“Whether you’re a life-long New Yorker or a first-time visitor, everyone knows the feeling of walking out of a building or a subways station and being turned around, not knowing where you are,” said Janette Sadik-Khan, Transportation Commissioner. “These maps will help everyone in the city get around.” The signs will be located at high-traffic pedestrian locations in Midtown, Chinatown, Long Island City and Prospect Heights and Western Crown Heights. A sample shows that they will include major landmarks, local businesses, and estimated transit times within a 5-minute proximity. What's innovative is that these new maps will be laser printed directly on glass, adds Matt Chaban, and they will be formatted in "'heads-up mapping,' meaning that they are oriented the way a person is looking."
The winning bid for the project comes from PentaCity, a group made up of graphic design studio Pentagram, map makers City ID and industrial designers Billings Jackson. Pentagram has collaborated with the city on other recent projects including the the LOOK safety campaign and new parking signs.
The $6 million project was funded largely by the federal Department of Transportation, and most of the rest from local business improvement districts (BIDs). Many BIDs already have their own signs, says Chaban, but "[t]he goal was to unify all the wayfinding signage, including a new font called Helvetica DOT that Pentagram designed special for the department, a throwback to the same font gracing the subways." The city believes that the signs will help people learn the city better, and Sadik-Khan said, "That's good for business, that's good for communities, that's good for everybody. People will start to mix it up, exploring new neighborhoods and even new blocks in their old neighborhoods."