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The Secrets to NYC Parks’ New Signs

Over the last five years, NYC Parks has very gradually introduced a new brand identity, including streamlined signs visible at most parks today.
Paula Scher, a partner at Pentagram, developed the signage pro bono—restricting park signs to just two typefaces (Akkurat and Chronicle) and updating the familiar leaf logo.
Paula Scher, a partner at Pentagram, developed the signage pro bono—restricting park signs to just two typefaces (Akkurat and Chronicle) and updating the familiar leaf logo.Pentagram

Anticipating the questions of New York City park users is no small feat. The city’s Department of Parks and Recreations is the steward for some 29,000 acres of parkland across more than 5,000 different park properties, from spray showers and dog runs to beaches and stadiums. Knowing what service info any conceivable visitor might need—and often in languages other than English—resulted in a sprawling system of ad-hoc signage plastered over fences around New York’s parks.

Over the last five years, NYC Parks has very gradually introduced a new brand identity, including streamlined signs visible at most parks today. Paula Scher, a partner at Pentagram, developed the signage pro bono—restricting park signs to just two typefaces (Akkurat and Chronicle) and updating the familiar leaf logo. CityLab talked with Scher about how she brought the unruly signage system to heel and what she learned in the process.