More praise for Helvetica and the New York City Subway System

The current issue of Visible Language (45.3, pp. 261–263) contains a review of Helvetica and the New York City Subway System by the editor Sharon Helmer Poggenpohl. It is very laudatory and concludes on this positive note, “The book design facilitates taking different paths through the material, the visual examples tell their own story. Look carefully at the dates, when something was created and whether it lasted. The running narrative is staightforward, while the footnotes go into historical detail and the timeline at the end of the book presents complete context. This is excellent design history—contextualized, presenting the facts, well documented—it is readable, viewable and researchable.” What is so gratifying about Poggenpohl’s assessment of the book is her concise understanding of how its different elements—the images, the text, the footnotes and the timeline—are woven together to tell the story from several related perspectives. This was a key consideration in the design that Abby Goldstein and I created for the book. The goal was not to produce an illustrated text or a picture book with captions, but something greater than either of those formats. Furthermore, I wanted to make the footnotes accessible for those interested in the further details of the story without obstructing the narrative for those who were simply eager to find out what happened. It is nice to know that we appear to have succeeded in juggling those two elements, along with the images and the timeline.

I have subscribed to Visible Language (originally The Journal of Typographic Research), the premier academic resource for those interested in typography and its related subjects, for over thirty years which makes this review especially welcome. Thanks.