Even for the most seasoned New Yorker, navigating an unfamiliar part of the city can seem more like walking through a labyrinth!

With this in mind, the New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) commissioned a consortium of designers – PentaCityGroup – to initiate a new program of city maps.

The result is WalkNYC, a series of kiosks located near subway stations, business districts and other high-traffic pedestrian areas encouraging the public to walk, cycle, or use public transportation. The maps also feature all local streets, major landmarks and destinations, as well as bike lanes.

The project is currently in its initial phase but PentaCityGroup continues to work with DOT on implementing the next which will expand the project into additional neighbourhoods and districts, as well as print, mobile, and digital media applications.

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The kiosks present two maps, one of local streets and the other of the area’s location in relation to a larger section of the city.

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The signs are designed to guide users to public transit and major landmarks. The orientation of the WalkNYC maps uses “heads-up mapping,” in which north, south, east or west is rotated to correspond with the direction the user is facing.

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The signs provide an estimate of walking time to points in the neighborhood.

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Pentagram designed a unique system of icons for the maps, including the drawings of the landmark buildings. The graphics use a custom version of Helvetica created by Monotype for the program. Helvetica was chosen to complement the iconic graphic language of the New York City subway system, originally developed by Massimo Vignelli and Robert Noorda at Unimark.

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WalkNYC’s customized version, Helvetica DOT, makes all of the font’s square dots round, giving the program its own unique look.

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