City Hall Station
The New York City Subway is one of the oldest public transit systems in the world, so it’s no surprise that Manhattan has its fair share of abandoned subway stations. We previously toured the unused City Hall station but there are many more, hidden from the public eye.
Opened in 1904, the old City Hall station with its beautiful architecture and curved platform was intended to be a showpiece of the Interborough Rapid Transit Company’s (IRT) new subway line. It was also the chosen place for hanging the commemorative plaques dedicated to those who designed, built and financed the underground train system. Contrary to popular belief, there was no plaque here honoring Alfred Ely Beach’s early pneumatic subway. The station was closed just a few decades later in 1945 because its curved platform wasn’t able to accommodate the IRT’s newer, longer cars. Today, the subway stop still remains closed but you can get a quick glimpse of the platform by taking the 6 train past its last stop at Brooklyn Bridge. For those who want a full-blown tour, you can become a member of the MTA Transit Museum to access the City Hall station.
Source: Abandoned Stations
Another abandoned stop on the former IRT line, the Worth St station was closed to passengers in 1962 due to its proximity to the Brooklyn Bridge station which had extended its platform north. Once the full-sized Brooklyn Bridge station opened, Worth St became, well, worthless. However, the station’s name bears significant meaning as it was named after General William Jenkins Worth, a hero of the Mexican War in the 1840s. On a slow moving 6 train, the word “Worth” and terra-cotta “W”’s can be spotted on some of the station’s tile-encased support columns and walls, respectively. However, it may be difficult to see much as the station is heavily defaced by graffiti.
A photo of the 18th St long before it was abandoned (1905). Source: Glassian
18th St, also on the IRT Line, was formerly sandwiched between 14 St-Union Square and 23 St. After World War II, the Board of Transportation embarked on a platform extension program, and this allowed 14 St and 23 St to lengthen their platforms and post new entrances at 15th street and 22nd street. As a result of the close proximity, 18 St was closed down in 1948. According to Joseph Brennan of Abandoned Stations, the underground stop was often used for publicity photos because it possessed no unusual features. The sealed off station is easily visible when riding the 6 train (and 4, 5 trains if no local trains obstruct the view) between 14 St and 23 St.
A rendering of the installed art piece at the abandoned Myrtle Ave subway station. Source: MTA
Closed in 1956, Myrtle Ave subway station used to run on the Brooklyn-Manhattan Transit line between Manhattan Bridge and DeKalb Avenue. The DeKalb Ave section ran into a lot of problems as it was the chokepoint for the entire BMT Broadway subway operation, “with a lot of merges and some routings crossing others at grade in the switches on both sides of the station,” writes Joseph Brennan. The entire area was rebuilt in 1956, and this caused Myrtle Ave to lose its southbound platform. The northbound platform still exists, but has been closed ever since.
An artwork called Masstransiscope by Bill Brand is located in the abandoned Myrtle Ave station. Installed in 1980, the piece works like a giant zoetrope. When the train moved, riders would see an animated cartoon, not 228 hand-painted images. The piece was restored in 2008 and 2013. You can view the video here to experience art in moving transit.
You can view this by taking the Manhattan bound B or Q trains departing from DeKalb Avenue.
Photo by David Pirmann via NYCSubway.org
The 91st Street Subway station on the 1 line was rendered obsolete by 1959 with the lengthening of platforms for the longer trains. NYCSubway.org reports that this station is well-preserved despite the graffiti.
A remnant of the elevated subway days, Sedgwick Ave and Jerome-Anderson Ave are forgotten railway terminals and elevated rapid transit link near the Harlem River in the Bronx. Both opened in 1918, they were an extension of the 9th Avenue El, a service known for its “Suicide Curve” at 110th street. In 1958, the service closed down after the city’s consolidation of its three subway systems. While the steel elevated structure was removed in Sedgwick Ave, the ground level portions and the tunnel of the station still remain today. You can take 4, B or D trains to 161 St, and travel across the footbridge over Sedgwick Ave and the Major Deegan Expressway. From there, you should be able to see the outdoor portion of the platforms in the bushes, and the ground level station hidden under the highway, marked by an old stone wall. For Jerome Ave, walk west on 162 St, and the remains of the station are on the west side of Jerome Ave on the hillside.
Image via NYCSubway.org
Before the Great Depression, a Second System was planned for the IND line to connect the Rockaways and midtown Manhattan. A full station and tracks were installed in Queens that were to connect to the Roosevelt Avenue-74th Street stop but were never used. You can see remnants where these tracks now dead-end at 78th Street. In addition, many active stations have unused levels and platforms which we explore in a follow-up piece here.