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New York’s Latest Designs Ask the Right Question: Who Cares?

Join a roundtable of Hell Gate writers as we explore New York City's descent into design perdition.

4:12 PM EDT on June 16, 2023

A new license plate unveiled by the DMV, featuring One World Trade Center, a tiny Statue of Liberty, and a miasma over some seemingly random buildings.

(New York Department of Motor Vehicles)

This week, the Department of Motor Vehicles unveiled its design for a new license plate celebrating New York City, the first of 10 regional license plates to be released this summer. But instead of dipping into New York's inexhaustible iconography, the DMV settled on a design that has the vibe of what can best be described as a "subway ad for a for-profit college," featuring a phallic One World Trade Center towering over a tiny Statue of Liberty. The plate is objectively bad and ugly—but what if that's the point? What if the plate, as Hell Gate's Adlan Jackson wrote this week, is another artifact (along with the reviled We <3 NYC logo) of the city's current contemptuous "Age of Design Apathy"?

In this week's podcast, Hell Gate writers grapple with the void, and try to find some deep truths about design, aesthetics, and the general "who cares" vibe permeating the city right now.

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