Rails. City Hall Station.

If you take the Downtown 6 train to the last stop at Brooklyn Bridge-City Hall and then stay on the train while it winds around underground to become the Uptown 6, you’ll get a nice little surprise out the window to your right.

Mayor Robert Van Wyke presided over the ground breaking of the City Hall Station for the IRT Lexington Avenue line in March of 1900. Originally designed to look like the other stations in the line with simple white utilitarian tile with inlaid mosaic labeling each stop, this curvy station got an upgrade when the new mayor, George McClellon, declared that his stop under City Hall had to be “more beautiful than the rest.” He got what he wanted and on October 27th, 1904 he turned the silver key official opening this amazing underground hub for business. It was never the busiest station, but certainly the most beautiful with its Romanesque Revival architecture, intricate tile work, arched blue leaded glass skylights and massive brass chandeliers.

Even the oak ticket booth with cast iron bars on its windows was more ornate than ones at the rest of the stops. Unfortunately, with the expanding size or the trains, the tight curve in the stations design created a tremendously unsafe gap for passengers to navigate and the station closed on December 31, 1945. Sealed with concrete slabs, it became a virtual tomb until 1995 when it was intended to be reopened as a part of the New York Transit Museum. Plans were halted for that project when the Giuliani administration deemed it’s location a “highly secure” area due to terrorist threats. So today, this incredible piece of transit history remains unused except for the occasional tour given to members of the Transit Museum.

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