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New York City’s Buried Museum To Its Opulent Past

The amazing City Hall Station has been off limits to tourists - until now.

Chris Queen


September 3, 2013 - 8:00 am

City Hall Station

We all know about New York City’s famed subway system. What many of us – especially those of us who haven’t visited the city since the pre-Giuliani years – don’t realize is that there are some parts of the system that the public hasn’t seen in 70 years. One example is the ornate, century-old City Hall Station, which the city closed in 1945. The only tourists who have seen it have dodged security guards and footlong rats – until now.

It was opened in 1904, with the hope of making it the crowning glory of the New York subway system in elegant architecture and a place for commemorative plaques to honour the work that had resulted in such a successful underground mass transit system. It was to be the original southern terminus of the first ‘Manhattan Main Line’; however the station was closed and boarded up in 1945. The gem of the underground began gathering dust, forgotten by the general public, as passengers were forced off at the Brooklyn Bridge Stop before the train continued on to the terminus to make its turnaround.

The reason for its closure was that newer longer cars were required to match the demand of passengers that passed through the system. But as the stations tracks were severely curved, a dangerous gap between the train doors and the platform was formed making it an unsafe area. This combined with the fact that only about 600 people used it, resulted in its closure with only mythical plans of turning it into a transit museum. But this was never followed through.

Gorgeous tile work and beautiful stained glass ceilings highlight the lovely station, which at least appears to remain fairly intact. The blank concrete walls inside have turned into canvases for graffiti artists, who have put surprising work on display.


And finally the public will be able to view the City Hall Station in its glory when one subway line ventures through the station as a sort of moving museum.

…the 6 Train will now allow the passengers who have been enlightened with the knowledge of its whereabouts to stay on the train during its turnaround and see the Station. You won’t be able to get off, but you’ll be taken for a slow tour of the platform and see what a beauty it was in its heyday!

Here’s hoping more of New York City’s lesser known history will become available for public sight soon.

All Chris Queen wanted to be growing up was a game show host, a weather man, or James Bond. But his writing talent won out. By day, Chris is a somewhat mild-mannered church communications director, but by night, he keeps his finger on the pulse of pop culture and writes about it. In addition to his Disney obsession (as evidenced by his posts on this website), Chris's interests include college sports -- especially his beloved Georgia Bulldogs -- and a wide variety of music. A native of Marietta, GA, Chris moved with his family as a child to nearby Covington, GA, where he still makes his home. He is an active charter member of Eastridge Community Church and enjoys spending time with family and friends. In addition to his work at PJ Media, Chris spent nearly a year as a contributor to NewsReal Blog. He has also written for Celebrations Magazine and two newspapers in Metro Atlanta. Check out his website,

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All Comments   (4)
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Hidden gems like this are getting fewer and farther between. America likes paving over its architectural and infrastructural history as soon as the next trend hits.

I hope the station remains intact, but if anyone discovers the area would somehow make more money if it were gone, gone it will go.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Thank you for posting this ... another gauge of our decline from that era. We are now a culture that can pass by (but never produce) classic tilework and stained glass but we call graffiti, "art".
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Maybe you just don't know where to look; there's a guy near here with some pretty good stained glass work. He's booked solid for the next five years or so, doing new churches.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Kind of puts to shame the mid-century Soviet design that came to prevail in urban projects through till the 1990s. The Washington Metro is a tribute to utilitarian ugly and a monument to the lack of appreciation of beauty by mid-20th century architects and designers.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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