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.