A Historic Seattle Font

Inspiration

If you ever get the chance to spend time in Downtown Seattle, at the corner of S. Jackson Street and 4th Avenue S. in the Pioneer Square neighborhood, look for this beautiful brick building—Union Station. Built between 1910-1911, Union Station served the Union Pacific Railroad but shut down passenger service some 50 years after opening. It remained largely abandoned until Paul Allen financed its major restoration in 2000 and received a National Historic Preservation Award. Today it serves as the Seattle Department Transportation campus and is open to the public for use.

On the south end of the interior, look up and you will see this beautiful hand-painted sign above the doors seen below. I am not sure when the sign first was installed, but I found it an excellent starting place to build a digital display font.

The Process

After snapping a clean photo, I brought the sign image into photoshop and used a perspective warp to align the letter-shapes to a baseline grid. Next, I pulled these images into illustrator and began recreating the letters. Once I completed the 7 available letters in the sign, I began working in the Glyphs App, a specialized program for creating vector fonts.

In Glyphs, I broke apart the letters into their respective parts: vertical strokes, horizontal strokes, round strokes, diagonal strokes, serifs, etc… At that point, I focused on shaping a few distinct characters that best represented its tone/look: R J Q E T S G. After getting the look and feel of these few letters just right, I proceeded to design out the entire alphabet (upper & lowercase), numerals, punctuation, special symbols, and marks for latin diacritic characters.

Testing The Font

I completed the entire character set and now am working to set the spacing of the letters. The left and right side bearings are optically spaced using key character sequences and distinctive words. The final font is still being fully tested and I am working on sample sheets to show this unique font in practical examples. If you are interested in licensing this font, please contact me directly.