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a thesis project: defining the "authenticity" of MacDougal Street through typography
MacDougal Street Project
Pratt Institute / Spring 2012
defining the “authenticity” of MacDougal Street (Greenwich Village) through typography

A street southwest of Washington Square Park and in the heart of “The Village,” MacDougal Street holds special qualities as a gathering spot for artists, writers, and the theater. There are little traces and hints throughout the street that show the history of bohemian culture. This preservation of the “past” gives the street its unique character and the locals pride and ownership. When well researched and understood by the graphic designer, these authentic values become marketable assets for promoting the locality and the culture, with a definite distinction from other merely “trendy” spots.

I explored MacDougal Street around once a week for a couple months and documented all of my experiences, feelings, and impressions about the place. Based on my documentation and research on the street and neighborhood, I created visual pieces of typography that expressed the local character of the street and showed respect for the history and culture.
signage sketch
Next, I focused on the literary bohemian culture of MacDougal Street, especially The Beat Generation (American post-World War II writers and their writings). Choosing eight prominent literary figures each with a different personality that altogether defines the ambience of MacDougal Street, I created typographic compositions to express each artist's authenticity, in terms of both the literature and the artists themselves. The literary contents are all extracts from the artists' published poetry or novels. All of the lettering has been done by hand.
Maxwell Bodenheim (1892-1954)
Ray Bremser (1934-1998)
Gregory Corso (1930-2001)
Allen Ginsberg (1926-1997)
Joe Gould (1889-1957)
Jack Kerouac (1922-1969)
Alfred Kreymborg (1883-1966)
Eugene O'Neill (1888-1953)
I then applied these compositions to a map. Each composition is placed where the artist used to work, participate in readings, and hang out with other artists. Some of the key places, such as the Minetta Tavern and the Gaslight Cafe still exist!
Pratt Show display