MTA says no plaque-o for Jacko at subway station he made famous

for The Brooklyn Paper
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The MTA told a Brooklyn councilwoman to beat it after she suggested that the Hoyt-Schermerhorn subway station be renamed in honor of Michael Jackson, who famously filmed his “Bad” video there in 1987.

But Councilwoman Letitia James (D-Fort Greene) is still working day and night for subterranean recognition of Jackson on the eve of what would have been the singer’s 51st birthday on Saturday.

Last week, James approached the transit agency again, this time to suggest that a plaque be placed in the station to recognize its role in Jackson’s famed video.

Though the song clocks at only 4:07, the video, directed by Martin Scorsese (“Kundun,” “New York, New York”) is a sprawling, 18-minute magnum opus wherein Jackson uses the power of dance to defeat arch-nemesis Wesley Snipes in a gang fight that takes place in the stark white-tiled station that currently serves as a stop on the A, C and G lines.

“They told me to beat it after I asked for the station to be co-named, and then they also told me no plaque,” said James, who joked that the MTA would likely jump at the chance to rename the station if the Jackson family or its foundation donated $100 million. Indeed, Atlantic Yards developer Bruce Ratner bought a renaming of the Atlantic Avenue and Pacific Street station for $200,000 earlier this year.

MTA spokesperson Kevin Ortiz responded that plaques and memorials are prohibited, but station renamings are negotiable.

“We are currently working on guidelines and protocol to see how we can move forward with what we consider to be a viable revenue source,” he said.

The MTA does allow both plaques and statuary under its “Arts in Transit” program, which kicks in whenever a station is renovated. The 14th Street station on the A line, for example, has Tom Otterness figurines cavorting in its crevices.

Frank Bowles, a Clinton Hill resident who was waiting at Hoyt-Schermerhorn on Wednesday, backed James’s bit for a Hoyt-Jackson station.

“It’s a great idea, and I’ll tell you why — it’s a revenue builder,” he said. “All the tourists that would go through the turnstiles just to take that picture.”

Updated 5:14 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Penny from Clinton Hill says:
Sounds good to me! Rename it, can't even remember who was Hoyt-Schermerhorn.
Aug. 28, 2009, 9:53 am
c from bh says:
Am I the only one who's noticed that the Hoyt Schermerhorn stop is OUTSIDE James' district?
Aug. 28, 2009, 9:57 am
sam from downtown says:
did you notice that she is a CITY Council member?
Aug. 28, 2009, 11:57 am
Abe from Downtown says:
Aug. 28, 2009, 1:28 pm
al pankin from downtown says:
the mta shouldn't name a station after michael jacson. he didn't even come from brooklyn. we have alot of famous stars from brooklyn, how about barbara streisand, neil diamond, carol king, JZ, spike lee, mike tyson, on and on..
Aug. 28, 2009, 2:08 pm
Sid from Boerum hill says:
I really don't understand why its such a big deal to put up a plaque indicating that the video was shot there. I understand about why not wanting to name it after him. Just be happy that Fulton Street isn't renamed after Sonny Carson who was from Brooklyn...
Aug. 28, 2009, 6:39 pm
Big Epic from Park Slope says:
Why shouldn't it be renamed? and why not MJ? he made that train station famous to all the Brooklyn Nites who know of Hoyt-Schermerhorn.
and to have his presence recorded in a music video in a Brooklyn Train Station is historic. MTA is just full of a bunch of racists!!
I'm sure if it was Barbara Streisand or Neil Diamond who died a horrific death, they would rename or extend its name for them. it's sad!!
Think of all the people from all over that end up in that Train Station for either stopping or exchanging trains, if they were to see his name and the reason why on a plaque? It would be history, photos taken and spread all over the world. just don't see the big picture...But I won't get into the MTA politics...the biggest Union Crooks around!!
Aug. 31, 2009, 6 pm
Sam from Bay Ridge says:
Yes the MTA are a bunch of crooks but racist? I dont think so. MTA has never renamed a station for a white pop star, why would they do it for Wacko Jacko?
Sept. 4, 2009, 11:22 am

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