Subway graffiti mystery dating to 1922 solved by MTA photographer

The MTA unearthed 97-year-old graffiti while renovating the Bedford Avenue subway station in Brooklyn. Photo Credit: Kaitlin McCready, NYC Transit

The writing was discovered in the Bedford Avenue station during renovations related to the L train rehabilitation project.

The MTA unearthed 97-year-old graffiti while renovating the Bedford Avenue subway station in Brooklyn.
The MTA unearthed 97-year-old graffiti while renovating the Bedford Avenue subway station in Brooklyn. Photo Credit: Debbie Egan-Chin

It may take up to 10 years to modernize the subway system, but it took less than a week for folks at the MTA to solve a mystery surrounding 97-year-old graffiti recently uncovered at the Bedford Avenue station.

The words "1922 HYATT" were discovered on an original wall of the Bedford Avenue station during renovations related to the L train rehabilitation project. When the MTA couldn’t figure out what the graffiti could be related to, it turned to the public for help.

After receiving numerous tips, the MTA announced in its "L Project Weekly" newsletter on Saturday that it had solved the "subway stumper." The man behind the graffiti is believed to be Nathan Hyatt, a Russian-born Brooklynite and civil engineer.

The man behind the tip? Marc Hermann, an MTA staff photographer who was able to provide the authority with census data, city records and more evidence to back up his choice.

Hyatt was hired as a junior engineer by the State Transit Commission in 1921 and took a Civil Service exam in 1922 to be an assistant engineer, according to records unearthed by Hermann. His name was also found on a list of assistant engineers from 1922.

The writing was found on a section of wall where the extended mezzanine will be when the renovation is done. The station is also getting eight new staircases and new elevators as part of the project.

Lauren Cook