This residential block will appear quite plain to the casual observer. It offers up the usual array of deli's and dry cleaners, but nothing of particular note worth going out of one's way. For a major two-way thoroughfare it's a rather sleepy block; sure you have the M72 bustling back and forth, but there didn't seem to be a great deal of foot traffic when I walked by. The west end of 72nd Street, over by Broadway is far more bustling.
The absence of much retail presence is more than made up for by the architectural detailing on the old buildings. The little bits of character offered up here include beautiful ironwork fire escapes hanging off great stone elements, and tiles which have been painted over so many times as to make one wonder if it even represents the original shape.
Other than that, though, the street remains quiet...until you get to the end. That's where you'll likely see me (or some other designer, with similar ideals to mine) cursing out the new Duane Read location...complete with it's new, inexplicable logo. (Design geek rant ahead)
Now, I have no major qualms with Duane Reade. Sure, they probably aren't the most-loved business around. But when I need Advil, pencils and a 99 cent can of fruit juice (for entirely separate reasons), I can rest assured I'm only a few blocks away from fulfilling those needs, regardless of the time of day. I think just about everyone can get on the same page about DR being a fairly mediocre shopping experience. The harsh (often dirty) environment, the ugly (old) logo, the inattentive staff- they all add up to your typical Duane Reade experience. And that's fine. We've come to expect it, we live in New York. But now they go and throw us a curve ball like this.
This is not a defense of the old logo, and I also don't expect Duane Reade to push the boundaries of modern identity design and come up with something that makes us rethink our life direction. In fact, I applaud their decision to freshen up their image. But this damn thing is a mess. This mixture of sans and serif faces, complete with upper and lowercase confusion all wrapped up in a nice cliché circle create for a critics dream.
Let's start with the "DR" mark. Two capital letters in a circle. Fine. It's nothing new, but it normally wont offend anyone. Except what the hell is with how the "D" intersects with the circle? Of ALL the ways one could choose the execute that, they pick the one that creates a plethora of uncomfortable angles and flat edges. To make matters worse, the leg of the R is free to escape the tyranny of said circle. Why? Don't even get me started with the thicks and thins of all the lines in the mark. It's so wishy-washy.
Then, of course, we have the written out "Duane Reade" text, which is stylized as one word (no spaces) with DUANE in all sans caps and reade all serif lowercase. It's a messy execution simply to remove a space, but OK, I'll bite. Except for one issue: why do they allow the "R" in the previously-mentioned logo mark exist as uppercase, while in the written out logo, the word is rendered in lower? No clue.
All that being said, the store itself was quite nice. Roomy layout, well-stocked, clean, and a great pharmacy section near the front.
I like new things, I really do. But this is a tad much to handle. Especially on a street with such great old stuff to offer. Oh well.
Seems like I may have started something here. The Duane Reade logo re-design has been picked up by several sources in the past week: