Posted on Jan 16, 2013 in Berlin | 3 comments

On January 15, I stayed home to catch up on blogging. That is all I did all day. And I wrote this special-edition post which I had been planning to write:

As a graphic designer by profession, I can not help but look at type wherever I go. I have been meaning to do a special post just on Berlin subway station typography. This could be a topic for a design student’s thesis, all on its own, so I just want to give a few examples of the typographic variety you will find in the Berlin subway signage.

For further reading, however, you can take a look at the following links:

— A photoset on Flickr by Patrick Scholl that is more exhaustive than what I am showing here, and offers a pretty good selection of many Berlin subway stations.

— This typographer, Anton Koovit, has even designed a font based on the U 8 typography shown in the photos of Kottbusser Tor, Alexanderplatz (the one with the sickly green tiles), and Hermannplatz station signage.

— A related discussion of Berlin street signage on

— Another photoset on Flickr, this one by Kris Sowersby, with photos of Berlin street signs.

A general note on Berlin public transit: I like that you can always get some quick food and drink in Berlin, even on many subway platforms. There is enough people traffic here during each day that the food operators can survive in these artificially lit subway tunnels. I have been grateful several times when I was in a rush to be able to grab a coffee and pastry as a quick breakfast.

The opposite function is not as well served, however. There is a bit of a shortage of public bathrooms. The good thing is that when you find one, it’s usually clean because there is a “Toilettenfrau”, as the usually female attendant is called, who wipes the seat for you for a small fee and makes sure the toilets are clean and stocked with supplies. I have found prices for a loo visit as high as € 1.

Kottbusser Tor U-Bahn sign

Somebody has plastered stickers into the circular letterforms here — a graffiti-typographer!

Gneisenaustrasse U-Bahn sign

Another interesting font on this U-Bahn sign.

Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz U-Bahn sign

Rosa Luxemburg was a Marxist-Socialist-Communist in the early part of the 20th century who together with Karl Liebknecht organized an uprising by workers against the German government in 1919, shortly after the end of World War I, which they had also opposed. Both Luxemburg and Liebknecht were captured and killed, but are still commemorated in Germany, where pure socialism and Marxism are better understood than in North America, and are therefore not automatically looked upon as evil.

Alexanderplatz U-Bahn sign

These green tiles are all over the Alexanderplatz station. I am sure the unfortunate hospital-gown colouring is a remnant from communist East Germany See correction/comment below from Ingvar Jensen, thanks Ingvar!

Alexanderplatz U-Bahn sign

This station has several subway lines, and each line has their own typography at this station.

Deutsche Oper U-Bahn sign

This fin-de-siècle/art nouveau inspired font at the Deutsche Oper station is my absolute favourite.

Eberswalder Strasse U-Bahn sign

Eberswalder Strasse U-Bahn sign. This is my “home” station.

Wittenbergplatz U-Bahn sign

Wittenbergplatz U-Bahn sign. I hope to sketch this station before I leave, it’s a beautiful old subway station with a building above ground.

Hermannplatz U-Bahn sign

Hermannplatz U-Bahn sign.

Food stand in Hermannplatz subway station, Berlin

Food stand in Hermannplatz subway station, Berlin.

Food stand in subway station, Berlin

Food stand in a Berlin subway station whose name I can’t remember.