Deep in the belly of New York’s subway system, a beautiful untouched station resides that has been forgotten for years with only a limited few knowing of its existence. Stunning decoration with tall tiled arches, brass fixtures and skylights run across the entire curve of the station, almost a miniature imitation of Grand Central Station… But it sounds like something straight out of Harry Potter, right?
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.
However, now you don’t have to take my word that the secret City Hall Station exists, as 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!
And if that isn’t enough, The Underbelly Project has turned it into a kind-of off-limits art gallery. They are a group of street artists who have painted the walls of the unattractive concrete areas with their art in a spooky art exhibition that will be witnessed only by urban explorers who prowl the deep train system at night and Metropolitan Transportation Authority workers.
Over a hundred murals have been accumulated over time by graffiti artists, namely PAC and Workhorse (infamous NYC graffitists), who discovered the bare walls and invited others to add their art.
But if you want to go and view these art works, you will most definitely run the high risk of being arrested as venturing the tunnels is both highly illegal and dangerous! I’ll just stick to seeing the photographs as I’m pretty sure my search for art would turn into a horror story down in the black tunnels… or I’d get hit by a train.
- New York City’s Hidden ‘City Hall’ Subway Station – Pictures (noliesradio.org)
- Take a Ride on the New York Subway Circa 1905 (blogs.smithsonianmag.com)