If you found yourself in the New York City subway in the 1960s, you were probably lost. Signs didn’t help you find your way, standards didn’t exist, even handmade lettering was common. Mass confusion was the status quo.
In 1970, the Standards Manual changed everything. The New York City Transit Authority hired Massimo Vignelli and Bob Noorda of the design firm Unimark International to design a signage and wayfinding system that would solve the problem underground. The work they delivered, the 1970 New York City Transit Authority Graphic Standards Manual, succeeded in that goal and, perhaps unintentionally, the Standards Manual became one of the world’s classic examples of modern design.
You can check out all the scanned pages here or maybe you were lucky to support the recent Kickstarter that aims to reprint the original Standards Manual.