That’s a circa-1970 poster advertising flying TWA to New York and…no. I’m not criticizing it as a work of art, although it’s not to my taste. It has some formal qualities that are worthy of note and the fact that I don’t like them doesn’t change that. What it doesn’t have is any understanding of the city. Going clockwise, starting at “FLY TWA”:
- There is no connection between blackletter typefaces and NYC, other than the New York Times using “Engravers Old English BT” for its logo.
- I have no objection to using the Statue of Liberty as a symbol of the city, but her face is less recognizable than her pose.
- Most natives would take a moment to recognize the monument from Columbus Circle taken out of context like this. I can’t imagine a tourist – then or now – saying “Oh yeah, I’ve got to go look at Columbus standing on his pole.”
- Similarly, the statue of Prometheus from Rockefeller Center is pretty obscure. The Library of Congress web page for this poster names everything else, suggesting that whoever wrote the copy didn’t know what this was.
- The Brooklyn Bridge and Empire State Building are, of course, fine, but this suggests that you can somehow get that view and you can’t without a telephoto lens.
- Why is there a tugboat in front of St. Patrick’s? Has Fifth Avenue flooded?
- The Statue of Washington in front of Federal Hall is slightly more recognizable than the other two, but it’s still amazingly obscure for a travel poster.