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The Real Story Behind The Abandoned Subway Station In New York City Since 1954

The underground subway system of New York City first opened its doors in 1904. The first station, City Hall, represented the commencement of the subway line that would run from Downtown Manhattan to 145th Street in Harlem, and it was built in 1913. The City Hall Station, which served as a symbol of New York City's emergence as a great worldwide city when it was built, is an abandoned subway station in New York since 1954.

A black and white picture of people sitting in an old train cart all wearing hats
A black and white picture of people sitting in an old train cart all wearing hats

The abandoned subway station in New York since 1954 has a long and interesting history to develop and construct the city's subway system, New York City contracted with a private corporation - the Interborough Rapid Transit Company (IRT) - beginning in the late 1800s. In those days, the United States was rising as a great force on the international scene, and New York City was the face of the nation's financial and cultural strength, reflecting all of the principles that distinguished the United States from other countries.

The city, and the country, for that matter, were eager to distinguish the nation's first subway system as something special. After making a tidy profit, the IRT went all out in building City Hall Station, which served as the project's focal point as the point from which the first train would depart and so served as the public face of the entire subway system. It was critical that the subway system, and in particular City Hall Station, be built in a manner that would be on par with the underground systems in London, Paris, and Rome.

The corporation hired some of the best architects and designers in the country to create its facilities. Heins & LaFarge, two of the station's major architects, are also well-known for their work on the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City's Times Square. Gutzon Borglum, the renowned sculptor who designed and built the presidential busts at Mount Rushmore, crafted the bronze plaque honoring the inaugural subway journey in New York City.

The intricate arches, brass chandeliers, and iron-wrought amethyst glass skylights that decorate the station's vaulted ceiling add to the overall effect. Rafael Guastavino, a well-known Spanish architect, and builder, was the inspiration for the design of the ceiling in question. It is advantageous to employ the vaulted design in conjunction with the construction material chosen since it is lightweight yet is load-bearing, cost-effective, fireproof, and capable of spanning a great amount of internal space.

An inside view of the subway station in NY city
An inside view of the subway station in NY city

Once the entire line had been built, IRT and the city began marketing the new subway system to the citizens of the city. It was planned that the subways would stretch from City Hall to 145th Street, stopping at a total of 28 different stops along the way. The subways would be made up of five train cars. The slogan "City Hall to Harlem in 15 minutes" was used to promote the subway and encourage riders to take the train.

To traverse the length of Manhattan prior to the subway system, it would have taken much longer, therefore the announcement that the trip would take 15 minutes was exceedingly well welcomed. On October 27th, 1904, the New York City subway system was officially opened for business. The number of people who showed up was astonishing. On the first day of service, almost 7,000 New Yorkers lined up to take advantage of the new subway system.

The first train would depart from the beautifully decorated City Hall Station at 2:35 p.m. The gathering was so large that 200 police officers were stationed there to keep things under control. Millions of New Yorkers and tourists took advantage of the station during the following years.

Because of World War II, the City Hall Station skylights that graced the ceiling of the station were tarred over to prevent enemy fighter planes from recognizing the underground station. During World War II, critical infrastructure was frequently targeted for destruction because it would be expensive to rebuild and would interfere with day-to-day operations. Many of those skylights have remained tarred over to this day, despite modern technology.

After more than four decades in service, the City Hall subway station suffered a steady decline in the amount of traffic. It's only a few hundred feet away from the Brooklyn Bridge and in a neighborhood with less population than the rest of the borough, which makes it a convenient location.

Why Was The City Hall Subway Abandoned?

By the 1940s, the subway system had also been expanded to serve other, more populated districts of Downtown Manhattan as well as the surrounding areas. After World War II, the City Hall Station saw only about 800 passengers per day by 1945. In addition to this, the number of cars in the New York subway trains had been increased from six to 10. City Hall Station's infrastructure, which was designed to accommodate the initial five-car trains, was put to the test as a result of this development.

The lines at the station were too bent to accommodate the new, longer subway carriages. Residents were also putting pressure on the city to repair City Hall Park, which sits just above the station and could use some improvement. All of these considerations led to the decision by the city to decommission the venerable City Hall subway station, which was completed on December 31, 1945, and decommissioned. All of the ticket booths were demolished, and the wooden benches were taken from their foundations.

Approximately 77 years have passed since the City Hall Station was abandoned and covered, which is a tragedy because it is the most stunning station in the New York City underground subway system, and it deserves to be restored. Curious and motivated explorers, on the other hand, can still witness this brilliant triumph of American engineering achievement.

"Always wondered what the reasoning was for abandoning stations like that.

Then again, I live in an area where a subway wouldn’t be a good idea."

_Bourbonsguttersnake (Reddit)

"Really reminds me of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them — maybe they shot here"

_dinglepumpkin (Reddit)

Visitors to City Hall Station must be a member of the New York Transit Museum to take advantage of the tour. In addition to the membership costs, the tickets themselves are extremely hard to come by and cost a whopping $50 each. There are a couple of alternatives for those who do not like to fork over such a hefty sum of money in order to view the abandoned subway station.

After leaving the Brooklyn Bridge stop, the 6-train makes a loop via the City Hall Station before continuing its journey uptown to its downtown terminus. The windows should be observed closely so that the historic station may be seen through them when the metro train goes past. Seeing it for free is the only legal method to see it, therefore it may not be the most intimate experience.

Conclusion

Urban explorers have been known to take perilous journeys deep into the heart of the city in order to gain access to the abandoned subway station in New York since 1954 without being observed by the authorities in the past. Despite the fact that this is arguably the greatest way to get a feel for the station, it is not recommended that visitors break the law in this manner.

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