Do not lean on door

NYC MTA Sign | Do not lean on door“Do not lean on door” – NYC MTA

Have you seen this?

If you ride the N line, you may have noticed that the “Do not lean on door” sign seems to have been cut to pieces before going into mass production.

On every subway car, each of these signs is slightly different. Some have slight varying weights in the typography, some have more spacing between letters than others. Some barely hold consistency within an individual sign – and that is all fine. They mostly conform to the modular system that Massimo Vignelli designed back in 1972, and they get the job done by remaining virtually unseen. This one however crosses that special threshold where it becomes visible to the average person, that someone messed something up along the way.

Lets take a look at what exactly is going on here.
First of all, it is obvious that letters from previous signs have been combined together to make this one. The O’s have been turned on their sides, the A looks as if it has been cut out with scissors, and the N’s come to terse endings on the right side of each letter. I am still not sure if they was built out of 2 separate characters, or also cut, possibly with a straight edge and exacto blade.

What I like about this, is that is it obvious someone tried really hard to make it this way. This was done by hand, and with serious intention. Whomever was on the job that day obviously saw something was wrong and attempted to fix it, and by fixing it they took what was supposed to be a ubiquitous statement to the public, and made it an object of attention.

As eliason said on Typeophile,

“I think it’s clever, the up-and-down alignment suggesting the rumble of a train ride and the fallen-over o’s representing what might happen to riders if they don’t follow the sign’s advice.”