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Does anyone know what this font for the old New York Subway signage is?
I guess it was hand-painted or stencilled maybe. But is there a copycat font out there now?
Can't any find any font enough consistent to match all lettering (styles) at the same time. If I have to reproduce it, I'd probably mash up fonts to recreate this un-consistency. Cape Arcona might provide some interesting ones.
Related topics with more suggestions for alternatives: http://www.typophile.com/node/80009, http://typophile.com/node/98458, http://typophile.com/node/112952
Looks like a metal enamel sign from pre-1950. Production technique would probably have been stencil, painting and fusing.
I doubt any of these are still in use, so competing an alphabet to make a font would be a daunting task. As the sign says this is for the 8th Avenue Independent System. So in the same year that it was produced, other New York subway systems would have produced completely different lettering styles. All that can be hoped for is that there are photos showing old signage that can be combed through to find any that are consistent with this one. A long shot is that the stencils, or drawings for them, have survived.
_New Yorker_ article from April 29, 2014, online at http://www.newyorker.com/business/currency/how-new-yorks-subway-signs-ca...
Paul Shaw's book on _Helvetica and the New York City Subway System: The True (Maybe) Story_ 
A Wiki entry http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_York_City_Subway_nomenclature
Google "New York Subway signage"
BTW the sign has a real mix of styles. The narrow _W_ seems like an almost monospace companion to the other letters, but _M_ is wider than one would expect if monospace was the rule. Some letters like _B_ and the top half of _R_ follow a "stovepipe/gas pipe" design. Others, like _S_ do not.
I work with Bourgeois a lot. It just so happens to feature a few eccentricities that remind me of that sign. They're totally unalike in style, though.
In this sample, I mixed Bourgeois Condensed and Condensed Alt on the first line. On the second and third line I mixed Bourgeois and Bourgeois Alt.
Rob, I agree Bourgeois is interesting in this context. Some versions of _M_ and _W_.