Berlin’s Bridge Typography

According to our highly unscientific study of Google Maps, there are a lot of bridges in Berlin. The ‘List of Bridges in Berlin’ page at the ever-reputable Wikipedia puts the number somewhere around 2100. We’ll take their word for it; we’re not about to count them ourselves. Of those bridges, some are used only by trains, and some are those curious structures which seem to exist solely to carry pipes over the river. Yet even if we count only the ones accessible by pedestrians and cars, our initial finding still stands: there are a lot of bridges in Berlin.

Most of those bridges have a name and, more importantly for us, that name almost always appears in physical form somewhere on the structure itself, making the bridges of Berlin a natural treasure trove not only for different typefaces but for different materials in which words can be rendered.

Indeed, the diversity of styles and materials found in Berlin’s bridge typography is vast. There are numerous recurring trends – bronze plaques with serif capitals were once very popular – and there are certain themes which allow us to link bridges from all over the city to a particular era of building. But there are also glorious one-offs and curiosities, hold-overs from previous ages and faithful reconstructions of past glories.

As we said at the beginning, there are a lot of bridges in Berlin and we haven’t been over all of them yet. But rest assured, we’re working on it. In the meantime, here’s a selection of some of the typographic delights we’ve discovered while crossing from one side to the other.

charlottenburg-150

This bridge, in Charlottenburg, celebrates not only the dates of its construction, destruction and reconstruction, but also how much the whole thing cost.

Moabit-42

There are a few bridges in town that forego the Umlaut. This is one of them.

Spandau-3

Even drainage canals need bridges. Similar examples of letters set within a metal frame (usually blue) can be seen all over town; this one is in Spandau.

gesundbrunnen-11

The only thing better than blackletter, is blackletter made from negative space.

Moabit-82.jpg

Another type style found on bridges throughout the city. This example probably dates to the late sixties / very early seventies.

Charlottenburg-109

Georg Wenzeslaus von Knobelsdorff was one of Friedrich II’s chief architects and was responsible for the Staatsoper and St Hedwig’s (among many other things).

Charlottenburg-165

An understated but not inelegant bridge marker, captured on one of the shortest and coldest days of the year.

Westend-30

The classical tendency of the type stands in odd contrast to the conspicuous modernism of the motorway.

Kreuzberg-46

Kreuzberg’s favourite place to hang out and drink beer on summer evenings.

If you don’t already, you should follow us at @Berlin_Type on Twitter, for your daily dose of typographic goodness from Berlin.

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3 thoughts on “Berlin’s Bridge Typography

  1. I enjoyed reading and staring at your photos. In my international travels, I make sure I take a picture of signs in words or pictures on it that gives information about something whether it be in a plaque, wood, and wrought iron, in this case.

    Like

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