Urban Lettering Walks

Urban lettering walks are day tours, usually lasting three hours, dedicated to seeking out beautiful, odd and intriguing examples of lettering in the streetscapes of a single city. The tours, which principally take place in the five boroughs of New York City, embrace a wide range of lettering in terms of style, technique and materials: inscriptions carved or cast in stone, painted “ghost” signs on brick walls, decaying neon signs, graffiti and more.

Monumental Design: Lettering in Green-Wood

I will be doing a lettering walk at historic Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn on Sunday, September 14 from 1 to 3 pm. For details and to reserve a place click on the link above. Although I have often included cemeteries in my various lettering tours, this will be the first time that I have done an exclusive cemetery walk.
18th century tombstone for Maria Heuys Boerum, Green-Wood Cemetery. Photograph by Paul Shaw (2014).
Although the cemetery was established in 1838, …
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Sagmeister unmasked

The TDC lettering walk on Sunday, May 19 was a gray, rainy mess. Although five participants stuck it out to the end, it was a miserable day and the new signage gems that we found in the Woodhaven and Richmond Hill neighborhoods were overshadowed by the difficulty of photographing them in the drizzle. Not only was my camera wet but so were my glasses. I had no idea what I was even looking at as I took photographs—and the results …
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Los Angeles Lettering Walk

I am leading a lettering walk of Downtown Los Angeles on Saturday, March 2 from 10 am to 1 pm. It will be a reprise of one that I did during TypeCon 2010. The walk will take in the usual range of urban lettering sights—carved inscriptions, metal letters, painted signs, plastic signs, vinyl signs, terrazzo letters, vernacular writing, graffiti (maybe)—but most of all we will see lots of neon signs, both active and dead.
Dancing Girls (detail) neon sign.
To register …
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The Lettermaniac or Literaphiliac Profiled: A Day with Alexandra Horowitz

On Looking: Eleven Walks with Experts. Jacket design by Tal Goretsky.
Alexandra Horowitz, Professor of Psychology at Barnard College (Columbia University) and author of Inside of a Dog (a no. 1 New York Times bestseller) has just written On Looking: Eleven Walks with Expert Eyes (Scribner). One of the eleven “experts” is me, a literaphiliac—someone suffering from a malady that “makes one seek, and see, letters”—in Horowitz’s view. Guilty as charged, though I would have used the term lettermaniac. Anyway, I …
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Typo-Pizza in New Haven

On Saturday, November 17 a small group of New York area lettering enthusiasts finally made their way to New Haven to see Yale University’s lettering delights. It was a trip that had been planned in the summer and cancelled twice due to inclement weather. The idea for the trip was sparked by an article on lettering at Yale written by Reed Reibstein for an upcoming issue of Codex. The trip was co-led by Reed and myself with Nick Sherman  (Mr. …
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Walking tour of The Loop in Chicago on October 10, 2012

Magnificent Mile and The Loop, Chicago
Wednesday, October 10
4 pm to 6 pm
students $10
professionals $20
sponsored jointly by AIGA Chicago and the STA
Chicago is one of the world’s great urban centers, noted for its rich array of excellent architecture spanning over a century. This makes it also one of the best places to see a wide variety of lettering, especially in the heart of the city: The Loop. I will lead a walk down the Magnificent Mile, across the River and around …
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Shave and a Haircut: 2012 SEGD Conference: The Bridge

Barber Shop, Crown Heights (Brooklyn) (2007)Last week (June 7–9) the Society for Environmental Graphic Design (SEGD) held its annual conference in New York City. For the final session on Friday, June 8 of the 2012 SEGD Conference: The Bridge Anna Sharp and her colleagues at the New York design firm Two Twelve put together a short interstitial slide show of lettering in Brooklyn and Manhattan. Their goal was to “depict the diversity of cultures, essence of the …
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Woodhaven and Richmond Hill Walking Tour on June 10, 2012

Wood-Rich Color, Woodhaven, Queens (2008)
Woodhaven and Richmond Hill
Sunday, June 10
11 am to 2 pm
$25
$15 for SEGD 212 Conference attendees
The next lettering tour of New York will be of the adjoining neighborhoods of Woodhaven and Richmond Hill in Queens, accessible via the elevated J train. Both have solid business areas with good examples of pre-digital commercial lettering: paint shops, jewelers, candy stores, beauty salons and pet shops. There is also the usual institutional lettering to be found in New …
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TDC Queens Walking Tour

TDC Type Walk with Paul Shaw
Woodside and Jackson Heights
Sunday, April 29
11 am to 2 pm
TDC members $35
Non members $45
El Indio Amazonico (Jackson Heights, Queens)
The Spring 2012 TDC Type Walk will return to Queens, specifically to the neighboring neighborhoods of Woodside and Jackson Heights. These are two ethnically strong neighborhoods—Irish, Filipino, Korean, Ecuadorean, Colombian, Chinese and more—which means that we will see a wide variety of commercial lettering as well as the usual institutional examples. Thus, there will be Irish …
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Bushwick / East Williamsburg and Tribeca Lettering Walks

This spring I organized two custom urban lettering tours in New York City. On March 4, at the behest of Troy Leinster, I led alumni of the summer (short-term) CooperType program on walk through Bushwick and East Williamsburg. Two days later I was supposed to lead a group of students from the Ringling School of Art and Design in Sarasota on a walk in Tribeca. Due to some confusion they were unable to make it, but several of the CooperType …
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Type Walk Berlin

One of the highlights of my brief visit to Berlin in July was a short type walk led by Florian Hardwig. The highlight of the highlight was a visit to the Jerusalem und Neues Kirchen cemetery (part of a complex of six cemeteries called Friedhöfe vor dem Halleschen Tor). Here are a few of the most interesting items that Indra Kupferschmid and I came across after we broke away from the rest of the group.
Thefirst is a gravestone for …
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TDC Midtown South Walking Tours on May 10 and 12, 2011

Midtown South is the area between 42nd Street and 23rd Street. Some of it is familiar to tourists, but much of it is not. The two One Club tours will try to cover this area, if not from river to river, at least from Third Avenue to Ninth Avenue. The neighborhoods in this area are home to a variety of lettering styles, materials and techniques to see. These tours represent an opportunity to go beyond …
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TDC West Village Walking Tour on April 10, 2011

Last Spring the TDC New York City Lettering Tour valiantly tried to cover Soho and Greenwich Village—and failed. We had a great time in Soho and ran out of time (and good weather) before we could get to the Village. This April we will try again to see what lettering jewels (and junk) the West Village has to offer. If time allows, we will continue to the Gansevoort Meat Market district to see what has survived there from the area’s …
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