The Straw Hat Riot of 1922 occurred in New York City. Originating as a series of minor riots, it lasted eight days and it led to many arrests and some injuries, writes MARGARET SMITH.


For centuries people have rioted over many things in the U.S.A. but a hundred years ago the city of New York was hit by a wave of rioting all because certain men were wearing straw hats when, allegedly, they should not have done.

In the 19th and 20th centuries hats were a popular accessory to most men’s wardrobes with many men wearing hats in both the freezing cold of winter and the sweltering days of summer. But, as time went on, most men were uncomfortable in heavy hats during the summer season.

From the early 1900’s, men began wearing ‘breathable’ straw hats for greater comfort in the summer months. At first, such hats were worn at sporting events, particularly boat races along the rivers and such headgear was frequently referred to as a ‘boater’. As time went on, many people regarded this form of dress to be suitable with any other attire, not just leisure wear with many ‘professionals’ wearing them as they travelled to and from work.

But, in the early twentieth century those who wore straw hats in ‘late’ summer were mocked for their fashion faux pas. Then came an unwritten rule that straw hats should NOT be worn after September 15th, a day that became known as ‘Felt Hat Day’. Just why September 15th was chosen isn’t clear as ‘Summer Time’ didn’t actually end until 21st September.

One, if not the first instance of ‘hat snatching’ occurred in Pittsburgh, on the appointed day , September 15th, in 1910. The Pittsburgh Press described how police had to intervene to protect such ‘straw lidded pedestrians’.

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