Posters Down Under

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If it seems like the New York subways are more inundated with advertising than ever before, it is because the NYC transit system has been adding new sites for ads, including the interior of subway tunnels. Back in the late 1940s and early ’50s, designers like Paul Rand (top and below bottom) and Erik Nitsche (below) were commissioned to make posters that sold advertising space. Today, space is a hot commodity.

The 42nd Street–Times Square shuttle line was the first to use tunnel ads, which look like jumpy 15-second TV ads.

“The tunnel advertising is part of an ambitious Metropolitan Transportation Authority plan to convert much of its real estate into advertising space,” reported The New York Times in 2008. “In addition to the tunnel ads, it will sell space on turnstiles, digital screens inside stations, projections against subway station walls, and panels on the outside of subway cars.”

All this for just $2.25 a ride too.

.For more Steven Heller, check out Graphic Design Time Line: A Century of Design Milestones—one of the many Heller titles available at