Recently, a passenger in our car commented about a new sign in Irving Park where Lawndale, Battleground, and Westover Terrace converge. Do you notice anything different about this sign? Well, if you are a typography aficionado, you will notice the font right away. Traditionally, the Federal Highway Administrations fonts have been sans-serif (see here). The US Federal Government and Pentagon have been in the business of highway fonts since the early 1940's. Lately, serifs, or the "semi-structural details on the ends of some of the strokes that make up letters and symbols" have been creeping into road signs. Historically, consensus has been that plainer fonts are easier to read, especially when zooming down the highway. Personally, we did find the "new and improved" font in the sign above a little harder to read. How about you?
There are lots of websites where you can identify fonts, if you like the "name that font" game. When we went to identafont, the font above looks like impressum. If you're loving this font talk, likely you've seen the 2007 movie, entitled, HELVETICA.