On Saturday, I checked out the substation at 53rd Street and 8th Avenue, across from Roseland Ballroom for Open House New York. As a member of the Transit Museum, I get first dibs on cool tours like this and the inaccessible Old City Hall Subway Station. This substation was part of the original IRT subway line and was built in 1904. It’s still in use and is currently undergoing a renovation.

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When it was built, the Beaux-Arts architecture style matched the character of the surrounding buildings, but now it stands out among its neighbors:

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A great cast-iron staircase just near the enormous wooden doors:

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The ceiling has already been renovated, the doors are up next (right side of photo). Note the Cleveland Crane and Car Co. plaque on the beams:

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For display only, it was a harbinger for all the warning signs to come inside the station:

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First warning, to be followed by one about no eating and drinking:

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The showcase of the station, a Westinghouse rotary converter that was in use until 1999!

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Lots of old hardware lying around:

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The above was a warning for this narrow area in the back of the station where the transformers were:

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The second floor was a large room used to control the power draw of the subway lines, could be operated by just two people:

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A very tempting button–resets the whole BMT subway line!

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In a makeshift room was the new modern-day controls for the 1 and 7 lines. Our tour guide turned it on, temporarily overriding the system, to show it to us!

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The room had an electic mix of objects, mixing past and present:

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