Ike, not JFK, killed men's hats





Robert Krulwich is a Science Correspondent for NPR.

...Why did guys stop wearing headgear in midcentury America? 

...I am the son of a hat designer. And my father, Allen S. Krulwich, had a different explanation. The president who de-hatted America, he thought, was Dwight Eisenhower....

Before Eisenhower, many more people used public transportation. After Eisenhower, they used a car. That, my father thinks, created the critical Head-To-Roof Difference.

A person of average height standing in a bus, tram or subway car has, roughly, three feet between the top of his head and the roof....

Until cars became the dominant mode of personal transport, there was no architectural reason to take your hat off between home and office. With Dwight Eisenhower's interstate highway system came cars, and cars made hats inconvenient, and for the first time men, crunched by the low ceilings in their automobiles, experimented with hat-removal, and got to like it....



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