Old City Hall Subway Station

Museum of the City of New York

surprisingly beautiful!

The prettiest subway station in New York has been abandoned for over 70 years! The very first station, it was designed as kind of an elegant, show-off flagship of a system which has become known for grittiness. Most New Yorkers as well as visitors would be surprised to know that there is a subway station that has chandeliers and beautiful decorative arts that would be almost unheard of in the stations commonly used today. It opened on October 27, 1904, dazzling travelers with its skylights, glass tiles, and brass chandeliers and was designed by Rafael Guastavino in the Romanesque Revival style.

what led to its closing

Although gorgeous, the station proved to be impractical. It was built on a sharp curve which meant it could only accommodate fewer cars than most of the trains required (about five). Also, presumably due to heavy commuter traffic to and from Brooklyn, the nearby Brooklyn Bridge station became more widely utilized. Passenger service discontinued on December 31, 1945. Currently, the station is only used by six trains turning around to head back uptown and into the Bronx. When the trains go through, they are solely occupied by the conductor, generally speaking.

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visitor access

It is rumored that if you have a nice conductor who allows you to stay on the southbound 6 train for the turn through City Hall, you can catch a glimpse of the station. Otherwise, entrance into the station is not so easy to come by. If you can get a sought-after spot on a tour conducted by Transit Museum staff, which get sold out almost as quickly as they are available, you'll be in for a rare treat!

Cover Photo Credit: @nyclovesnyc via Instagram

Museum of the City of New York
Written By Museum of the City of New York

The Museum of the City of New York celebrates and interprets the city, educating the public about its distinctive character, especially its heritage of diversity, opportunity, and perpetual transformation.

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