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Metro Fonts

Most subways use one of those ubiquitous standard typefaces you see everywhere else as well. Boring! Others are even unaware of corporate identity and have piled up a mixture of different fonts in their signage and paperwork over the decades. Chaotic!

But some subway operators communicate with their customers using exclusively designed corporate typefaces. These are subject of the compilation below.





CityFont NameDesignerYearSampleAvailabilityReference
AmsterdamM.O.L. Gerard Unger1974gerardunger.com
BerlinU8 Alfred Grenander architectural office1923fatype.combuchstabenmuseum.de
BerlinTransit (based on Frutiger) Erik Spiekermann, Lucas de Groot, Henning Krause1991fontshop.comtypophile.com
BrusselsBrusseline Eric de Berranger2006de-berranger.club.fr, de-berranger.club.fr (PDF)
Hong KongCasey (based on Tahoma and Frutiger) Dalton Maag1996i-circle.net (registration required)wikipedia.org
LisbonMetrolis Michael Barbosa, Freda Sack, David Quay1995identifont.com, typophile.com
LondonJohnston Edward Johnston1916paratype.com, p22.comTfL fonts, wikipedia.org
Mexico CityTipo Metro Lance Wyman1969haroldsfonts.com (rough lookalike)Lance Wyman via email, hablamosjuntos.org
MunichVialog Werner Schneider, Helmut Ness2002linotype.comtypophile.com, typeforum.de
New YorkMosaic fonts (in several variations) 1G. C. Heins, C. G. La Farge, S. J. Vickers1901haroldsfonts.com, myfonts.comStookey, Lee: Subway Ceramics. 1992. nysubwaymosaics.com
NewcastleCalvert Margaret Calvert1980linotype.com, identifont.comdesignmuseum.org, wikipedia.org
ParisMetropolitain (in six variations) Hector Guimard1901myfonts.com, myfonts.com, dafont.comDescouturelle, Frédéric; et. al.: Le métropolitain d'Hector Guimard. Somogy 2003.
ParisAlphabet Métro (based on Univers) Adrian Frutiger1973stbride.org
ParisParisine Jean François Porchez1996typofonderie.com, myfonts.comstbride.org, creativepro.com, typofonderie.com
PragueMetron 2Jiri Rathousky1974magtypo.cz, fonts-online.com
RotterdamRET 3Henk van Leyden1984Henk van Leyden via email
SantiagoTS Info, TS Mapa Departamento de Estudios Tipográficos (DET)2009DTPMDET
SeoulKorail / unknown designerca. 2003asiafont.comtypophile.com
SingaporeLTA Identity Typeface Hubert Jocham198?Hubert Jocham via email; LTAFont.PDF
StockholmSS-grotesk (SL-grotesk, digitized: Esseltub) 4Stig Åke Möller1955fontsgeek.cominuse.se, en.wikipedia.org
TorontoToronto Subway unknown designer1954quadrat.com, fontpool.composlfit.com, flickr.com, joeclark.org



1 Mosaic fonts in New York are still in place but the main signage fonts have become Akzidenz Grotesk from the mid-1960s and Helvetica from about 1980, both used in the iconic white on black background. Shaw, Paul: The (Mostly) True Story of Helvetica and the New York City Subway, 2008.
2 Metron in Prague was replaced by Helvetica in 1985. Remains only in metal lettering of station names.
3 RET in Rotterdam has been officially replaced by a standard font after a few years when a signage upgrade required a digitized font. Signs using RET remained only in a few places.
4 SS-grotesk in Stockholm has been replaced by Helvetica in the 1980s and later by FF Meta. Still found in some stations though.





Reference

Berry, John D.: Underground Typography. 23 March 2001: creativepro.com.

Clark, Joe: Inscribed in the Living Tile: Type in the Toronto Subway. Presented at the ATypI 2007 conference.

Cleary, Ed; Jürgen Siebert; Erik Spiekermann: Font Book. Digital Typeface Compendium. Volume 1+2. FontShop International 1995.

Designerstalk.com discussion about subway fonts.

Eason, Ron; Sarah Rookledge: Rookledge's International Handbook of Type Designers. Sarema Press 1991.

Subway fonts. myfonts.com.

Typophile.com discussion about subway fonts.

WhatTheFont. myfonts.com. Font indentifier and forum.






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