What’s the Real Deal Behind the “I Heart NY” Logo?

Fernando Fernando

What’s the Real Deal Behind the “I Heart NY” Logo?

“I lung for you, NY!” “Seriously, I’m not kidney-ing! NYC is cool!” “Come to NY, it’s more interesting than a gall bladder!” This may have been the thought process that Milton Glaser went through before he settled on the iconic, legendary “I Heart NY” design.

It has been spoofed and faithfully reproduced a million times. It’s been printed on EVERYTHING from cups, cup holders, coffee cups, cup sleeves, even tea cups and everything else (not just cup related stuff). You may be wearing a t shirt with the design right now. But what’s the story behind this timeless design?

If you think things in NYC are bad now, don’t go to 1970s NYC. Crime rates were at an all time high, the city went bankrupt, there were blackouts that led to looting… Needless to say, NYC wasn’t the hot tourist destination it is now. The state department needed an effective campaign to reignite tourism. They had a slogan (“I Love New York”), a jingle, and a television commercial, but they were missing a logo.  They hired a young designer, Milton Glaser, whose work on a Bob Dylan compilation album and a New York magazine cover had impressed them.


Although it sounds too good to be true, Glaser presented the executives a crumpled piece of paper out of his pocket with a sketch done in the back of a NY taxi. He had drawn the logo we all know and love today. Glaser did the work  pro-bono, just to give the city a hand. Today, the New York State Empire State Development (ESD), New York’s chief economic development agency, holds the trademark to the “I Love New York” logo, and licenses its use. According to a 2011 British Telegraph newspaper article, official merchandise generates more than $30 million a year.  But Glaser’s work hasn’t gone completely unrewarded: he received a medal from Barack Obama for his work in 2009. You too can help Glaser get the fame and praise he deserves, by letting everyone know about the story of his logo!

Featured image source: [travefy]