BROOKLYN HISTORICAL SOCIETY

Last week, I made an appointment at the Brooklyn Historical Society to look through their manuscript collection and peruse the incredible typography and lettering.

The building itself is pretty amazing (with some of the nicest doorknobs I’ve ever seen). It was built in 1881, designed by architect George B. Post specifically for the Long Island Historical Society (as the Society was then known). Books and magazines from the last several hundred years line the stacks of the library, and nearly all of them contain beautiful letterforms.

I looked through boxes and boxes of club ephemera, certificates, and maps from the 19th and 20th centuries. Here are a few good ones:

The Historical Society library is open to the public, but if you want to look at the archives and manuscript collections, you’ll need an appointment.

(Though it creates a nice ambience for a library, the lighting is not ideal for photographing documents, so please excuse the not-so-great photos.)

Brooklyn Historical Society
128 Pierrepont Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201
brooklynhistory.org


TIPOGRAFIA ARNO

While wandering around in Florence (trying to avoid the Road World Championship) I walked by a printing studio on Via Guelfa. Raul, the printer inside, beckoned me in and showed me around as he set my name on a composing stick. We talked about Lou Reed and then I was on my way.


Tipografia Arno
Via Guelfa 38R
Firenze
50129
Italia

ICE

Ice boxes are a streetside staple of New York bodegas. The typography and architecture vary slightly from model to model, but the basic formula is the same: snow-capped red shadow type on a battered white cooler, somewhat obscured by hastily rendered tags and stickers. A few seen recently in Brooklyn and Manhattan:

RETURN TO NEWARK

Despite efforts to revitalize Newark, many of the businesses and storefronts in the downtown area remain shuttered and crumbling. Signs advertise businesses that are long gone and the ghost signs that pepper brick walls are fading away, being erased by weather and construction cranes. The signs and buildings that remain (like the beautiful Newark Theater Marquee, United States Savings Bank Building, and the Griffith Piano Company Building) are boarded up, advertised over, or covered by For Rent signs. Here are a few favorites (including a surviving Solari flip board in Newark’s Penn Station) from a recent trip to Newark, taken mostly on and around Broad, Market, and Halsey Streets:

More photos from Newark here and here.

BERLIN PREVIEW

Here are a few of my favorite shots from a recent trip to Berlin. The city has beautiful neon, fading hand painted signs, wild train station designs, Futura everywhere, Zoidbergs, some fine umlauts, and graffiti–lots and lots of graffiti.

p.s. I maybe accidentally deleted the main Vernacular Typography website. It will be back up shortly with a couple thousand new images. Updates will be posted here and here—>

ISRAEL PREVIEW

A preview of the new Israel section soon to be added to the main archive. Typography and lettering from Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Haifa, Ein Gedi, Tzfat, Golan Heights, Negev Desert, random kibbutzim, and other places.

Woodward Vernacular Typography Desert Israel Gas Station

Woodward Vernacular Typography Desert Israel Neon Billboard

Woodward Vernacular Typography Israel Jerusalem Neon Sign

Woodward Vernacular Typography Israel Jerusalem Arabic Window

Woodward Vernacular Typography Israel Jerusalem Western Wall Trilingual Street Sign

Woodward Vernacular Hebrew Typography Israel Jerusalem Peeling Poster

Woodward Vernacular Hebrew Typography Israel Jerusalem

Woodward Vernacular Hebrew Typography Israel Jerusalem

Woodward Vernacular Hebrew Typography Israel Jerusalem Yad Veshem

Woodward Vernacular Hebrew Typography Israel Jerusalem

Woodward Vernacular Hebrew Typography Israel Jerusalem

Woodward Vernacular Hebrew Typography Israel Jerusalem Storefront

Woodward Vernacular Hebrew Typography Israel Trilingual Sign

Woodward Vernacular Hebrew Typography Israel Jerusalem Blackletter

Woodward Vernacular Hebrew Script Typography Israel Tel Aviv

Woodward Vernacular Hebrew Typography Israel Tel Aviv Storefront

Woodward Vernacular Hebrew Typography Israel Tel Aviv Storefront

Woodward Vernacular Hebrew Typography Israel Tzfat Architectural Lettering

Woodward Vernacular Hebrew Typography Israel Kibbutz

Woodward Vernacular Hebrew Typography Israel Graffiti

Woodward Vernacular Hebrew Typography Israel Handwritten Sign

If you’re interested in supporting Vernacular Typography, consider making a donation to the project through Artspire & New York Foundation for the Arts 501(c)3 HERE. All contributions are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.

