Inside the Old City Hall Subway Station

old city hall subway station train comingThe old City Hall subway station—the city’s first, opening in 1904—is one of those places I’ve always meant to tour, but I never got around to it. Then someone asked in a comment about it, and I investigated. The hour-long tours aren’t frequently offered, and you have to be a member of the New York Transit Museum. (If anyone knows another way in, please let me know.) Annual membership is $50 (but only $65 for two adults or $80 for families of four, with further discounts for students, seniors, and so on); the tour is $40 per person, and I got the sense you’ll want to pounce when tickets go on sale.

old city hall subway station signAdam and I went a couple of weekends ago, and whether the tour is worth the cost depends in good part, I suppose, on how much you value exploring someplace otherwise off limits and whether you’ll use the other membership amenities. I definitely enjoyed it, perhaps because I told myself I would post a photo essay and not much more, so I didn’t have to listen to the guide take notes. There’s been quite a bit written about the station online—the Wikipedia link at the top gives good background—and besides, you get a handout about the station, which I read before we embarked. You take the 6 south from the Brooklyn Bridge stop, and the train stops at the old station just for the group—it felt Harry Potter–esque to stand on a platform in order to go somewhere most everyone else didn’t even know about. Similarly, it was also a treat to see, as trains went by in the station, passengers gape in amazement not just at the old station but at us, waving at them and taking their photo.

The station was decommissioned in 1945 because the Brooklyn Bridge stop—with local and express trains—was so popular that it rendered the flagship station unnecessary.

P.S. The lightbulbs were made with treads in the reverse direction, so if people stole them, they wouldn’t be able to use them elsewhere.

old city hall subway station mezzanineold city hall subway station bricksold city hall subway station mezzanine ceilingold city hall subway station mezzanine herringboneold city hall subway station ticket booth photoold city hall subway station mezzanine arch detailold city hall subway station stairwellold city hall subway station entrywayold city hall subway station train entering stationold city hall subway station vaultsold city hall subway station glass skylightold city hall subway station train with peopleold city hall subway station train leaving



  1. I’ve taken my kids and some visitors on the illicit ride around that 6 train loop to get the brief glimpse through the window but these photos are really incredible

  2. thanks for the vicarious trip. Great photos of gorgeous Guastavino work.

  3. Gorgeous photos – I’m so jealous! I love the photo of the passengers on the train peering out with their hands on the windows…