21 November 2007

[info_design, street_blades] Street Signs from the Heartland

1141. We return to the street blade beat with a couple more from the Heartland, courtesy of our Mid-Continent Bureau Chief, Stan Kost.

This following image should have some resonancy with you if names of jazz like Count Basie and Charlie Parker mean anything to you:

What we have here is a couple of blades out of the heart of the 18th & Vine National Historic district in Kansas City, MO. As it happens, 18th & Vine had a hot jazz scene back in the day, and some of America's more famous jazz musicians came from or passed through there; it's credited with being one of the cradles of jazz in America. It's said that the KC flavor of jazz has its own spice to it; I'm no jazz fan, so I'll have to take Wikipedia's word for it (for what it's worth, the entry on 18th & Vine seems written by a fan, but there's Wikipedia for you). It is known as the historic center of KC's African-American community.

Technically speaking, the street signs are very simply informative. The location in a historic district is merely indicated by a brown square on the blade's left end–the eye naturally starts reading there, so nobody misses the fact of the esteemed area of town that one is in; the banner tells the story of what happened there. As far as the blades' structure, it's notable that the sheet-steel sign is supported by a bracket which is itself mated to the sign. While not uncommon, it's unusual here in Oregon (we certainly can't think of any examples of this construction here about), and we can make the observation that such a construction not only allows for the support of sheet blades that could be quite large, but also probably makes replacement and repair comparatively simple.

Next, we go to Leavenworth Kansas:

This is a view of the corner of 4th and Shawnee, presumably in downtown Leavenworth. This street blade is not one of the "Car-level" blades, but of the class that sticks to the overheads above the traffic by the street lights (this is our clue to its elevated purpose). These are designed to inform the driver whilst still allowing them to keep thier eyes on the road in front–very simple level of information, all that one needs to know in transit at a glance.

The color and the font are what are of note here. From the banner on the right we can assume the historical importance to the state of Kansas of Leavenworth, and the design of the blade echoes this, with the brown tone of the sign suggesting sepia-toned daguerrotypes and the serifed font seeming to speak to a classical, old-fashioned vibe. I'd be interested to find what the small letters on the right end of the blade say, but the resolution of the photo resists this analysis.

We still have some more blades from Stan, which we'll post in a further discourse. If anyone out there has been following this, I want to see what your hometown street blades look like–they can by ordinary ones or special or funny, whatever, Let me share them with the world.

Send any of your street blade picture submssions hither for commentary, display, critique, and general fun.

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