In 1967 the New York City Transit Authority hired Massimo Vignelli and Bob Noorda of the design firm Unimark International to design a signage and wayfinding system that would solve the problem underground. The work they delivered, the 1970 New York City Transit Authority Graphic Standards Manual, succeeded in that goal and, perhaps unintentionally, the Standards Manual became one of the world’s classic examples of modern design.
If you found yourself in the New York City subway in the 1960s, you were probably lost. Signs didn’t help you find your way, standards didn’t exist, even handmade lettering was common. Mass confusion was the status quo. In 1970, the Standards Manual changed everything.
42 years after issue, Jesse Reed & Hamish Smyth discovered a rare copy in the basement of design firm Pentagram. Under and exclusive agreement with the MTA, this book is being scanned and reissued as a full-size hardcover. Part of the agreement was that it will only be available during this 30-day Kickstarter campaign. The book will never be reissued again, so make sure to grab a piece of beautiful and historic graphic design work that is prevalent everywhere in the New York City subway to this day.