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Observations Whilst Waiting for the C Train

27 March, 2013

Spending 30 minutes waiting for her train home (beware the Sunday evening subway dawdle) without a book, the Author whiled away the time by examining the station’s typography. She became intrigued by the variation of the ‘E’ and ‘S’ in WEST 4. The first, cleaner ‘West 4’ is standard around the station, while the second, dirtier ‘West 4’ differs from all others. Notice the prong length on the ‘E’ and the negative space of the curves on the ‘S’. They are decidedly different in these two signs.

One wonders: did they run out of the ‘E’ and ‘S’ tiles? Or, if the lettering is done by stencil, did the painter momentarily misplace the standard ‘E’ and ‘S’? Is that ‘S’ upside down (no—if one flips the ‘S’ it’s clearly a different type)? Is it normal to spend so much time fixating on small variations of typography? Does the Author regret not having a book to distract her? To answer the last question: no.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Anonymous permalink
    2 April, 2013 3:02 pm

    All signage for the mta is made by 10 people in a factory in Bushwick. I think they only replace letters or words as needed, and probably have slightly different stencils each time, but YES they use stencils!

  2. 2 April, 2013 4:09 pm

    Fantastic! Thank you for this fascinating information! I’m always delighted to learn more about such things.

    In researching MTA signage just now, I found out that the MTA sells bits and bobs from trains and stations that have gone out of use: http://www.mta.info/nyct/materiel/collectsales/

    Neat!

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