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Dear RIOC: Here Is What A Sign Looks Like Part 2

Peter McCarthy
NYC Subway Roosevelt Island Locator Map
NYC Subway Roosevelt Island Locator Map

It wasn't a banner week for RIOC sign-wise, excuse the pun. "Yes, the RI logo is ugly," wrote one longtime resident, agreeing with our thoughtful assessment of the RI mockup thing lugged around town on Tuesday. "Uglier than ugly," another topped him, but the worst insult of the week was handed RIOC by its sister agency, the MTA.

As I imagine most of us do, I grin and bear it when using our ultra filthy and in need of repair subway station. So, the MTA locator map may have been there for a while, but head down, determined not to run into a millennial on cruise control while dazzled by a smartphone  and muttering to my wife about conditions, I may have missed it.

But there it was, an actual, reliable locator map just above the final set of stairs to the boarding platform.

Now, let me say this about that, as the renowned American poet Richard Nixon used to say, it's one thing to put up a singularly unattractive big red RI sign.

To be bested by the MTA should send you scurrying to God, pleading to understand why you were born so clueless.

I know, I know, you're thinking, "Hey, the subway's been around for over a hundred years. They had time to work this difficult task out."

But no, here you are wrong. The subway only arrived at our remote outpost a little over twenty-five years ago, making it RIOC's younger State sibling.

On the other hand, as some recall, RIOC used to print and distribute maps at the Tram Plaza, way back when, but then there was the East River Apocalypse, also known as the Jerry Blue Era or The Three Year War in history books.

The Fiefdom known as the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation separated from the primary East River landmass - well, rockmass is more like it - in that cataclysm and has not built a sturdy bridge to rejoin the community since.

About the MTA Locator Map

We are offering this information as a helpful reference. Maybe, the RIOC braintrust can ring up their underground transportation counterparts and ask for a piece of the magic.

The NYC Subway locator map is not perfect, mind you. It includes a number of important local icons, like Blackwell House, Chapel of the Good Shepherd and, sadly, PS/IS 217.

But while it includes the Rivercross Lawn, currently upgraded with Fall for Art murals, it mysteriously misses the Meditation Steps. What do you make of that?

In Contrast

Reporting from a distant planet, the Main Street WIRE sums up last week's state of the art in Roosevelt Island signage thus:

"The installation is part of a larger effort by the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation (RIOC) and developer Hudson/Related to improve wayfinding on the Island, and ultimately improve commercial retail outcomes. The other steps include kiosks with maps, and directional signs. Hudson/Related partnered with design consulting group Calori & Vanden-Eynden to create the design."

I would not sit on that one too long.

First of all, the logo idea was presented to the RIOC just nine short months ago, in January. It took that long to get a mockup put together. 

Just to dazzle, Calori & Vanden-Eynden daringly "created" the design using Helvetica fonts, the most ubiquitous of typefaces after Arial.

One can only hope they didn't wear themselves out in the amount of time that it takes a human Mom to produce one of nature's most majestic living things.

If you're brave, you can try to calculate how long residents and lost tourists will need to wait for signs with the simplest directions. 

I am not brave. My thinking is RIOC ought to fire up those landlines and talk to the MTA about their brilliant idea: Wow! Signs that direct arriving visitors to their locations!


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