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Solari train boards

From Michael Leddy, Orange Crate Art:

Solari board
A bright new LED display will soon replace the schedule board at New Haven's Union Train Station. The board to be replaced clicks clicks clicks as its letters and numbers flip. Did you know that this kind of board has a name, or several? It's called a flip board, split-flap display, or Solari board, after its Italian maker, Solari di Udine.

NPR reports that New Haven's LED display will have a simulated click click click.

Related listening, looking, reading:

Solari board photographs (Flickr)
Solari board videos (YouTube)
Train Station Board's Demise Is Sign of the Times (NPR)
Tune Changed on Solari (New Haven Independent)


ET's thoughts:

As a frequent user of the New Haven train station, I have mixed views. The Solari board is a wonderful show, especially the click click click, but the information is very limited and lacking in relevant detail. The email (reproduced in the New Haven Independent story) from Pamela Sucato, a Connecticut DOT official, makes a thoughtful and nearly convincing argument for the LED change, although I love the retro look and sound of the old board. It is important that a new LED board be decently designed. The ADA compliance criteria will damage the design quality, however.

About a year ago, I investigated buying a Solari board for an artwork, in which the labels for trains would be replaced with cryptic art slogans ("Art is art, and everything else is everything else" by Ad Reinhardt; "What you see is what you see" by Frank Stella; and so on). Then the board would click click click sequentially and authoritatively through such art thoughts. But a new board was enormously expensive and difficult to obtain.

Pamela Sucato suggests in her email that the New Haven Solari board might be donated to a museum. My use would not preserve the train schedule data, but would repurpose the board's display method into showing thoughts about art by famous artists.

-- Edward Tufte

Frankfurt Solari

The Frankfurt (Main) airport in Germany has an enormous Solari board showing detailed flight departure information. While I find that a lot of public signage in Germanic countries is unnecessarily complicated (though they also have plenty of examples of very efficient information transfer), I really like the FFM board because it is an example of a "retro" technology being "retrofitted" and used very efficaciously in a contemporary context. In contrast to most airports, I've never had a problem locating my flight information in FFM.

-- Todd M (email)

Solari board reverses origin/destination?

If I recall well the Solari board indicates train with their destination and then origin, which usually find confusing, as in my "train" of thoughts I would typically expect it in the reverse order, i.e. origin and then destination.

-- Florian (email)

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