How to say “you are here” in really big letters
For years, if you’ve ever driven or walked down Washington Street in Poughkeepsie, New York, you would see an unremarkable and rusted bridge trestle, painted with words long distressed by time and barely still visible that once identified a now-defunct train line. After 2009, you might have noticed people walking across it, protected by a four-foot safety fencing. Nothing much interesting or special, just an overpass—at least at first glance.
And that was the problem, because this is no ordinary bridge. That trestle is a portion of the Walkway Over the Hudson State Historic Park, the former Poughkeepsie Railroad Bridge converted to the longest pedestrian bridge in the world.
In 2014, Walkway Over the Hudson determined to create a better connection of people to that place—a stronger sense of “you are here.” They asked us, in collaboration with architects, landscape designers, sign makers and the NYS Bridge Authority, to transform a common-looking space into an uncommonly beautiful entryway into the park.
Our role was to brand the bridge visually while maintaining the essential character of place.
Our goal in that was to honor the history of the railroad and at the same time call attention to its new use as a public park. So we designed and built monumental signs—thirty feet long, 1200 lbs of polished aluminum, and mounted to the trestle. The gleaming new signs contrast against the weathered steel of the bridge, and at night, LED lights flood the trestle face, using the old surface as backdrop to the modern sign.
The result: a stronger connection of community and place.