For much of the twentieth century, the New York City subway system was seen as a terrifying place—often compared to a lurking, underground monster where crime was rampant and rats roamed. It didn't help that there was no sense of structure behind the system—even the signage was made up of a mishmash of fonts, and handmade lettering was not uncommon. In 1967, the New York City Transit Authority (soon to become part of the MTA) hired Massimo Vignelli and Bob Noorda of the design firm Unimark International to create a graphics system that would give the subway a uniform language across its many, crisscrossing lines. Now, graphics fans can rejoice: a Kickstarter campaign will bring the guide back to life in the form of a full-size reissue, available if you pledge before October 9, 2014.
This rare copy of the manual was discovered in 2012 in the basement of Pentagram Design's New York City office by Jesse Reed and Hamish Smyth. The two got permission from the MTA to reissue it via Kickstarter.
The manual maps out different sign combinations that stations might use.
Vignelli and Noorda's thorough analysis continues to inform the subway's wayfinding system today.
In the guide, the designers outlined every possible letter combination and the spacing that must be allowed between each letter.
Available through Kickstarter, the manual will be reissued as a 372-page hardcover.