First introduced by the historic American Type Founders Company (ATF) in 1906, Railroad Gothic was the quintessential typographic expression of turn-of-the-century industrial spirit—bold and brash in tone, and a little rough around the edges. Well suited to broadcasting important news through headlines, Railroad Gothic became an instant hit with American printers upon its introduction. Its condensed but robust forms undoubtedly provided inspiration for many grotesque sans that followed.
ATF offered a number of sizes of Railroad Gothic as metal type, with some incredibly inconsistent variation among cuts. In creating a new take on a familiar face, Mark van Bronkhorst studied the varied characteristics inherent in the different sizes. He made careful aesthetic decisions in order to retain the quirky personality of the design, while regularizing the family for a more consistent feel and improved usability. Earmark features such as the spurred ‘G’ and curled leg of the ‘R’ were retained, joining with the exaggerated forms of the figures and glyphs such as ‘&’ and ‘?’ to lend warmth and flavor.
The new ATF Railroad Gothic is a measured, harmonious interpretation of the original, and has been extended to a family of five weights—Regular, Medium, Bold, Heavy, and Black—featuring a full Latin character set. At the heavy end of the spectrum, forms take on an almost humanist air; the blackest weights were carefully designed to keep counters as open as possible for the sake of legibility.
This contemporary rendition of an American classic was crafted for display use—set it big, and experiment with tight letterspacing and negative leading for added emphasis.
As with all Webtype offerings, ATF Railroad Gothic may be tested for free for up to 30 days.