A Brief History of The New York Times Logo—for Normal People

Front Page of the First Edition of The New York Times

In his “Times Insider” column, Times historian David Dunlap runs through the long history of the news organization’s venerable nameplate logotype. He traces its subtle but, to many of its devoted readers, meaningful transformations over the years: key redrawings of its letterforms, the shocking removal of a once grammatically mandatory hyphen, and the summary dismissal of a traditional period at the end of the name which contemporary readers may be surprised to learn survived as late as the year “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” was released.

Dunlap’s writing for “Times Insider” could be safely categorized as “inside baseball” for enthusiasts of the Gray Lady, but this particular column is actually a great example of how good writing can make design palatable for a general audience. Dunlap’s narrative may seem esoteric—it starts with the birth of blackletter style calligraphy in the 7th Century—but it takes care to explain the historical context of this particular specimen of design in a human, relatable way. It also demystifies the arcane perception of this craft by featuring illuminating quotes from some of the stewards of the Times brand. In short, it was written for normals. I wish there were more writing about design like this in The New York Times—and elsewhere.

Read the full article at nytimes.com.