The Elevator Lobby Font Face Mystery

This past October, I started working in one of those skyscraper buildings in downtown Chicago. As you might guess, there are ELEVATORS in this building. Elevators which I actually RIDE on.

Elevator Lobby

See the bands of blue above each elevator? That’s where it indicates what floor the elevator serves.

If you closely scrutinize the top picture, you may notice the band above the furthest elevator to the left is white, not blue.

Let’s take a closer look.


What the?!! What happened? What is happening? What’s going to happen?

Calm down. I’ll explain. A month or so some work was done on that elevator. I have no idea what kind of work was done. What do I look like? Some working-on-an-elevator-expert kind of person?

The important thing is that after they were done with the elevator, it did not look like the others.

My guess is that this is what all the elevators looked like at some time. For the recent repairs, the workers probably had to remove the sleek blue, ultra-modern “4-16”, revealing the previous incarnation of the sign.

The font face looks to be Art Deco. This is not really important to the story, but how pretty is this image search result for “art deco font” from Google?

So, Art Deco was a style originating in the 1920’s. There’s no way this backlit sign is from the 1920’s, right? Hmm. According to its Wikipedia page, Art Deco had a revival in graphic design in the 1980’s. AH HA. That sounds about right.

But wait! My building has a Wikipedia page, too! According to the page, it was built in 1990. Could this backlit Art Deco elevator lobby sign be from the building’s original construction? Sure, why the hell not?

Should I be embarrassed by a building that used an Art Deco font face when everyone else was probably leaving it behind, along with their parachute pants, Duran Duran haircuts and Bret Easton Ellis novels?

I honestly don’t know, but I will be embarrassed if you want me to be.

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