9. The First Signs in the New York City Subway Systems were the Mosaic Ones, Then Color-Coded Tile Ones


Heins & LaFarge, architects of the IRT – the private operator of the original underground New York City Subway line, designed the first signs in the New York City subway system in 1904. These are the mosaic station name tablets still seen on subway platforms today. The name tablets were made of small tile pieces in both serif and sans serif. There were not any uniform lettering system at this point, including typeface, type style, even the arrows and decorative borders came in many different styles.


Then Squire J. Vickers, chief architect of the New York City system before and after its consolidation of the lines, created a color-coded tile system for the IND subway system to help denote express and local stops.

Next, read about the Secrets of the NYC subway system and fun facts about NYC subway’s opening day.