City of Sound is about cities, design, architecture, music, media, politics and more. Written by Dan Hill since 2001.

It’s always nice to see a fine choice of typeface being made somewhere – but the choice of typeface to be deployed on the Freedom Tower cornerstone seems a particularly apposite and meaningful decision. No less than one of our favourite typefaces, Gotham:

Freedom Tower cornerstone, typeset in Gotham

"It could have been imperial Trajan. Or elegant Bodoni. Or generic Helvetica. But the search for the ideal typeface to be inscribed on the Freedom Tower cornerstone at the World Trade Center site ended simply, in Gotham … its 26 words were set in a typeface steeped in local origin, developed four years ago at the Hoefler Type Foundry in the Cable Building, at Broadway and Houston Street, by Tobias Frere-Jones, a native New Yorker … The typeface, Gotham, deliberately evokes the blocky, no-nonsense, unselfconscious architectural lettering that dominated the streetscape from the 1930’s through the 1960’s in building names, neon signs, hand-lettered advertisements and lithographed posters."

Michael Gericke, a partner in the Pentagram studio, which designed the cornerstone … said Gotham "didn’t look like something that was created yesterday and would be gone tomorrow … It seems like it’s part of the larger urban environment," he said. "It seems, in a way, that it’s always been there." Another Pentagram partner, Michael Bierut, likened Gotham to the Manhattan street grid. "It doesn’t show individual authorship," he said, "but it shows a character you wouldn’t find anywhere else."

[‘Tis in fact the CITYOFSOUND house font too, but I guess that doesn’t have quite the same resonance]

New York Times: A 9/11 Cornerstone, Chiseled With a New York Accent [registration req. – free]
earlier here at CITYOFSOUND: Gotham and vernacular type
The Morning News: Is Gotham the New Interstate?
Update: Jessica Helfand on the choice of Gotham, over at Design Observer


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