The subway platform for the 6 train at City Hall used to be one of the most opulent in the transit system’s underground maze. The station, which opened in 1904, was dripping with chandeliers and decked with colored tiles – and some of Manhattan’s richest residents would venture to its vaults after dinner just for a browse.
But in 1945, it closed. That year, subway trains were lengthened and no longer fitted along City Hall’s curved, five-car platform. So the chandeliers were taken down, the stairs boarded up – and the platform’s existence became a well-kept secret.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t visit.
Today Ryan and I were on the 6 train and when we got to the ‘last’ stop at Brooklyn Bridge, the announcer ordered all passengers off. But we ignored him, ducked our heads and stayed on – and when the train started creeping along again, we pushed our noses to the glass on the right-hand side of the carriage.
As the train moved through the darkness, we looked out for the station – eventually spotting its bare platform and shadowed signs. It wasn’t very photograph friendly, but we managed to get a video.
Trains now pass the platform so they can loop back north into Manhattan. After our train passed City Hall, it stopped – and I felt a rush of fear that we were there for the night. But eventually, it chugged along again, taking us back into the bright lights of still-alive subway stops.
The experience was pretty spooky – and I can’t help but think it’s a shame the station is no longer in use considering its supposed grandeur and the hours of manpower that went into creating it.
If you want a closer look, you can take a tour of the station (if you sign up to be a member of the NY Transit Museum) – but if you’re downtown, I’d suggest staying on the train for an extra 10 minutes just for a glimpse. It can be our little secret.