A Type of STL Tour

| By: Jon Simons
Jon Simons

Type of STL is a curated archive of the unique hand-painted signage around St. Louis, Missouri. I have chosen to fuse a few passions together: cycling, photography and design. I tour around on my bike and capture my city through a lens that encourages exploring, environmental appreciation and historical awareness. (Honestly, the short breaks I take on my bike to snap a photo is a nice breather.)

In terms of inspiration, I feel it’s important that designers use the history of their local culture to their advantage. These signs I’ve archived in Type of STL  are real-world solutions that designers can learn from. I have always been interested in showing how others use their vernacular skill-set to make a less predictable form of design.

There is incredible value in the historic architecture of St. Louis and the way that the hand-painted signs of the past reflect the ways of life, entertainment and commerce. Whether it’s a used tire shop in Mid-Town Alley or a pharmacy in Benton Park, the hand-painted sign is a landmark of our fair city and tells a story independent of the changing aesthetics of St. Louis. These hand-painted signs cached in Type of STL are gems that give us a hint into our collective past and a culture of expression through design.

Here is a little tour of the archive:

End Eminent Domain Abuse

I’m still confused about this double negative that everyone can see from the highway by Lafayette Square: it’s telling us to STOP ending eminent domain abuse, when it’s meant to tell us to END eminent domain abuse. It uses both upper- and lower-case letters—condensed and regular. From how the type is laid out, the sign looks like it was technically correct at one point, but someone wanted to cram in the words End and Abuse at the last minute. Even though the sign’s graphically wrong, the common skill of the sign painter represents individuality of these buildings that the owner wants to save.

Here is a little background on the signage.



We all see these guys around town with the the big Anchor logo hand painted on the side and hitch. By the aging of the paint on these signs, I know this classic handmade script has and will endure time both graphically and physically. I also love that each one of Anchor’s trucks are slightly unique due to the logo being hand painted.

Similar Typefaces can be found here.


Crunden Martin MFG. CO.

When St. Louis was a manufacturing powerhouse, these folks made a variety of metal goods on Chouteau’s Landing. This mix of a Sans Serif and a Slab Serif typeface used on the skybridge displays the strength of the metal goods they produced. The font is designed using mechanic and geometric style. The swash on the leg of the R makes it pretty unique to this typeface. These buildings may come down soon due to a fire and a missing roof, so make sure you check it out before it’s gone. Read about the history and photos of Cruden Martin MFG. CO.

Similar Typefaces can be found here (United Sans Bold)



I found this little sign while biking over on the north side of the city. (There are so many amazing signs north of downtown.) The individuality of the sign shows how much pride the owner has for this steel business.

Similar Typefaces can be found here, here and here.


Be sure to do your part and take some photos around town when you see hand-painted signs.
Hash tag them with #typeofstl so I can get them into the Type of STL archive!

Interested in some more type? Check these sites out as well: