Like the idea of touring old abandoned buildings? Well, what about an old abandoned subway station? If your answer’s yes, you’re in luck!
There is a chance you could see and maybe even tour what New York City Feelings refers to as “the most architecturally stunning subway station you’ve most likely never stepped foot in.” There are now a couple of ways to view New York’s Old City Hall subway station. Here’s how!
How To Tour New York's Old City Hall Subway Station
So, how do you go about touring this abandoned subway station? It turns out there is one requirement: You must be a New York Transit Museum member. Due to there being a limited number of tour spots, the New York Transit Museum saves the opportunity for Transit Museum members only. The number of tickets you are allowed to purchase for the tour depends on your membership plan. After you’ve gotten past that, the only thing left to do is to pick a tour date and buy your tickets!
Tour dates can be found in the museum’s newsletter, which you can sign up to receive via email. Be mindful that the museum schedules tours and releases tickets only three times a year: January, April, and August. In January, tickets for tours taking place January through May will become available. In April, members can purchase tickets for tours taking place May through August. In August, members can purchase tickets for September, October, November, and December tours.
Buying tickets is fairly easy. Just create an account in the online ticketing system. If you’re already a New York Transit Museum member, then you will have an account. From there, you can sign in to buy tickets, which are $50 per person. Be quick! Tickets tend to sell out as soon as they go on sale -- as in within 30 minutes fast.
Also heed this very important information: It is mandatory that you fill out a signed release form and provide a copy of your government-issued ID by the given deadline. Failure to do so will result in you not being admitted on the tour. There are no refunds on tickets.
Another Way To Get A Peek At The Station
Maybe you’re not a New York Transit Museum member and are definitely not interested in becoming one just for the tour. There is still hope alive for you being able to view the abandoned station!
Although this won’t afford you a detailed view, according to Business Insider, “You can catch a glimpse by riding a downtown 6 local train past its terminal stop, which today is known as Brooklyn Bridge-City Hall. Keep your eyes peeled as you go through the loop and a few minutes later you'll end up on the uptown platform of the same station.”
New York City Feelings suggests keeping a low profile while trying to catch a glimpse of the station. They say staying on the 6 train after its final stop isn’t technically legal due to safety and security concerns of the MTA.
“Stay on the train and duck down so as not to be easily spotted. When the train departs the station it will pass through the abandoned City Hall Station. That’s when you can get a view of the station.” They say you should “be discreet” and “keep in mind that staying on the train isn’t officially legal.” The good news? “It appears that MTA no longer strictly enforces the announcement that passengers leave the train at the Brooklyn Bridge station. Secretly visiting the station is somewhere in the ‘grey’ area of legality.”
Of course you can’t actually get off and tour the place as you would with a Transit Museum membership and tour tickets, but the ride will still afford you a pretty cool look at the abandoned station.
The Story Behind The City Hall Subway Station
Perhaps you’ve come across this article but still aren’t sure what the big fuss is about an old subway station. Don’t worry -- here’s everything you need to know about the history of this abandoned station.
Designed by skilled architects Hein and LaFarge in 1904, New York City’s first subway ride departed from the City Hall station. The breathtaking station had vaulted tile ceilings created by master artisan Rafael Guastavino. The glamour of the subway was intensified by the station’s design.
According to the New York Transit Museum, “Its elegant chandeliers, leaded skylights, and graceful curves inspired awe among visitors.”
The station started with a bang and on its first day serviced approximately 15,000 New Yorkers. People lined up to pay their nickel fare to take a ride on “the first subway to open outside of Europe,” according to Business Insider.
Not all things last, however, and the glamour of the station began to fade. The station posed a safety hazard due to the lengthening of train cars. As they got longer, gaps from the doors to the platforms were considered too wide to be safe. Also, the City Hall loop where the station was located didn’t have express service whereas the larger Brooklyn Bridge station nearby did. People began walking to the Brooklyn Bridge station instead.
The station’s tracks are still active and in use as a turnaround for the 6 line, but subways don’t stop at the Old City Hall station. In fact, trains made their last stop there on December 31, 1945.
A little fun fact: The old subway station had a moment in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, an installment of the Harry Potter movies. The station serves as the setting for a magical battle.
According to Rojak Daily, “The subway’s design was very timely with Fantastic Beasts’ setting, making it a perfect backdrop for the movie. This subway station was where two pivotal scenes in the movie took place -- the epic battle between Credence, Graves, Scamander, and MACUSA, and also the mind-blowing moment when Colin Farrell transitioned into Johnny Depp.”
Maybe you're a Harry Potter fan or maybe you just like charming old buildings with a ton of history. Either way, act on both of those interests by heading to the Old City Hall subway station.
Ready to take your quest for stunning (Potter-esque) architectural gems overseas? Set your sights on Porto, Portugal, and Livraria Lello, Portugal's stunning bookshop.