New York City’s abandoned City Hall subway station is one of the city’s most mythical places – accessible but barely so. It’s so beautiful, New Yorkers can hardly imagine a time when so much attention could be lavished on our transit system. And in some ways, it’s hidden in plain sight. Read on for the secrets of the old City Hall subway station:
1. It was the Southern Terminus of New York City’s First Subway Line
The Interborough Rapid Transit system (IRT), New York City’s first underground line opened on October 27, 1904 to great fanfare. The City Hall subway station was the southern terminus of the IRT line which ran to 145th Street. Designed as the “crown jewel” of the new transit system, the station reflects the values of the City Beautiful architectural movement – that beautiful architecture could engender a better civic society. It was also a time when New York City’s elite were trying to prove that the city of industrialists and businessmen could compete culturally on the same level as those in Europe.
The City Hall subway station was built in the same spirit as Central Park and Carnegie Hall – public amenities spurred by the private interest of the city’s wealthiest. At the Museum of the City of New York, you can find many artifacts related to the early days of the subway including the commemorative Tiffany and Co. shovel used by Mayor Robert Van Wyck to break ground on the IRT subway line and the first subway tickets.