ATF Railroad Gothic
First introduced by the American Type Founders Company in 1906, Railroad Gothic was the quintessential typographic expression of turn-of-the-century industrial spirit—bold and brash in tone, and a little rough around the edges. A favorite for the plain speak of big headlines, Railroad Gothic quickly gained popularity among printers. Its condensed but robust forms were likely a source of inspiration for later families of industrial sans serifs.
The design feels like a cleaned-up version of some earlier Victorian gothics, notable for their uneven proportions and awkward letterforms. ATF offered a number of sizes of Railroad Gothic as metal type, with cuts varying in design considerably from size to size. Creating this new digital version involved interpreting the characteristics of different sizes and making some aesthetic choices: where to retain the design’s familiar unstudied gawkiness, and where to make improvements.
The new ATF® Railroad Gothic features a measured, harmonious interpretation of the original, and has been extended with four new weights (each bolder than the last). The heaviest weights are carefully designed to keep counters open, no matter how dense the overall effect may be, maintaining legibility at any display size. This contemporary rendition of a historic American design boasts a full Latin character set, including glyphs undreamed-of in the heyday of railroads.
American Type Founders, 1906
Mark van Bronkhorst, Luis Batlle, Igino Marini, & Ben Kiel, 2016