Now this is a subway station worth celebrating

I’m as thrilled as any other New Yorker about the opening of the first leg of the Second Avenue Subway last weekend.


And while the three new stations on the line are bright, clean, and easy to navigate, they just don’t hold a candle to the sublime and triumphant City Hall subway station, opened to an excited and celebratory public in October 1904.


Though the tile-and-chandelier station closed to commuters in the 1940s, you can still view it.

Either sign up for an official tour sponsored by the New York Transit Museum (here’s a peek at what you’ll see) or look hard out the window of the 6 train as it turns around after the Brooklyn Bridge stop to head back uptown.

[Postcards: NYPL]

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9 Responses to “Now this is a subway station worth celebrating”

  1. Steven Tenenbaum Says:

    Good morning I thoroughly enjoy receiving your posts. I was wondering if you could research the large building in East Flatbush which was once part of the Brooklyn State Hospital. This was a very large structure. that dwarfed everything around it. It completely divided East Flatbush into a north and south district. It’s tremendous shadow cast darkness over the neighborhood north of Winthrop Street throughout the winter season. The building no longer exists but the semi circular driveway does. The entry pillars remain on Clarkson Avenue. I have attached two photos. The first is a stock photograph of the building. The second is a picture of me and my Dad after clearing snow on Troy Avenue at the intersection of Rutland Road. A section of the hospital structure can be seen in the upper right hand corner. Thanks again for all of the wonderful posts. Steven Tenenbaum, MD


  2. ephemeralnewyork Says:

    Thank you for your kind words–and the building sounds curious. It doesn’t look like the photos came through. Can you send them to ephemeralnewyork @ gmail?

  3. Bella Stander Says:

    I love your posts too, and always learn something new about my native city. Please forgive this shameless plug: We commissioned a beautiful watercolor painting of the original City Hall station for the RAIL USA Eastern States map. Art prints and notecards of the image are available on eBay and Etsy:

  4. ephemeralnewyork Says:

    Thanks Bella, plugs about old New York are welcome!

  5. Michael Leddy Says:

    Three cheers for Raphael Guastavino!

  6. ephemeralnewyork Says:

    Yes, absolutely. Those tiles!

  7. Sue Schwab Says:

    I saw a piece on the BBC World documentary show on the Guastavino Tile work last spring. They showed several examples but the one that they spent the most time on is the City Hall Subway stop. It is glorious and it is a pity that it has been shuttered for years. This is a work of art that needs to be seen by the public. Thank you for highlighting it.

  8. The Suburban Gentleman Says:

    This is great. Our family has a ton of old pictures of NYC and Chicago from when the Metro transit systems was considered to be luxurious, and for that matter travel of all kinds used to be considered luxurious. Sad that is has now become normal for people to get on airplanes in their pajamas.

  9. Susan at FindingNYC Says:

    I’ve not had the chance to take the tour yet, but it’s on my list of things I want to do this year. The architecture is so different from any other station.

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