The subway system has been on our minds for obvious reasons lately, and we recently stumbled across two interesting collections of metro miscellany. The first is more provincial in its focus —a look at all the art that decorates our fair city’s subway system (we’re a little embarrassed at how few of the works we actually recognize, but hello, cab addiction. Also, Brooklyn actively antagonizes us every time we try to cross the East River.)
The other is a compendium of international subway logos, which is, among other things, a fascinating glimpse at the many ways in which to draw the letter “M.”
We are, as in many pursuits, torn between fashion and function. Japan certainly has the most graphically appealing logos: We love the colorful matrix of dots that denotes Hiroshima’s public transit; ditto the tuning-fork-bisecting-a-circle that is Osaka and the mod green umbrella of Tokyo. But removed from context, it’s impossible to know what these symbols represent.
There are too many tired and dull logos to count, with two of the worst offenders being our own PATH train and the San Francisco BART system. Black and blue, ew. And a surprising number of logos that are indistinguishable from the Safeway sign.
The best ones favor modern and bright designs, clean lines, and are immediately recognizable as metro signs no matter where you are in the world. Cheers to London, Mexico City, and Helsinki!