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. In 2012, 42 years after the Standards Manual was released a rare copy was discovered in the basement of design firm Pentagram. The manual was found in a locker beneath old gym clothes.
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.
Now, under an agreement with the MTA, we are scanning and printing every page in a full-size hardcover book and after this campaign, this reissue will never become available again.