The secret door in the subway wall

Amid all the cute beaver plaques that adorn the Astor Place station lies a subway mystery: What’s with the tiled-over doorway on the southbound side that says “Clinton Hall” above it?

Turns out it was the name of the building at 13 Astor Place, above the station. Formerly the Astor Place Opera House (and the site of the Astor Place riots in 1849 that killed 20 people), the building housed the Mercantile Library of New York. When the city constructed the Astor Place station in 1904, they created an exit from the platform to the library.

The Mercantile Library occupied the site from 1855 to 1932, when it relocated to 47th Street.

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4 Responses to “The secret door in the subway wall”

  1. Second Ave. Sagas | A New York City Subway Blog » Blog Archive » The door to nowhere Says:

    […] Ephemeral New York investigates the history behind the Clinton Hill door on the downtown platform at Astor Place. […]

  2. Mike Says:

    Isn’t the Mercantile Library the one that just sold its existing building to developers and is looking to move again?

  3. Tom Says:

    You forgot to mention that 13 Astor Place is now…a Starbucks. Guess it doesn’t get any more modern-day New York than that.

  4. WL Says:

    There may be a Starbucks there now, but isn’t the building owned by Cooper Union? Or did Cooper raze and rebuild on the site?

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