Underground New York

The New York Transit Museum occasionally offers tours of the decommissioned old City Hall Station, the first subway station in New York City. The next tour will be offered on June 19th.

The old City Hall station was the starting point for the Interborough Rapid Transit subway (the IRT), which opened with great fanfare on Thursday, October 27, 1904. That evening, starting at 7 p.m. after the dignitaries had the first rides, 150,000 New Yorkers crammed the subway for the first time, keeping the spanking new trains running past midnight. An account of opening day can be found in the next morning’s New York Timesnext morning’s New York Times, an excerpt from which appears below:

The result was that at night a vast crowd stormed the terminal entrances and taxed the best efforts of New York’s police, who had been on duty all day to shepherd them; it was carnival night in New York. Every noise-making instrument known to election night was in operation, and a great mass of people surrounded the celebration at Times Square. The crowd was, as on election day, a good-natured crowd, it disposed to snarl or say, “Awww, who’re yer shovin'”.

The design of the City Hall Station exemplified the City Beautiful Movement, with chandeliers, leaded skylights, elegant archways, a vaulted Gustavino ceiling, and colorful tile work. Closed since 2004, this jewel of a station can now only be seen on a New York Transit Museum tour, and luckily, there’s one coming up this month, on June 19. If you’re interested, get your tickets soon, because these tours sell out.

Photo: Salim Virjl/Flickr