Old-school Manhattan subway signage

Beneath the Manhattan Municipal Building’s soaring vaulted ceiling is this original sign for the stairs to the BMT (aka, the J and Z) Chambers Street station.

A wonderful vintage lantern-like sign still lights the way at the entrance to the Fulton Street IRT station downtown.

Not all old-timey subway signs are charming. This 1970s-style sign announces the entrance to the Hunter College-68th Street IRT station.

Could this is where the Subway sandwich got the inspiration for their logo? The arrow looks awfully similar.

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6 Responses to “Old-school Manhattan subway signage”

  1. Lisa Says:

    Ooof! The Hunter College Station sign is horrific– so first-year typography student (–the “S” is an entirely different font than the “ubway”, apparently our first-year student typographer needed a certain S-form to pull off the awe-inspiring arrow gimmick!).

    Subway Sandwiches was founded in 1965, since this looks to be circa 1970’s maybe this sign was inspired by the sandwich chain, not the other way around! Perhaps Hunter College invited students to submit entries for a subway sign competition… and THIS was the winning design?

  2. wildnewyork Says:

    It is a typographical nightmare, absolutely. Could Subway be the inspiration? Frightening!

  3. Richard T. Pilchen Says:

    I helped design the Subway logo and did not use this one. The arrows were to show movement pointing in both directions since you go uptown and downtown, and the emphasis for our chain was the SUB had to be a different color so it stood out over WAY. It was ok to be similar to the transit system but more important that potential customers got to know the difference.

  4. wildnewyork Says:

    Hey, thanks for writing in! The Subway logo seems to working, considering how big the company has become. Unfortunately the same can’t be said for the subway sign in the 68th Street station.

  5. Deb at The Front Door Project Says:

    Instead of focusing on the last ugly sign, I’ll tell you how much I love the other two, especially the vertical one!

  6. The old-school subway signs at Chambers Street | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] make your way to your train. Luckily, other examples of vintage subway signage can be found in and outside various stations through the […]

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