The needler in the haystack.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

John Louise rules!




Corrected sign (at top), thanks to Public Works
Superintendent John Louise.


Plainfield's Superintendent of Public Works John Louise rules!

John got on the horn with the County authorities, who had 'improved' the street signs along Park Avenue (which is a county highway, Route 531) by giving a new spelling for 'Stelle Ave'.  Stelle is one of the early settler family names of the Plainfield area.

The corrected sign is up for the world to see.

Sadly, in my view, the new signs also reflect the national trend toward standardizing everything about roadway signage: size, color and orthography.

The new signs look to me like they could be in the new 'Clearview' typeface (see here), which is gradually replacing the older 'Highway Gothic' (see here) which was developed during World War II and initially used for traffic signage at the Pentagon.

Where many municipalities (including Plainfield) used an older orthography of black letters in all caps on a white background (which can still be found if you look hard enough), this is now falling out of favor and being replaced with the FHWA white letters on a green background in upper and lower case, along with standardized abbreviations (see here, for example).

While the signage is truly legible and no doubt beneficial on roads where one is driving at 55-60 mph, using it on local streets seems to me to be taking the charm (think of Cranford, where the signs are vertical concrete columns with the letters set out in blue ceramic tiles) out of our communities, and making them all cookie-cutter style.



Older style sign in all caps. Even older signs in Plainfield
can be found with black letters on white background.

Whether or not you think highway signage is going to Hell in a handbasket, we all owe John Louise a debt of gratitude in making sure that street names are correctly spelt.

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