Tours of NYC’s old City Hall subway station return this spring

February 14, 2023

After a three-year pandemic hiatus, in-person tours of New York City’s abandoned City Hall subway station are returning this spring. The station, which is where the first ever subway ride departed in 1904, has been decommissioned since the 1940s. The New York Transit Museum has exclusive access to the station and offers 90-minute tours that explore its ornate vaulted Guastavino tiled ceilings, chandeliers, and skylights. Tickets will go on sale this March and are only available to members of the museum.

The tour begins at the entrance to the station above ground, where guides will share the rich history behind the development of City Hall and the subway system. Visitors will then go underground to explore the stunning station.

To sign up for a tour of the historic station, you must first be a member of the museum. Tickets cost $50 per person, go on sale three times per year, and tend to sell out very quickly. Find more information on the tours here.

The City Hall station opened its doors to New Yorkers on October 27, 1904, the same day the subway officially opened.

The city’s first subway line, the IRT (Interborough Rapid Transit Subway), ran from City Hall to 145th Street, with 28 stations and the slogan “City Hall to Harlem in 15 minutes.”

The station closed on December 31, 1945, about 40 years after it opened. The station’s curved tracks could no longer accommodate the longer train cars which had recently increased from five cars to 10.

Designed by architects George Heins & Christopher LaFarge, known for their work on the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, the two designers incorporated Spanish architect and builder Rafael Guastavino’s striking vaulted tiled ceilings.

“The expertly engineered and architecturally beautiful vaults were lightweight, fireproof, load-bearing, cost-efficient, and able to span large interior areas,” as 6sqft previously explained.

Other notable architectural features covered in the tour included the station’s glass skylights, brass chandeliers, and commemorative bronze plaques for the first subway ride.

Another way to catch a glimpse of the City Hall station is by staying on the downtown 6 train after it leaves the Brooklyn Bridge station and passes through City Hall to head back uptown.

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