by Kevin Walsh

AVENUE of the Finest runs for one block between Madison and Pearl Streets along Murray Bergtraum High School and a huge Verizon tower that has been described as NYC’s ugliest building, though I’ve seen way, way worse. It’s closed off by the NYPD as it is close to NYPD headquarters to the rear of the Municipal Building northeast of City Hall. Indeed “the Finest” has been a nickname affixed to the NYPD for several decades, matching “The Bravest” for the FDNY and “the Strongest” for DSNY.

I have no problems whatsoever with the name, but I do have one with what the sign shop at the Department of Transportation has done to it. While “Finest” is obviously the key word in the name of the street, notice how “Avenue of the” is rendered in large letters on the first line with “Finest” much smaller on the second line.

This, no doubt, is due to either a template or a directive at the sign shop as the vast majority of New York City streets feature the key word first, and “Avenue” or “Street” second and thus, the street name is in large letters on the first line and “Avenue” or “Street” in a smaller point size on the second. There are, of course, exceptions.

The most obvious of these is “Avenue of the Americas” and indeed, some of the signs show the “Avenue of the” large on top with “Americas” smaller on the second line. As a typographer for much of my career this drives me absolutely nuts, but apparently at the sign shop, the rules is the rules, and the first line is bigger than the second. (However, many signs on 6th Avenue show “America” on the second line in larger type, as it should be.)

In Longwood, Bronx there’s a street called “Avenue St. John.” There, the DOT has it correct with the name spelled out on one line, with everything the same size.

I have to confess. Working in the sign shops for the Department of Transportation or the Metropolitan Transit Authority would be a dream job for me and I could certainly fix the above issue if I get the chance.

Anyone reading who is employed in the sign shop? Weigh in on this, anonymously if you prefer.

As always, “comment…as you see fit.” I earn a small payment when you click on any ad on the site.



Sunnysider May 18, 2022 - 11:55 pm

It does look pretty stupid with “finest” written so small.

chris May 19, 2022 - 2:05 pm

That is just plain ignorant.I dont believe someone put that sign together by accident.
That was deliberate by someone who hates policemen

Kevin Walsh May 19, 2022 - 3:38 pm

No. I don’t think so. It’s that they follow the spec “out the window” as they say in the print biz.

redstaterefugee May 20, 2022 - 10:27 am

Ah, no…If someone who had real authority, & really cared would take charge then “out the window” would go out the window, & the font sizes could be reversed to “Avenue of ” on top & “THE FINEST” at the bottom which would reflect the admiration & respect NYPD deserves.

Sunnysider May 20, 2022 - 6:52 pm

Both could be true.

Peter May 21, 2022 - 10:45 am

As the old saying goes, never attribute to malice what can be adequately explained by stupidity.


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