The Washington Post

Some D.C. street signs are kind of a mess

Ick! (Andrew Wiseman/New Columbia Heights)

Last month, I took note of the city’s new mixed-cased street signs. Love ’em or hate ’em, they’re here to stay, thanks to new federal regulations.

But there’s been some hiccups in implementing the new design standard across the city, I’ve noticed. Font sizes differ on occasion, and capitalization of the street and quadrant legends has been inconsistent — sometimes “ST” and “NW,” sometimes “St” and “Nw.”

Andrew Wiseman, proprietor of the New Columbia Heights blog, has noticed, too, and today he identifies a couple of egregious examples — such as the New Hampshire Avenue NW sign above that seems to use different fonts for the “New” and the “Hampshire.”

Without getting into technical minutiae about x-heights and font weights and majuscules and condensed faces, let’s just say that, to font geeks like Andrew and me, it burns the retinas.

John Lisle, a spokesman for the D.C. transportation department, said officials are looking into it.

I, for one, don’t mean to cast aspersions on the hard workers at the DDOT sign shop, but it looks like a little more training and a little more quality control would keep the District’s streetscape looking sharp and keep us design nerds from gouging our eyes out.

UPDATE, 2/10: The ugly signs will be fixed, DDOT reports.

Mike DeBonis covers Congress and national politics for The Washington Post. He previously covered D.C. politics and government from 2007 to 2015.


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