Street signs in Brooklyn Heights will soon be following the letter of the law. The Federal Highway Administration has mandated that your tax dollars be spent on replacing 250,000 capital-letter street signs in New York City with mixed-case—specifically utilizing a condensed version of the Clearview typeface (licensed as ClearviewHwy).
So far, about 11,000 street name signs have been replaced around NYC’s five boroughs to meet national standards in typography and surface reflectivity, according to The New York Times—including some along Brooklyn Heights’ Montague Street. Brown historical signs will maintain their color.
Clearview was created in the 1990s by designers Donald Meeker and James Montalbano, working with the Thomas D. Larson Pennsylvania Transportation Institute and the Texas A&M Transportation Institute. “With its crisp, clean design, Clearview represents exactly what its name suggests,” says city transportation commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan. “Whether through signs, markings or sidewalks, we’re bringing clarity and simplicity to street design.”
Developer Montalbano recalls about two years ago crossing the East River from Brooklyn—where he lives—coming off the Brooklyn Bridge and seeing a sign for “Chinatown” with an arrow in Clearview. About a month ago, he also noticed Clearview signs on Montague Street in the Heights. “It’s very exciting,” he told NY Times. “We’ve been working on this project for a very long time.”
A number of the new signs replace those scheduled for routine maintenance, as well as when streets are under repair or reconstruction. “But sometimes, the new signs appear to have replaced perfectly serviceable older signs with all-uppercase lettering,” the Times notes, which has meant of tirade of criticism directed toward the Highway Administration, an agency of the federal Department of Transportation. As a result, DOT has since eased or eliminated some 46 deadlines and/or mandates for dutiful compliance.