Old City Hall, the ghost station of the New York subway
have you heard of Old City Hall, the ghost station of the New York subwayand would you like to see it in person?
Today we will tell you the two ways to visit Old City Hall: seeing it from the subway or going through it on a guided tour.
Whichever you choose, this forgotten station is a fascinating and one of our favorite New York secrets. Let's start!
Old City Hall, the ghost station of the New York subway
The history of City Hall, the ghost station of the New York subway
Although Old City Hall is not the only abandoned subway station in New York, it is the most famousa symbol of an era in which the city expanded horizons and modes of transport.
- In 1904, the first line was inaugurated of the New York subway. What a time when there were only a handful of stations and getting lost was impossible!
- To the south, the line began at the City Hall station. As its name indicates (City Hall means town hall), this station is located below City Hall Park, the park where the New York City Hall is still located today.
- City Hall was designed to be the crown jewel of the subway, drawing passengers underground: a spectacular station, covered in tiles, with large skylights that illuminated the platform, chandeliers worthy of a mansion... Almost almost like the subway today, huh?
- As many will recognize from the incredible vaults, the design of the station was entrusted to Guastavinothe company of the Valencian builder and his son, who left their mark on dozens of places in New York: Grand Central Station, the Ellis Island immigration center, the Cathedral of St John the Divine...
- Since he was at one end of the line, the City Hall tracks were built in the shape of a curve, so that the subways could go around.
- But that curved shape (the loop) was also the curse of City Hall. Because when New Yorkers began using the subway en masse and the other stations expanded to accommodate longer trains, City Hall couldn't keep up.
- In addition, it was right next to the Brooklyn Bridge – City Hall station, much bigger and busier. The result is that it became obsolete and received fewer and fewer passengers: to give you an idea, in 1945, 14 million people passed through Brooklyn Bridge, and only 255,000 through City Hall.
- So, in 1945, City Hall closed forever. and became a ghost station for the New York subway.
- Although several times there has been talk of giving it other uses and the station is listed on the US National Register of Historic Places, its proximity to City Hall has meant that the idea has always been ruled out for safety reasons.
- Since then, it has only been used by the metro line 6 to change direction when they reach the end of the line.
🌟 Discover others original plans in new york and secrets of the city with our local guides.
How to Visit Old City Hall Station
Now that you know his story, we will tell you the two ways we have today to visit the Old City Hall station.
The first is see it from the subway (the easy way) and, the second, sign up for a tour (a bit trickier, but highly recommended!).
See the ghost station from the subway
As we told you above, the meters of line 6 they still use Old City Hall station to make a U-turn at the end of the line.
So staying on board is your chance to glimpse the station for a few seconds:
- Get on a subway on line 6 in the direction of Downtown. If you still have trouble getting your bearings, in our guide to the New York subway we tell you everything.
- When the subway reaches the last stop, the Brooklyn Bridge – City Hall station, over the loudspeaker they will announce that everyone has to get off.
- stay on board. Although in theory you'd have to get off, we've seen plenty of people stick around over the years to see Old City Hall station and the staff turn a blind eye.
But, of course, if someone comes up to ask you to get off, listen to them and try again another time.
- Stand in the opposite window to the Brooklyn Bridge – City Hall station, that is, looking at the wall.
- The subway will start to make a U-turn and head back towards Uptown. Attentive! In less than a minute, through the window you will see the ghost station of Old City Hall appear.
Depending on the lighting of the metro and the light that enters that day through the skylights of the station, you will see it better or worse. Taking photos is complicated by reflections from the glass and you will only see it for a few moments, so don't get lost!
- The train will turn around and head towards Uptown, stopping again at the Brooklyn Bridge – City Hall station.
- Get off at Brooklyn Bridge – City Hall and head out onto Center St, below the Municipal Building, to see the beautiful arches of Guastavino. One of the most elegant entrances to the New York subway!
- It's a great time to walk across the Brooklyn Bridgeand in this guide we tell you how to do it step by step.
🌟 Trick To New York: it's best to stay in the last carriages, as when you get to City Hall the subway slows down a lot to take the curve, and from the last carriages you can see the whole platform a little more slowly.
Guided tour of Old City Hall
The other option to discover the ghost station of the New York subway is to sign up for one of the Old City Hall tours Organized by the New York Transit Museum.
Is the only way to get off at the station and walk on the platform. An unforgettable opportunity, with the only 'but' that they organize very few tours throughout the year and it is difficult to get a place.
To sign up for a tour:
- You have to become an annual member of the New York Transit Museum, the city transport museum. Which, by the way, is fabulous and we always recommend it on our list of lesser-known museums in New York.
- Two or three times a year, the museum organizes Old City Hall tours for its members. Sign up for the newsletter to be notified in advance and save the date on the calendar.
When tours go on sale, even though they have several dates, they usually sell out in a matter of minutes!
- Tours cost about $50 per person and last 90 minutes. The first 45 minutes are spent in City Hall Park, with the guides telling you the history of the station and putting you in context.
Then, board a subway on the 6 line from the Brooklyn Bridge – City Hall station and, with the help of subway employees, get off at the Old City Hall station.
- You have about 20 – 30 minutes to tour the stationtake as many photos and videos as you like (for non-commercial purposes) and be wowed by this hidden gem of New York.
Then, you get back on the subway and go back to the start.
🌟 Tip To New York: If you like abandoned places, we highly recommend the Ellis Island abandoned hospital tour.
Map – Where is Old City Hall Station?
Old City Hall is more or less on the corner of Chambers St and Center Stbelow City Hall Park and the Municipal Building.
But it can't be seen from the street and the only ways to glimpse it These are the ones we mentioned in the previous section.
We hope you found the history and directions to visit Old City Hall useful!
Did you know the ghost station of the New York subway?