Hippo Manchester
August 11, 2005

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The art of signs to art and stuff

New signs would have visitors in mind but could help residents find themselves, too

By Will Stewart 

Manchester built it and they are coming. But can they — city visitors, that is — find their way around once they get here?

With the Verizon, a rejuvenated downtown and now a new minor-league ballpark, Manchester is quickly becoming the “destination city” city leaders and Chamber of Commerce officials proclaim it to be.

Visitors from across the state and region are coming to the Queen City for concerts, sporting events, restaurants and cultural events. But with Manchester’s array of one-way streets and its crowded downtown parking situation, finding one’s way can be challenging for those who haven’t been here before.

What’s needed, say planning and tourism officials, are way-finding signs that better point the way to the city’s top attractions and districts, signs designed with both the out-of-town driver and the pedestrian in mind

“If you get off 93 at Hanover Street and you have to get to the Verizon it can be hard to tell how to do it,” said Bob MacKenzie, director of the city’s Planning and Community Development department.

Planning Department staff are currently putting together a way-finding signage package for the city, a package which could be submitted to aldermen as early as next month. If approved by the board, the signs could be placed mainly downtown sometime this year. The signs will come in two varieties: pedestrian signage on Elm Street and vehicular signage in a yet-to-be determined area of the city.

“We want to make sure [visitors] know about all Manchester has to offer,” MacKenzie said. “Eventually we’d like to have them throughout the city.”

Currently, the city has the occasional signs pointing to the civic center, minor-league ballpark or city parking lots and garages. These signs, however, are scattered and plain.

While MacKenzie did not have any conceptual drawings to share, he said the signs will be modeled after similar signs in Philadelphia. The signs there are multi-colored and each point the way to nearly a dozen attractions and areas.

In addition to the Verizon and the ballpark, pedestrian signs to be placed on Elm Street would point the way to things like the YMCA and Palace Theatre, MacKenzie said. They would also list hidden gems like the Currier Museum of Art, which he said many visitors don’t even know about.