white on black sticker was put on to fix the E routing, but the old E bullet is still on the sign.

16552657852_d90a7a3f63_b.jpgUntitled by Union Turnpike, on Flickr

Here are two images with the diamond CC and the K, remarkably.

31433334852_a54cf9faff_o.pngScreen Shot 2016-12-06 at 7.41.37 PM by Union Turnpike, on Flickr

26479683475_94ecae7f8c_o.pngNew-York-Subway-1986-Railroad-Pacific-Video-Screenshot-Port-Authority-Times-Square-NYC-Signs by Union Turnpike, on Flickr

I took this screenshot from a Youtube video, so I apologize for the low quality, but you can see that this is a mix of signs. There is the original Vignelli sign underneath. Then you have stickers pasted on it. You can also see the bullet outline kind of bullet on the sign.

28785071774_a469e81b80_o.jpgKTrainSign_zpsdf5d6e38-2 by Union Turnpike, on Flickr

 

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Damn, these are nice finds. Like MHV, I saw some of these pop up on your Flickr feed and had to investigate myself.

Regarding the Queens Blvd signs at Briarwood and Union Tpke, I'm curious why it looks like the latter originally had three services and the former four when the number of services running to those stations was inverted at the time. Van Wyck Blvd had the E and F through 1988, which then became the R and F with the G added in 1990 as a late night service after the R was cut back to the 4th Avenue shuttle that autumn. I guess they could've covered over one of the lines with a blank at some point and then sometime after the Hillside Ave services were consolidated to only the F in Oct. 1992, the sign was cleaned up with a left-justified F. I do wonder if the G was ever on that sign though. The sign at Kew Gardens is even stranger as there was no reason to replace the original E and F that was already there as neither line was slated to discontinue serving that station.

That bullet replacement at Broadway-Lafayette looks like it was a service sticker mistakenly used for an entrance sign. Note how the inner shading is slightly brighter than the surrounding bullet. For Hoyt-Schermerhorn, it looks like those service signs replaced ones similar to those found at Jay St in this photo.

img_115503.jpg

Jay St-Borough Hall (IND 6th Avenue / 8th Avenue)

Collection of NYCSubway.org

On a side-note, I wasn't aware those side platforms at Hoyt-Schermerhorn were in service at that point. Nothing ran on the outer tracks at that time to justify opening the doors to the outer platforms.

@MHV9218 I believe there's a reason why there aren't many enamel CC signs floating around or captured on video, etc. The plan to eliminate the double-lettered routes was thought of way before 1985. The first batch of signs for the 16s - 38s after the trunk color redesign came out in 1981. This is the version that had the Broadway lines with white text on the signature sunflower yellow color. I wouldn't be surprised if the plan dated back to the Diamond Jubilee map design change, but wasn't implemented then due to budget concerns at the time. Too many trains were running with signs dating back to at least the Chrystie St connection, if not before. While the colors on some of those signs would be wrong when the trunk color design was put info effect, the route letters would still be the same if the double-lettered routes remained in operation.

In regards to some of these signs' longevity, the ones at out of the way stations tend to stick around for a while. There were a couple of old service signs on the Pelham line that lasted until the 2010s renovations. Sometimes, they stick around well after station renos, like this one at 59 St-Columbus Circle:

40763702925_8dfd84df94_k.jpg

59 St-Columbus Circle (IND 8th Avenue) - 04/22/2018

Flickr: Coney Island Av

On another side-note, the reason behind some of the signs retaining their '67 colors well into the '80s was that it was close enough to the '79 design. There were plenty of gold N's scattered around with the teal E's. And if you looked close enough, one could find slightly different shades of A's and D's, but those were less noticeable since the '67 and '79 versions were almost the same.

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2 hours ago, Lance said:

Damn, these are nice finds. Like MHV, I saw some of these pop up on your Flickr feed and had to investigate myself.

Regarding the Queens Blvd signs at Briarwood and Union Tpke, I'm curious why it looks like the latter originally had three services and the former four when the number of services running to those stations was inverted at the time. Van Wyck Blvd had the E and F through 1988, which then became the R and F with the G added in 1990 as a late night service after the R was cut back to the 4th Avenue shuttle that autumn. I guess they could've covered over one of the lines with a blank at some point and then sometime after the Hillside Ave services were consolidated to only the F in Oct. 1992, the sign was cleaned up with a left-justified F. I do wonder if the G was ever on that sign though. The sign at Kew Gardens is even stranger as there was no reason to replace the original E and F that was already there as neither line was slated to discontinue serving that station.

I think this might have to do with the fact that there was a plan to send the G and N to Jamaica Center. After that fell though, they started pasting over the signs.

The side platform at Hoyt-Schermerhorn was used to segregate the additional fares from the Aqueduct Specials and JFK Express. This was also done at the 42nd Street L.L.

Edited by Union Tpke

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18 minutes ago, Union Tpke said:

I think this might have to do with the fact that there was a plan to send the G and N to Jamaica Center. After that fell though, they started pasting over the signs.

Perhaps. It would make sense with the text being in Standard instead of Helvetica like it was by the end of the 1980s. Though unless the plan to send the G and N (later the R) to Jamaica Center fell through at the last minute, I'd imagine having erroneous station signs would be more confusing than not. Par for the course, but still pretty weird though.

19 minutes ago, Union Tpke said:

The side platform at Hoyt-Schermerhorn was used to segregate the additional fares from the Aqueduct Specials and JFK Express. This was also done at the 42nd Street L.L.

Right, I forgot the racing specials stopped there. However, the JFK Express never stopped at Hoyt-Schermerhorn, so that means those signs on the outer platforms lasted at least six years following the elimination of the Aqueduct specials. Wouldn't surprise me though as there wouldn't really be a need to waste resources removing signs that people won't access in the first place.

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On 11/27/2020 at 12:48 PM, Lance said:

 

@MHV9218 I believe there's a reason why there aren't many enamel CC signs floating around or captured on video, etc. The plan to eliminate the double-lettered routes was thought of way before 1985. The first batch of signs for the 16s - 38s after the trunk color redesign came out in 1981. This is the version that had the Broadway lines with white text on the signature sunflower yellow color. I wouldn't be surprised if the plan dated back to the Diamond Jubilee map design change, but wasn't implemented then due to budget concerns at the time. Too many trains were running with signs dating back to at least the Chrystie St connection, if not before. While the colors on some of those signs would be wrong when the trunk color design was put info effect, the route letters would still be the same if the double-lettered routes remained in operation.

In regards to some of these signs' longevity, the ones at out of the way stations tend to stick around for a while. There were a couple of old service signs on the Pelham line that lasted until the 2010s renovations. Sometimes, they stick around well after station renos, like this one at 59 St-Columbus Circle:

59 St-Columbus Circle (IND 8th Avenue) - 04/22/2018

Flickr: Coney Island Av

On another side-note, the reason behind some of the signs retaining their '67 colors well into the '80s was that it was close enough to the '79 design. There were plenty of gold N's scattered around with the teal E's. And if you looked close enough, one could find slightly different shades of A's and D's, but those were less noticeable since the '67 and '79 versions were almost the same.

That's a good point. I always forget how early those signs were printed without any double letters. As we know, even the R46s that ended up on the <CC> received only sticker signs rather than new rolls. It would make sense that they didn't too much with permanent signage during those years of flux, particularly given the fact the system was a mess anyway. I went to my list to check for dates on those rolls, and while I didn't find a date for the white N-Q-R rolls, I do know the black N-Q-R rolls are dated 1984. And there are pictures of R38s wearing new rolls as early as winter 1983, so the white ones would probably date to 1982 or so. And you're right, not a trace of a double-lettered route on either of those rolls – they were definitely planning ahead.

I'm still mad I missed that 59th Street sign when it was briefly revealed. For what it's worth, a ton of those style signs (enamel attached to a steel mounting bar) are still in place, just covered by a couple years of new signs. That style was used beginning in the 1980s and into the 1990s, first with the 11" bullets and later with the new-style smaller bullets. Along QBL those signs are still in place with Standard text, just covered by a few metal signs. Along 7th and 8th Ave at some stations it's the same story with the newer later 1980s/1990s version of those signs, like that picture at 59th shows while they were doing replacements. And then there's the later-1990s style of enamel overhead signs that you see at a lot of lines still in place (for instance, 7th Ave on the (F) or 207th St. on the (A)).

I think the (A) kept its 1967 color until even later, actually. I read somewhere that the 1967 PMS300 bullet was carried over after 1979 color switch and used for the AA/CC/E, and later in the 80s they modified it to PMS 286 (the slightly lighter blue used today). Who knows why or when.

