Prior to my most recent visit to the Illinois Railway Museum, a graphic designer friend asked me to make an inventory of the most compelling letterforms that I could find. The museum is known for its extensive collection of bus and rail stock dating back to the mid-19th century, but it also functions as a de facto sign museum. Many different categories of signage are represented here, including neon, enamel, plastic, button copy, metal relief, stone relief, and hand-painted. Zooming in on this wide array of signage acts as a modest transit-related typography source book.
With the James R. Thompson Center set to go on sale in the next two years, and the National Trust for Historic Preservation placing the building on its 11 most endangered list, I thought now would be a good time to post the images I’ve made of the building so far. Here’s hoping that Helmut Jahn’s monument to transparent governance in the city that works is not remodeled into unrecognizable oblivion.