April 24, 2008

Alphabet City

Alphabet City Flickr Set thumbnail

Last weekend I attended a typography walking tour around the Lower East Side of Manhattan led by Tobias Frere-Jones (of Hoefler & Frere-Jones fame). The tour focused mainly on engraved and painted signage from bygone years. Some examples were presented because they were so damn beautiful, and others were presented for the exact opposite reason, but all were very intriguing, representing a place, time, and cultural inheritance in the history of the city and its people. Tobias told us that the tour was inspired by his research leading up to the design of Gotham—a gorgeous typeface, though fast approaching ubiquity—in which he crisscrossed all the blocks below 14th street taking photos of every bit of preserved type he could find. At multiple points over the course of the walk we were treated to some of Gotham’s ancestors and original inspiration. Tobias has only done a few of these tours, and they sell out within a couple of hours, but if you are in the NYC area, I highly recommend signing up (check out the AIGA NY events page for updates). There are few chances to be lead around such a historic city to look at interesting typography by someone so knowledgeable of craft and heritage. I managed to take photos of all the type we stopped to study, as well as a couple other examples along the way, and dropped them on to Flickr for continued viewing pleasure.

Commentary (7):

1. Eric Strauss says… apr 24, 2008 | 5:48 pm

I’ll be putting this on my to-do list, for sure.

2. Matthew Buchanan says… apr 24, 2008 | 9:18 pm

Another reason to coincide a trip to New York. Great pics, thanks for sharing.

3. Stuart Frisby says… apr 25, 2008 | 12:18 am

Sweet photos Jason. I have a thing for old advertising signage - even the bad ones!

4. Jason Beaird says… apr 25, 2008 | 11:32 am

Awesome photo set. I would love to go on one of these tours. Ames and I are trying to plan a summer trip to NY, so I’ll keep my eye on the events page.

On Tuesday, the AIGA chapter here in Columbia had Stefan Sagmeister give his “Things I have Learned in My Life” presentation. It’s always refreshing to get design inspiration from outside the web, especially from industry masterminds like Frere-Jones and Sagmeister.

5. Brad Chmielewski says… apr 25, 2008 | 4:16 pm

A walking typography tour, sounds like something I might have todo. Great photos and thanks for sharing.

6. Cameron Skene says… apr 25, 2008 | 9:13 pm

Doh! The shot of the Williamsburg Bridge is 50 feet from my door.

7. bearskinrug says… apr 28, 2008 | 7:43 am

Oooh - that sounds like fun! And a perfect chance for you to use your Segway!