GOODBYE CONEY ISLAND

Summer is gone and so is Coney Island as I remember it.

Vernacular Typography Coney Island Astroland Park Gregory & Paul's

Vernacular Typography Coney Island Shoot The Freak Sign

Vernacular Typography Coney Island Grill

Vernacular Typography Coney Island Gregory and Paul's

Vernacular Typography Coney Island Museum Hand Painted Sign

Vernacular Typography Coney Island Storefront

Coney Island was once populated by an incredible landscape of signs and symbols. The few storefronts that retain their unique signage seem more and more endangered with every visit.

Vernacular Typography Coney Island Storefront

Vernacular Typography Coney Island Storefront

Vernacular Typography Coney Island Storefront

Vernacular Typography Coney Island Storefront

Vernacular Typography Coney Island Storefront

Vernacular Typography Coney Island Storefront

Vernacular Typography Coney Island Storefront

Vernacular Typography Coney Island Hand Painted Sign

Vernacular Typography Coney Island Hand Painted Sign

Vernacular Typography Coney Island Storefront

Vernacular Typography Coney Island Hand Painted Sign

Vernacular Typography Coney Island Hand Painted Sign

Vernacular Typography Coney Island Nathan's Neon Sign Clam Bar

Vernacular Typography Coney Island Nathan's Neon Sign

Vernacular Typography Coney Island Nathan's Neon Sign

Vernacular Typography Coney Island Hand Painted Sign

Vernacular Typography Coney Island Storefront Neon

Vernacular Typography Coney Island El Dorado Sign

Vernacular Typography Coney Island El Dorado Ticket Booth

Vernacular Typography Coney Island Hand Painted Storefront

Vernacular Typography Coney Island Hand Painted Storefront

Vernacular Typography Coney Island Hand Painted Storefront

Vernacular Typography Coney Island Wonder Wheel Arcade Sign

Vernacular Typography Coney Island Wonder Wheel Arcade Sign Tilt-A-Whirl

Vernacular Typography Coney Island Wonder Wheel Neon Sign

Vernacular Typography Coney Island Wonder Wheel Neon Sign

Vernacular Typography Coney Island Wonder Wheel Arcade Sign Spook-A-Rama

In 2004, a Creative Time initiative attempted to revive the fading signscape. A group of 25 artists formed The Dreamland Artsits Club and hand painted murals in the area as well as signs for local businesses. Sadly, even many of those have since disappeared or have become isolated fragments.

Vernacular Typography Coney Island Dreamland Club Sign El Dorado

Vernacular Typography Coney Island Dreamland Club Sign

Vernacular Typography Coney Island Dreamland Artist Club Sign

Vernacular Typography Coney Island Dreamland Artist Club Sign

Vernacular Typography Coney Island Hand Painted Sign

Despite neighborhood opposition, development corporations continue to homogenize and strip Coney Island of its personality, replacing beautiful and inventive lettering with horrifically bland banners that are completely devoid of any aesthetic value.

Vernacular Typography Coney Island For Rent Sign

Vernacular Typography Coney Island Retail Space Sign

Vernacular Typography Pathetic Coney Island Sign

Years ago, Coney Island felt like a typographic oasis, far removed from the standardized signs and sterile typography that now overwhelms most of New York. Today, it seems more like everywhere else.

Vernacular Typography Coney Island Storefront 2003

Vernacular Typography Coney Island Storefront 2012

View 100 more images on the Coney Island II section of the main archive.

If you’re interested in supporting Vernacular Typography, consider making a donation to the project through Artspire & New York Foundation for the Arts 501(c)3 HERE. All contributions are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.

WOODSIDE PRESS

I just picked up some letterpress invitations printed at the incredible Woodside Press in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. The press originally opened in 1993 in Woodside, Queens after acquiring equipment from the American Type Founders Company liquidation. In 1998, they moved to their current space, which is filled to the brim with amazing type paraphernalia and not just one, but two Linotype machines. They were nice enough to let me look around at some of their amazing stuff.

Click through for more

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