On Board With Design

The story of passenger transportation in the mid-20th century is one of shifting modes, new technologies, and intense innovation. New corporate identities, created by some of the leading designers of the day,  provided a visible representation of the continually-evolving modernity of passenger transportation in the jet age.
Designers influenced countless items distributed by transportation companies through thousands of visual touchpoints: coffee canisters, matchbooks, textiles, and the design of airport customer facilities. The modern design that they employed represented safety, reliability, efficiency, a comfortable passenger experience, and the promise of excitement and glamour surrounding travel.

This exhibition draws from examples in the Northwestern University Transportation Library’s special and circulating collections to highlight examples of branding and graphic design in the form of passenger ephemera such as menus, timetables, and ticket envelopes, as well as the annual reports that were published for investors and were equally representative, though less publicly visible, examples of design work. We hope that we will open new avenues of discovery and exploration for our readers, while at the same time highlighting the contributions of some of our generous donors, whose collections are featured in the exhibit. Please see the Additional Reading page for resources for additional research.

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New Haven Railroad logo

New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad

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More Information

Items in the exhibit are housed at Northwestern University’s Transportation Library. Email transportationlibrary@northwestern.edu with questions, or to schedule an appointment.