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If New York City Neighborhoods Had Logos

Chris Dickman Wed, 02/26/2014 - 04:58

Countries have them. Cities have them. So why shouldn't neighborhoods have their own logos? If so, what should such logos look like? Well, as with any logo, they should express the essence, the brand identity, of the neighborhood, drawing on its history and what currently sets it apart to express the deep emotional attachment that residents have with their neighborhoods. And this attachment extends to those who have never visited a famous neighborhood but dream of doing so.

Take Greenwich Village in New York City, for example. Long known as an artistic and counter-culture hotspot, this historic district, so popular with tourists, is under increasing pressure from spiraling housing costs that have led to an exodus of much of the traditional social strata that gave it its unique character. There's nothing new about gentrification, with the demolition of entire neighborhoods in the Paris of Napoleon III making possible the creation of blocks of shining stone houses for the happy few of the era. What's happening in the Village is just as evident in San Francisco, where a generation of affluent young tech workers is rapidly changing the face of large areas of the city. And many would say, not for the better.

New York-based graphic designer James Campbell Taylor recently reflected on the changing nature of his adopted city, expressed as a series of logos that comment on the relentless expansion of global corporations to the point where they increasingly erase the unique nature of the neighborhoods in which they spring up, like mushrooms after a heavy rain. Appropriately entitled City in Chains, the series reflects the grim reality that, according to the Center for an Urban Future's State of the Chains, 2013 report, New York City is host to 515 Dunkin Donuts, 467 Subways, 283 Starbucks and 240 McDonalds. Burp. Can you spot the corporation within each logo?

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