19 November 2007

[info_design, street_blades] Vancouver Flirts With Helvetica

1132. We were up in VanWA today for a few minutes doing our last apres-Con bit–ferrying a dear friend home to his humble hovel out near NE Burton Rd and NE 98th Avenue, and I was, as is my wont, eyeing the street signs as we went.

Now, I've always liked the street blades in greater VanWA. Big, clear, easy to read, and affixed with the City logo on the left end (the City of Vancouver's logo is one of the best local logos we have going, too–but that's another story, which we still might touch on along the way here, but let's move on the the nub of our gist here).

I noticed something different about the type out near NE 95th Ave, something about the the lower curves of the numeric glyphs. the curled up tails, rather than the 'hanging' tails I expected to see.

Here, for illumination, is an angle on NE 96th Ave at Burton Road:

Like I said, clear, communicative, delivers information in adverse photographic conditions. There's something unexpectedly different about the type that the numerals are in. See it yet?

If not, here's a better angle, courtesy of The Wife™. look close.

See the difference yet? If not, heres an illustration. On the left, the number 96 in the free Blue Highway font, on the right, the font I think the above sign is actually in....

Left, above: the numbers we expect to see; right, above: the numbers we saw.

And I think that font is Helvetica. The letterforms for "Burton" seem to have a standard highway-font look, though, but the numerals–that's Helvetica, or a derivative font that's so close to Helvetica in style that it makes little difference.

Curious, no? In my career as a bladespotter I've seen many signs with many typefaces, but I've never seen one that so clearly looks like Helvetica.

Now, as far as the Vancouver logo goes, I really enjoy it. It's not always a good idea to try and "cram" more than one approach into a logo form, but the idea of using a log fort with a blockhouse turret pretty much gives itself to forming the letter V, and references Vancouver's unique history as well.

I can't really say much more about VanWA's logo except to say that it's pretty cool beans.

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