Differing fonts on the road

WARNING: Do not try this in your car! I took a picture of these two nearly-adjacent gantries while driving. But there’s a difference between them (other than the number of miles stated).


A gantry showing LEFT EXIT 1B toward US-41 South and Waukegan in 1+1/2 miles, and Exit 1A toward Russell Road in 1 mile. (This gantry is in Wisconsin.)


A gantry showing Exit 1A to Russell Road and Lake County Road A1, as well as a Left Exit 1B to US-41 South and Waukegan in 1/4 mile. (This gantry is in Illinois.)


The two pictures have different fonts on them. The former picture, in Wisconsin, uses the “Highway Gothic” font, which I used on “Think of it as…” a long time ago in my NON-artist rendition of a sign. In fact, since that type of road sign has become part of my schtick in my signature line of the blog, this will take the place of the text!

However, the latter sign, in Illinois, has the Clearview font. Earlier this year, it was announced that Highway Gothic will revert to the official US road sign font. Before that, Clearview was the official font for a relatively brief time, despite the fact that many of the signs remained in Highway Gothic. (Check out the article and comments thereof here.)

I have no strong feelings in the matter since I have strong eyesight, but am much more used to Highway Gothic, which is used in Wisconsin and Nebraska and Minnesota. I pay attention to details, however, which led to a few times where I noticed the font differences. Let me give a few examples, other than the one shown in the two pictures above.

When I drove back from Lincoln to Menomonie in March, I noticed that parts of the Iowa Interstate system had signs in Clearview (e.g. on Interstate 80 from Council Bluffs to Des Moines), AND signs in Highway Gothic (e.g. on Interstate 35 from Des Moines to the Minnesota border).

In fact, on US-53 near Eau Claire, there are signs that point toward Hastings Way. One of them is in Highway Gothic, but the one closest to the traffic signal is then in Clearview. It is funny how you see both fonts in the same community!

I have always been fascinated by fonts, and abused them heavily in elementary and early middle-school, rather than sticking to tried-and-true fonts like Arial, Helvetica, or Times New Roman (according to the operating system with which I was word-processing).

I’m going to cut this post short and do another post, which is a better prequel, on my next posting day regarding that last miniparagraph, because it’s fun to cut papers into the least-publishable units! In this way, I also will not need a “tl;dr” summary!


Highway Gothic

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