2. Clinton Hall Entrance
The Astor Place subway station, one of the first original 28 subway stations in New York City, contains many unique features. One can be found just outside the turnstiles on the downtown platform of the 6 train. There, you will find a bricked-up entrance with a sign on top that reads “Clinton Hall.” This often overlooked entryway once led into the Mercantile Library of New York, also known as Clinton Hall. Though the pathway is blocked off, the building is still standing today.
The Mercantile Library was originally housed inside the Astor Place Opera House which once stood at the triangle of Astor Place on East 8th Street and Lafayette Street. The Library tore down the Opera House in 1890 to construct a new 11-story building to house its growing collection of more than 120,000 volumes. Due to the Library’s significance (it boasted members such as Ralph Waldo Emerson and Mark Twain), a private subway entrance into the building was constructed when the Astor Place subway station was built below it in 1904. The library was relocated in 1932 and today, the Clinton Hall building is condominiums. It is believed that the entrance was bricked-up at some point in the 1940s.