History of the I love NY logo
There’s hardly anyone on earth who doesn’t know the iconic I ❤ NY logo. In souvenir stores around the world, on billboards, mugs and t-shirts, it is almost ubiquitous. The I ❤ NY logo is undoubtedly the symbol of New York City that has become ingrained in mass culture. But despite its constant presence, few people reflect on how it became a symbol of the metropolis, and even more are surprised to discover that the I love NY project was just a quick fix attempt to save a city in disarray.
In the 1970s, New York City was on the brink of collapse, both economically and in terms of public safety. 1975 was the low point. Economic collapse was imminent and seemed almost inevitable when President Ford denied federal aid to the city. At the same time, violence, trafficking, and drug use reached historic proportions in all parts of New York City, scaring away the bravest tourists and deepening the economic crisis.
It was clear that the city needed to immediately improve public safety and restore as much of the city’s tarnished reputation as possible.
William S. Doyle, then deputy commissioner of the New York Chamber of Commerce, and Mark Donnelly of the Government Authority asked the advertising agency Wells Rich Greene to create a strong advertising campaign for New York State. Graphic designer Milton Glaser was hired to design the campaign logo, and he took on the task pro bono. The Wells Rich Greene team chose the simple slogan “I Love New York.” All that was left was the logo.
The iconic I ❤ NY logo was born in a yellow Manhattan cab, waiting at a red light. Milton Glaser scribbled the simple idea, I ❤ NY, on an envelope in red pencil. I and ❤ were placed above NY. (The original sketches are on display at the Museum of Modern Art).
The final version was almost immediately popular and continues to be so today. Only later was the emblem copyrighted, to ensure that the proceeds actually supported New York State.
After 9/11, the popularity of the logo reached unprecedented heights. Sales of clothing with the I ❤ NY logo increased worldwide. The world wanted to show sympathy and support in the wake of the tragedy.
Milton Glaser created the “I ❤ NY More Than Ever” logo. A black dot was placed on the heart, symbolizing the World Trade Center. The black dot on the heart marked the location of the twin buildings in Lower Manhattan. Proceeds from the 9/11 logo poster were donated to the families of the victims.
After Hurricane Sandy, the logo was revived to promote New York City tourist attractions recovering from the natural disaster, such as the South Street Seaport and Far Rockaway.
Today, I love NY is owned by the New York State Department of Development and contributes $30 million a year to the state’s tourism development.