Ghost Stops on the 6 Train


Various stops of the century-old New York subway system have been abandoned. Nor they live on as ghosts: underground platforms no one waits on, graffiti no one reads, stairways leading nowhere but into a black underbelly of the scaled street overhead. By pressing your face to the train window you can glimpse these old station as they rush by the dark.


Three ghost stops can be seen on the 6 train. There's one at the old Worth Street stop between Brooklyn Bridge and Canal Street that is little more than a platform. Further north on the same line is the abandoned 18th Street station. This one is rewardingly creepy, with pillars like stalactites and lonely stairs receding into the gloom. Sub-human cannibals, albino alligators, the rat king if they exist, hang out here. But the real show is City Hall.


city hall abandoned station. photo: james maher


City Hall was the starting point of the Interborough Rapid Transit (IRT), New York's first subway. Opening day (October 28, 1904) was a spectacle: more than 100,000 New Yorkers descended underground to get a look; passengers sang in the cars, some yo-yoed the line back and forth for hours. Architects Heins & LaFarge wanted to create not just a service, but a monument, and City Hall was the masterstroke of the system. Decked with colored tile, Guastavino vaults, and chandeliers, it's generally considered New York's handsomest station ever. The upper classes used to descend in their evening clothes just to sit after dinner on the town.




It's still down there. Because the station is on the tight curve that can fit only five cars, when trains were lengthened in 1945 City Hall station was shut down. Today you can see its ghost by staying the southbound 6 train at Brooklyn Bridge before it makes a turnaround to head uptown again. The conductor will tell you over the speaker that you have reached the end of the line and it's time to get off. That's your cue to move to the right side of the car, and press your face to the glass. You can find this story and other interesting secrets on the book "Secret New York – An Unusual Guide." Have fun!

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