Yes, it’s true. New York City Mayoral candidate (and former U.S. Presidential candidate) Andrew Yang named the Times Square subway station as his favorite station in New York City. It was albeit an odd choice and has become the butt of jokes on Twitter. While it’s generally true that most New Yorkers despise Times Square, we do know some great secrets about it and specifically about the Times Square subway station, which Yang could use to impress. Untapped New York’s Chief Experience Officers says that actually “Times Square is a great station on many levels. It’s a treasure trove of New York City transit art and history.” Still we also suggest Yang hire Fran Lebowitz for his campaign. In Pretend It’s a City, she joked that just to avoid Times Square, she walks all the way up to 125th Street and back down.
We always believe that the. more you know, the more amazed you will be with even the most hated places in New York City. So, without further ado, check out how many of these secrets you might know about New York City’s perhaps second most hated station (after Penn Station), the Times Square subway station!
1. Knickerbocker Hotel Entrance
From the dawn of the subway system, direct access to was a major perk. Cultural buildings like Clinton Hall, iconic buildings like the Woolworth Building, and department stores like Wanamakers and Loeser’s could boast direct access to stations like Astor Place. When places like these closed or were torn down, doorways and corridors were left untravelled and eventually blocked off. An example of this can be found inside the Times Square subway station which was once connected to the Knickerbocker Hotel. Near the shuttle to Grand Central Terminal, at the end of Track 1, you can see a door that once led to the lowest level of the famed hotel’s restaurants and bars. Another similar sign, though losing much of its original splendor, is located at one of the exits close to the Knickerbocker.
The Knickerbocker Hotel opened in 1906 on land owned by John Jacob Astor IV. From the beginning, the lavish hotel was a popular destination, thanks especially to its location in the booming area of Times Square and its subway level entrance which clearly advertised it to downtown IRT riders. The corridor leading from the subway into the hotel, was also decorated with heraldic banners and settees, according to a description from the New York Times in 1906. Inside the tunnel today, which is closed off and used for storage, there are some architectural remnants of the former splendor found in the decaying decorative plasterwork and stenciling on the columns. The original hotel closed in 1920 and for years the Knickerbocker was used as office space. It was reopened as a hotel in 2015 but unfortunately the tunnel did not reopen with it.