Goodbye Gowanus

Painting of the letter G from a Gowanus mural project

Goodbye Gowanus
Goodbye to the Dutch who settled on these marshy shores.

Goodbye to the soldiers in the parking lot grave where they rest so that a rebellion could live to fight another day.

Goodbye to the stevedores who worked the docks walking back to their families each night with pilfered goods under their arms.

Goodbye to the social clubs from unnamed parts of an old world with your linoleum floors, folding chairs and cable TV.

Goodbye to the front yard statue shrines to Jesus, Mary and countless long forgotten saints.

Goodbye to the 9/11 memorial mural with the twin towers and giant eagle head partially blocked from view by the fence to keep people out.

Goodbye to the Court Street bridge with it’s wooden planks and sewage discharge signs.

Goodbye to the refineries and the scrap metal yard.

Goodbye to the barges and the tugboats slowly maneuvering up and down the canal.

Goodbye black mayonnaise. May you one day find a new home.

Goodbye to the street fairs where the paternity testing booth is conveniently located next to the kids bouncy castle.

Goodbye to the Catholic parades with the body of their savior carried aloft in a glass coffin. Dressed in all black as a somber band plays its dirge, the women hold wooden boxes to collect from the faithful while shop owners pass envelopes of cash to the old men.

Goodbye to the grinding truck with it’s school bell clanging randomly to lure out customers.

Goodbye to the delivery boys riding electric bikes the wrong way down the sidewalks of one way streets. I hope our tips helped feed your families back in those foreign lands.

Goodbye to the city trash dump. Although, you weren’t in our backyard, we know we’re the reason you exist.

Goodbye to the BQE and traffic helicopter alarm clocks breaking the early morning quiet. A border line, segmenting, defining and humming with rusty good intentions proven wrong.

Goodbye to the artists. Goodbye to your studios where you said goodbye to your apartment in favor of that third job.

Goodbye to the newly planted trees which caused the old timers to complain.

Goodbye to Smith street where even the gentrifiers are themselves gentrified.

Goodbye to the strollers clogging sidewalks in parade formation outside impeccably designed artisanal brunch locations.

Goodbye to the one bedroom, $1.5 million dollar condos that used to be brownstones. Goodbye to the family homes that they once were.

Goodbye to the French who move here because it reminds them of Paris but then complain because the United States is not socialist.

Goodbye to the protesters who tried for years to keep the corporate beast at bay and now shop there every Sunday wallowing amongst the windmills and organic garden.

Goodbye to the Brooklyn Battery and your unknown park outpost of willow trees and skateboard ramp.

Goodbye to the maritime factories that are now dustless showrooms of unaffordable luxuries.

Goodbye to the master distillers and cheese mongers holed up in your unnamed warehouses toiling at your trade.

Goodbye to Redhook. The subway will someday find you. Do not be jealous of your neighbor’s wealth for you still have a true heart.

Goodbye to the Redhook Raiders where your original home is a museum and your new home is just a building.

Goodbye to the Redhook terminal with its feral cat refuge and giant nativity scene. Another place where machines and automation have replaced strong men.

Goodbye Columbia Street, both protected and abandoned by the BQE.

Goodbye to the neighborhood gardens reclaimed from trash filled empty lots.

Goodbye to the F train although I think we’ll see each other again.

Goodbye Gowanus.

Ellis Island Typography

Beyond the amazing first hand accounts of the immigrants who passed through Ellis Island as they entered America, the prints and posters from the era are a treasure trove of wonderful design and typography. Here’s a sampling (although the photos don’t do them justice).

railroad map type

Fantastic typography detail from a Southern Pacific rail map. Note how it was important to include “correct” in the title.

Minnesota Poster Type Detail

Detail of the typography from a rail poster advertising land.

Minnesota Land Poster

Poster advertising land in Minnesota. Note the wide variety of typefaces used — not uncommon for the time period. Serifs, sans-serifs, stylized display faces, heavily condensed faces and even extra wide faces at the bottom. Also note the odd kerning in the phrase, “The Great Land Grant”. It might just be the typeface itself as the “GR” letter combo looks weird.

land grant poster in french

Another land grant poster — this time in French. The design of the top half really struck me as innovative and unique. The typography also takes a different track than many of the others using a thin slab serif face liberally and more classic serifs throughout. Note the poor kerning between the “A” and “V” in the word “travers”. It also looks like the poster was run once and then either stamped or re-printed with the agent’s name and info — the type block on the right is misaligned.

Hardtop

This is the logo from my grandfather’s hard hat. It has to be at least 50 years old (the hat at least, a quick search for the company yielded no results). He wasn’t a construction worker by trade, but did surveying for the Ohio turnpike as a summer job when he wasn’t teaching.

hardtop logo

I love the typeface for the “hardtop” text. A nice slab serif — a little wide, a little thin, not too bold, but with enough presence. And that “R” is perfection. If I can find some time, I’ll have to re-create the font from this photo.