New York City Tours & Sightseeing | M2M Tours – Abandoned Subway Station
Taking a look at New York City’s most Famous Abandoned Subway Station
This perfectly restored, yet abandoned subway platform known as the “Old City Hall Station” may very well be one of our favorite “lost” treasures in all of New York City. Not only is it a window into the past showing just how important mass transit has been to the growth of our five boroughs in the last hundred years, but a keen reminder of how much of a luxury simple travel from neighborhood to neighborhood used to be. Aside from being being a stunning piece of architecture however, “Why in the world would anyone go to the trouble of building something as beautiful as this, then abandoning it? Here’s the “rest of the story”
Situated on a loop of track in front of City Hall, this station was the original Southern terminal of what was then known as the “Interborough Rapid Transit (IRT) subway”. This station, the site of the1900 groundbreaking (In a ceremony officiated by mayor Robert Van Wyck) for the entire system was designed to be the showpiece of a new transit system, one that would finally connect all New Yorkers. Known for its unique curved design and Guastavino tile, it was the only station built with such decadence in mind, including stained glass, Roman brick, tiled vaults, arches and brass chandeliers. In fact, “At the time of the opening, President A. E. Orr of the Rapid Transit Board requested that all New Yorkers join in the celebration by the blowing whistles and ringing bells.”
So what happened? Well, as the city’s population increased exponentially (partially because of features like this new subway system) so did the need to increase the systems capacity; meaning longer trains with more cars. Over time, it unfortunately became clear that the steep curvature of City Hall station platform could not accommodate the types trains we see today without extensive renovations. In 1945 the station was decommissioned and though it was designated an interior landmark in back 1979, it has remained closed to the public until about years ago.Fortunately, as part of the 2004 IRT Centennial Celebration, the station got a second look as a historically important feature of the city’s unique history, and received a needed overhaul; the skylights were uncovered, lighting fixed or replaced, and a stairway to the street reopened. In late 2004 hosted a VIP reception, and for a few hours after, the station was open to the public once again. For those who want a full-blown tour, you can become a member of the MTA Transit Museum to access the City Hall station.