New York hides 16 abandoned and disused stations and one of the stations that’s worth a visit is the City Hall subway station. With its distinctive design and history, this station is now accessible to those who’re interested to roam around by signing up in New York’s Transit Museums tours.
The station was originally the showpiece for the city’s first subway system, the “Manhattan Main Line” which started in 1904. It is located on a single 600-foot long track loop in the south of the current City Hall/Brooklyn Bridge subway station. Passenger trains in the #6 subway line still go through this loop but never stop in this station.
What’s eye-catching here is the central mezzanine that is covered with green, brown and cream-tiled arched walls (Guastavino tile arches) that join the arched ceiling with a glass skylight at the center. Go down the passageway to reach the platform with 15 arches lit by the shuttered skylights and 12 (but 1 missing) old brass chandeliers that hang between them. Opposite the mezzanine are three bronze plaques commemorating the achievement of building New York’s first subway: the center plaque for the first subway system, the left for the Staff of the Chief Engineer, and the right for the Rapid Transit Subway Construction Company.
So why did they have to shut down the City Hall station? As train car sizes increase to handle the growing number of passengers, stopping by the station and going around back north became difficult. The newer cars were too long for the station that could only handle up to five train cars and the gap between the train and the platform became too wide that it was dangerous for passengers to walk over. So on December 31, 1945, it was officially closed.
If you don’t want to join the tours and just want to take a peek at this station, you can stay in the downtown 6 train after the Brooklyn Bridge station which is the line’s last stop.
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