Class Report

Making Places - A Bike Tour of Typography and Vintage Signs in D.C.

Teacher: David Ramos
Photos: Amira Mintz-Morgenthau and Diana Sanchez
Location: Typecase Industries, places with signs
Date: Sept. 20, 2014

See more photos of this class on Flickr!

Signs tell us how neighborhoods have changed, and how the messages and materials for making signs have evolved and even looped back on themselves. On this lettering, typography, and design tour, students biked past vintage signs and new creations in downtown, rowhouse neighborhoods, and centers of commerce along streetcar lines new and old. For a look at type on paper, they visited Typecase Industries and its working letterpress shop.

Blagden Alley NW. Gibbs Connors, a Philadelphia-based signpainter, created the signage for La Colombe.


Students examine cases of wood type at Typecase Industries’ print shop.


Emily, Alessandra, and Stephanie, who run Typecase Industries, talk about the studio’s letterpress work.


Typecase Industries set up a letterpress poster for the KCDC tour and let students make their own prints. Diana Sanchez pulls a print of a poster on the studio’s proofing press.


Crown Pawnbrokers, on 14th St. NW, is marked by a mid-century painted sign and by a cluster of three golden balls, a traditional symbol of a pawn shop that dates back to the middle ages.