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I have a Pic of an Old  (G) sign at Metropolitan before it was covered up when it was extended to Church ave, I took a photo of it in late 2008. sign was from atleast 1985 on the southbound platform

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Not a clue unfortunately. It looks to be full Helvetica, but that doesn't narrow it down much I'm afraid.

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Nice shot from ~1983 of a mix of 60s Vignelli and 70s hybrid-Vignelli signs at Canal Street from the Museum of the City of NY.

Here's what we're looking at, as best I can tell. Back wall: original porcelain enamel signs from ~1968 for the :N: and :QB:. Black paste-on stickers have been added for the <QB> in 1969. Below are original porcelain signs for the :M: and (QJ). Those have been updated with stickers to show the (brownM) and (J).

Hanging from the ceiling: 1970s 'hybrid' Vignelli signs made of sheet metal. On these the arrow sections and text sections are white-on-black, and the bullets modules are white. This is the style the TA used for most of its signs from something like 1973-1978. Here all of the bullets have been covered over except for the :N:, which is still the same color scheme post-179. These were made by the sign shop and they're a little sloppier than the 1960s signs, which were either produced by Unimark contractors or done professionally via photographic enlargement under Unimark supervision. On the side I can't really make out what those signs are – looks like (RR) signs that have been ruined by acid/graffiti or covered over.

MNY227880.jpg

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* added for the <QB> in 1979 that should say, and *post-1979, not 179 later.

Wondering now, separately, if the TA may have actually installed signs with the <C> while the <CC> was still running, and simply used paste-on stickers to cover that for the meantime. We know the main enamel white-on-black signs turned up beginning around 1983, so it's possible they installed those before the services had changed.

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That’s a possibility. I remember seeing <CC> signs on Concourse and CPW well into 1985, maybe even early ‘86. But after that, it was the <C> and the signs around the <C> looked unchanged. 

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13 hours ago, T to Dyre Avenue said:

That’s a possibility. I remember seeing <CC> signs on Concourse and CPW well into 1985, maybe even early ‘86. But after that, it was the <C> and the signs around the <C> looked unchanged. 

Yeah, I'm starting to guess that was it. Especially since the <CC> portion always seems be a sticker. Like this one Union Tpke posted:

31433334852_a54cf9faff_o.png

Decent odds that underneath it's a <C> and they just took the sticker off later on. No idea why the (K) is also a sticker, but whatever. Of course by 1989 this whole thing would be very out of date, but that's the TA for you. 

Same story with this enamel sign that's been for sale (overpriced) on eBay for years and years:

s-l1600.jpg

Part of the reason I'm guessing this is that I know the TA's big station modernization/sign replacement project began in earnest about 1981/1982, and the enamel signs had to be done by an outside contractor. I could see them knocking out the whole order from '81-'83 or so with signs planned for the single letters that would be implemented in the 1980s. As @Lance has said, the TA often ordered signs for services that were not yet implemented (the B-division rolls of 1983/1984 had no double letters). I've seen lots of the enamel signs with the <C> and (K) but never one with the <CC>. Starting to think they were all printed with (A)<C>(K)<B>(D) or (A)<C>(E) and that was it. 

 

Edited by MHV9218
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Adding a few more photos to this thread, showing the 1981/1982 batch of enamel signs as well as some of the 70s ones:

I think those are stickers for the (CC) and (AA), but I'm not positive. This is from 14th, and that's one of the oldest styles of side entrance signs.

144928275_10219579260817707_458936608244

1983, John Abbott photo.

tumblr_pou5wxXC3y1sovzrpo1_1280.jpg

1985, Matt Weber photo. Those may (or may not) be stickers for the <CC> and (AA). 

 

47105647_10215793881271603_5696895246193

1984, Peter Allan Monroe photo

If that date is right, interesting, because the (CC) was still running 1984, and the <C> wouldn't start until 1985. Might be proof.

 

123316647_10216169768911712_507658819111

1988, Richard Serviss photo. 

This would be after they removed the stickers, though no idea why the (K) is so crooked.

 

Below are the short-lived 'half-and-half' signs from the 1970s:

11222305_10207228895625247_5461652877133

1977, Edward Gillon photo

 

12244814_10153746127368126_1513011762917

1981, Richard Greene photo

2930d8d6c4f9da8e82906e1415abe7e8a092d2f9

Mid-1970s, photographer unknown.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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So cute back when the (2)(5) lines were redbirds not the dull boring R142 or whatever it is called :(

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