One of the world’s most iconic t-shirts is… no… not the “I’m with Stupid” t-shirt but the I ♥ NY t-shirt! This t-shirt recognized around the world has not only spawned countless spinoffs and variations, but—little known fact—has its roots firmly planted in a citywide campaign in 1977 to promote tourism in New York. Bet you didn’t know that!
Brought to You by Canada?
What began as a tagline for “Montreal, the City with Heart” was quickly adopted by New York. A vague little tagline – in its infancy at that point and with no conception of what it would grow into – was brought the attention of Wells Rich Greene advertising agency by William S. Doyle, Deputy Commissioner of the New York State Department of Commerce. Doyle then went on to recruit Milton Glaser, an as then unknown graphic designer. At the direction of Wells Rich Greene’s campaign, Doyle created the now unmistakable and iconic symbol of New York love.
The I HEART NY design saw a massive resurgence following the September 11th terrorist attacks. Prior to the attacks, the once-proud symbol had fallen victim to a saturated market—available on every street corner and in every little bodega throughout the city. It regained immense popularity as a symbol of not only love, but of support for a city and a nation that was reeling with misery in the wake of terrible tragedy. Now-renowned Doyle was once again to commissioned to create another design to embody the nation’s embrace of the Big Apple’s residents. “I LOVE NY more than ever” was born, with a black spot on the heart representing the approximate location of the World Trade Center towers in lower Manhattan.
I HEART NY: Not Just for NY, Anymore
Almost forty years after its conception, the “I HEART” t-shirt has become a staple of American pop culture. What’s found after the heart symbol, though, has taken on a life of its own: I HEART Lamp, I HEART Mustaches, I HEART My Boyfriend. You name it, it’s out there. There is no limit to the things that people HEART, apparently.