Penn Station Sign

New York, NY

Located in the Hilton Passageway on Level A of Penn Station in New York City, is a roughly 117-year-old hand-painted wayfinding sign, designed for the Interborough Rapid Transit (IRT) Subway. In the mid-to-late 60s, the station underwent a large-scale renovation to make the station a more accessible throughway for commuters and pedestrians. Part of this included adding fluorescent lighting; however, one of these lights was installed on top of the historic sign. Fortunately, train enthusiasts were paying attention to this sign, fearing that it would be removed or replaced entirely. A guide leading a tour of old Penn Station was delighted to find that this sign, which he thought was gone for good was restored and conserved with a protective glass cover, and the light fixture was removed.

EverGreene was contracted on behalf of Amtrak to document and assess the existing conditions of this historic sign by using an SLR camera. The onsite assessment was completed in March 2021, and it is unclear the extent of repairs this sign has endured over the years; however, it is clear that it has remained unmaintained or modified since at least the 80s. Historic paint layers and glazed ceramic tile substrates were surveyed, as well as design elements of the sign including, spacing, typeface, color, and borders to create accurate reproduction. Cleaning tests were performed on-site to determine the best cleaning and stabilization methods.

Our conservators presume that the chosen color scheme was in honor of the New York Rangers, the local hockey team which plays nearby at Madison Square Gardens. In order to identify the correct color for restoring the Penn Station Sign, our conservators researched color schemes and paint manufacturers of Rangers branded signs and apparel.