City Hall subway station: a timeless secret in New York’s underground!

City Hall, New York

New York is the largest city in the U.S., and as such, it’s obviously full of secrets, like its magnificent abandoned City Hall subway station!

New York is the most popular destination for tourists, along with Los Angeles and Miami, and the Big Apple is probably the U.S. city with the most secrets. Among them, there’s one you can easily visit on your trip to New York: the abandoned City Hall subway station!

One of the city’s first stations, it opened its doors to New Yorkers in 1904, and closed in 1945, after the Second World War. To help you discover this magical place, Generation Voyage has put together an article on this unusual location, with all the information you need to prepare a visit to this timeless place!

In the footsteps of New York’s City Hall subway station

City Hall, New York

Photo credit: Shutterstock / Felix Lipov

To understand the significance and history of the abandoned City Hall subway station, we need to go back to the construction of New York’s first subway lines. Today, the subway covers hundreds of stations and has dozens of lines, but when it opened in 1904, it had just a few lines serving the main points of interest, industry and commerce.

A number of stations had been built, and City Hall Station was one of them. More precisely, it was the terminus of the very first subway line, opened on October 27, 1904, and one of the most beautiful of all.

But why has it become an abandoned subway station, you may ask? Well, with the popularization of mass transit and the ever-increasing number of New Yorkers boarding the subway every day, the cars were changed and made longer and wider, as were the doors and rails.

As a result, the station was no longer up to standard to ensure the safety of passengers and the passage of subways, and the city would have had to invest in enlarging the tracks and fitting out the station so that it could once again accommodate the metro. But this represented too great an investment for the station’s income. At the time, the station handled only a few hundred passengers, far fewer than the other stations on the line.

City Hall Station finally ceased to be used in 1945, but the No. 6 subway still passes through the station after reaching Brooklyn Bridge, providing a brief opportunity to view the site.

What’s behind the abandoned City Hall subway station?

City Hall, New York

Photo credit: Shutterstock / Felix Lipov

City Hall Station is a magnificent subway station that has remained unchanged since it was built in the early 20th century. You’ll be able to take a few moments to relax and marvel at the extraordinary way it has been preserved over the years.

This station, with its vaulted roofs, is simply timeless: its large semi-transparent glass windows create a warm atmosphere when the sun illuminates the station, its green and white cobbled walls are magnificent, and the few plaques adorning the walls recall the names of the members of the Chamber of Commerce who authorized the construction of the metro.

The ghost of City Hall

Note that if you like ghost stories, City Hall Station – of course – has its own story too. According to urban legends, it happened in the early years of the metro’s construction.

During its construction in the early 20th century, workers on the site often mentioned strange, whining-like noises, although they were not really identifiable. These sounds were always heard late, well after sunset. Many workers tried to find out the origin of these sounds, wondering if someone had entered the construction site and set up shop in the tunnels, but to no avail.

The sounds continued for several weeks, until a new worker from a tribe named Leni Lenape came to work in this subway station. When night fell and the complaints began to be heard, he recognized the sounds as a language of a tribe that had lived on the land of New York.

After some research, it was discovered that the City Hall station was in fact built on an ancient warfield where many American Indians lost their lives, and the sounds heard were in fact the lamentations of the spirits of the warriors who perished there and were not given a proper funeral.

The workers, worried by what they had just discovered, decided to call in a shaman, who performed a ceremony to give peace to the wandering spirits of the warriors. Since then, the ghosts have been at peace, and no lament has been heard. Or at least, no one is there to hear them, and who knows if other ghosts have appeared in this place that has been abandoned for over 70 years.

How to get there

If you’d like to see City Hall Station for yourself, we’ve put together some useful information to help you prepare for your visit.

How?

There are 2 ways of accessing and admiring the station, one of which is somewhat risky in terms of the law.

Le métro n°6

Indeed, the easiest way to admire City Hall Station is to stay on metro no. 6 while it makes a U-turn, as it passes the old station 2 times. However, always remember that this method is illegal, although many tourists seeking to see City Hall for themselves defy the law every day.

In this case, it’s advisable to choose the 7th, 8th or 9th car of the metro to have time to see the station coming, but also to choose a sunny day to take advantage of the station’s illuminations.

The New York Transit Museum

The other way, totally legal this time, is to take a guided tour of New York’s Transit Museum, where you can see the magnificent architecture of the Old City Hall subway station from the platforms.

The Transit Museum is a little-known museum for tourists, but also for most locals, dedicated to the history of metro line construction, but also containing many metro cars from all eras.

When?

Tours organized by the Transit Museum take place once a month at the most, and you’ll need to book your ticket in advance, as they leave very quickly, sometimes in as little as fifteen minutes.

As for the 6 metro, it runs regularly throughout the day and non-stop every day. You can find its exact timetable online, or in the metro stations. Generally speaking, however, you’ll be able to catch a subway train every 5 to 10 minutes at most.

At what price?

The metro

If you take the metro to see the station:

  • Normal ticket: $3
  • Reloadable MetroCard (discounted to $2.62 per trip): $5.5 to $100
  • Unlimited pass for 7 days or more: approx. $34

Transit Museum

If you do manage to secure a place at the Transit Museum, you’ll need to budget $50 per adult for the visit, and only after acquiring a paying membership card. This works out at around $35 per card, renewable year-round.

What I can discover in the area

City Hall, New York

Photo credit: Shutterstock / Felix Lipov

Of course, you’ll probably want to visit even more of New York City after seeing City Hall Station. Among the must-see activities and visits, you could :

  • To stay in the world of transport, visit Grand Central Terminal, the benchmark for railway stations in the United States.
  • Visit the New York Transit Museum, a little-known museum housed in a station dating back to 1936.
  • Take the ferry and visit the Statue of Liberty, a symbol of both the city and the United States.
  • Stroll through Central Park and its 341 hectares of greenery in the middle of the concrete jungle that is New York.
  • For art lovers, enjoy the Metropolitan Museum of Arts and the Guggenheim Museum, with their extensive collections of works of art and art-related objects.
  • Pass by Broadway and Time Square during your evening and enjoy the animation of these two emblematic places, but also their multiple illuminations.
  • Take a trip to Coney Island for a taste of the famous hot dogs, but also enjoy the various barracks and take a ride on the Ferris wheel.