October 12, 2012

Paul Shaw’s Walking Type Tour highlights #sta_chicago #typeinthecity #typography

On Wednesday, I attended a wonderful walking typography tour with Paul Shaw, organized by STA Chicago and AIGA Chicago.

I’ve been blogging found typography in my West Loop neighborhood, so I was eager to see what Chicago’s Magnificent Mile and Loop had to offer. Two-and-half hours later, my freezing fingers had documented 20 typographic spots—and Paul was still going strong at the Chicago Cultural Center when I had to head home (Little One was waiting for his dinner).

Paul Shaw has a mind-boggling knowledge of typography and thoroughly explained each type specimen, with humorous anecdotes along the way. He reminded us that much of what we saw was not typography, but in fact lettering.

Downtown Chicago lettering highlights

  1. Clarendon-style lettering on a water fountain at our starting point, the Historic Water Tower.
  2. Versals in the uncial form on the downtown Loyola University building. IWAC stands for Illinois Women’s Athletic Club, a social, athletic and residential club in the ’20s-’30s.
  3. Uncials on the Fourth Presbyterian Church entryway. Paul explained that the lettering was designed to fit the space.
  4. Slab serif cast letters on the Chicago Water Works building. Paul pointed out that there was no period after the title (the grammatical style during that period).
  5. Helios relief on the former McGraw-Hill Building facade. Another example of lettering created to fit the space.
  6. Paul doing a stone rubbing of textura blackletter lettering on the Tribune Tower.
  7. The quirky sans/serif-combination lettering on the Old Republic Building. We also peeked inside the lobby to see a fabulous ’20s-’30s era mailbox.
  8. Art deco lettering on the Carbide and Carbon Building (now the Hard Rock Hotel). Paul pointed out the thick and thin lettering with echoes of Florentine Sans serif.
  9. Dome of the Chicago Cultural Center (I missed the explanation because I had to leave!)

Thank you Paul, for an amazing tour of Chicago typography! 

If you are a fellow type geek, check out Paul Shaw’s website, which includes info for his urban lettering walks. Sign me up for the Italy tour next year!

See more photos from the tour on my blog Typography in the City.