Old subway signage of a less complicated city

It’s always fun to come across vintage subway signs at stations across New York—and often they can tell us something about how people got around underground in a very different 20th century city.

Take a look at this entrance at the Fulton Street Station downtown. The contemporary signage is functional and color-coded.

But it’s so much lovelier the old-school way, when the sign above the stairs simply tells you this will take you “down town.”

At the Lorimer Street stop in Williamsburg you can switch to the “crosstown line,” a phrase I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone use when they say they’re about to jump on the G train.

It makes Brooklyn sound like one big town (or city, as it once was, of course) rather than collection of very different neighborhoods it is today.

“Subway Entrance” above this stairwell attached to the Trinity Building on Lower Broadway is done up in wonderful serif style. No train names or letters; its simplicity tells you everything you need to know.

Here’s one modern touch to get a kick out of: the stairs first lead you to a Subway sandwich shop.

Tags: , , , , , ,

5 Responses to “Old subway signage of a less complicated city”

  1. Raylene Says:

    Thank you so much for sharing these details about New York City. I love learning about the history as well as the city itself. I’ve not yet been to NYC, and I know it will be overwhelming whenever I do visit. Thanks for making it possible to visit before I actually get there!

    • trilby1895 Says:

      Raylene, I hope you will soon find yourself here in New York City. Like you, I’d dreamed of coming here since I was a child and when I finally did, after a lifetime of yearning, the reality did exceed the dream! History abounds and there still exist wondrous buildings that have managed to escape developers’ rapacious hands….but hurry up, if possible!

  2. A West Side Art Nouveau–like subway sign | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] don’t have to be a typeface nerd to appreciate loveliness the letters and numerals affixed to plaques and signs in the city’s earliest subway […]

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

    […] in time to a different New York as you make your way to your train. Luckily, other examples of vintage subway signage can be found in and outside various stations through the […]

  4. keenanpatrick424 Says:

    In Bklyn. Bronx Queens stations are there still TO CITY FROM CITY signs? They inferred the dominance of Manhattan.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: