19 Oct 2009 12:00 pm   //   Filed under: Transit, Typography

Subway sign mystery solved?

Imagine putting a dollar into vending machine, hitting the button for Coca-Cola, and seeing the machine dispense a green can. You’d know something was wrong. That’s how I felt when I saw the new signage at the DeKalb Avenue subway stop in Brooklyn.


I know, I’m odd about these things. But subway signs are white on black, not black on white! Why is the MTA futzing with its iconic signage?

I have a theory. I noticed a similar switch-a-roo last year in the Chambers Street station. Those oddball signs at Chambers are gone now. I think they were installed during a temporary change to the station layout, when a stairway was closed for repair work.

Likewise, these signs at DeKalb signal that the trains are temporarily skipping some stations, which are closed for repair work that will last a while. Maybe when there’s a change that’s permanent enough to require a new metal sign, but not so permanent it’s going to last forever, the MTA installs white signs instead of black ones. It’s a signal to the passenger to take special notice of this sign.

I might be wrong. On the F line, the new signs indicating the multi-year—but temporary—extension of the G train don’t look like this. They’re the standard white-on-black metal signs.