Photos 14 Oct 2007 09:28 am

Hats off Photosunday

– You’ll remember back in August I promised to give you some more photos of the Art in the BMT. No, you don’t remember? I’d posted some photos from the Prince Street subway station which displays some silhouettes artistically tiled into the walls.

Well, I remember it, and today’s the day. I have images from the 23rd Street BMT station which displays hats. Yes, HATS. I wasn’t sure what this has to do with the subway or the BMT, but there are lots of hats floating about that station, and it intrigued me. So I went to the station specifically to take these photos. In fact, I was walking past it when I remembered that I wanted to photograph them.

(Click any image you’d like to enlarge.)

The exhibit is called Memories of 23rd Street and was designed and constructed by Keith Godard. A London-born graphic designer and artist Mr. Godard also designed the
14 ft. high-relief bronze historical plaques on the Brooklyn Bridge that, he insists, were inspired by Lorenzo Ghiberti’s ”Gates of Paradise” in Florence.

I learned that Mr. Godard’s idea for the piece is, apparently, two. First, he honors all the people who probably stood at this intersection since the station was built by picturing their hats.

Secondly, the Flatiron Building (just above this station) once was notorious for the wind tunnel it created above ground. Hats went flying everywhere up and down 23rd Street.
Hence, the flying hats and the term “23 Skidoo.”

If you have the time (a train could be coming into the station just as you arrive, and you’ll have to rush on board missing the artwork), you can go in close to study the elaborate tile constructions.

All of the hats are identified with little labels a couple of feet below the images. If you
check out the MTA’s site, you can see whose hats are flying about.



Since I came to see the HATS, I had all the time I wanted. I stood about snapping pictures and had the few early morning riders watching me. There, of course, were hats up and down both platforms in the subway station. I stayed on the one side – going Downtown.

I let a couple of trains go by before leaving when I felt I’d shot enough.

10 Responses to “Hats off Photosunday”

  1. on 14 Oct 2007 at 9:51 am 1.Didier said …


    I have been following those Sunday photo reports for a while now. Don’t you think they would make a great subject for an art book? I would be the first one to buy it.


  2. on 14 Oct 2007 at 11:41 am 2.Michael said …

    Thanks for the compliment, Didier. I don’t think the photos are good enough, really, to make for publishing. I enjoy posting them, though, and hope they entertain others.

  3. on 14 Oct 2007 at 11:50 am 3.Mary McKitrick said …


    I love your weekend photo trips through the city.

    I wonder what the “real” story is about 23 skidoo. I heard it was ladies’ skirts, rather than hats, that inspired the phrase! :)

    Some weekend you should go uptown to 110th street between Broadway and Amsterdam. There’s a building on the north side of the street with carved gargoylish stone figures in various stages of making soup. If you’ve never seen them, I think you will be glad to have made the trip!

    Thank-you for all the wonderful photos.


    Mary McK.

  4. on 14 Oct 2007 at 12:56 pm 4.Mac said …

    I think the hats are also positioned so that passengers waiting for the trains appear to be wearing funny hats to the passengers on the trains. Although this illusion has only worked for me maybe once or twice. Interesting to learn more about them though. Thanks!

  5. on 15 Oct 2007 at 10:59 am 5.Bridget said …

    Sure, I remembered about the Art in the BMT. Thanks for taking me along , it put me in a good mood!

  6. on 21 Oct 2007 at 11:19 am 6.annulla said …

    Great story. I guess, as a fellow afficiando of the art in the subways, it is time for me to post some, too.

    Regarding for art books on the subject, I can recommend a couple: Subway Style: 100 Years of Architecture & Design in the New York City Subway and Along the Way: MTA Arts for Transit.

  7. on 16 Jan 2008 at 4:54 pm 7.Christine said …

    That is so fantastic! It is the best kind of art, art for every body that looks.

  8. on 16 Jan 2008 at 9:19 pm 8.Suzanne said …

    Another reason why NYC is an art mecca. They appreciate having pieces of art inspire you through out your day. Thanks!

  9. on 25 Jul 2009 at 9:15 pm 9.Felt Hats said …

    Great information. Thanks for sharing

  10. on 05 Sep 2017 at 8:39 am 10.Ima Rauchwerger said …

    My partner and I stumbled over here by a different page and thought I might as well check things out. I like what I see so i am just following you. Look forward to looking at your web page again.

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