On December 31, 1945, subway cars discharged the final passengers at the old City Hall station, which had opened only 41 years prior as the "jewel in the crown" of New York City's transit system. Although the station had welcomed around 150,000 riders the day it debuted in 1904, by the time it closed, it was one of the system's least-used stops—nearby Brooklyn Bridge–City Hall had far surpassed it in ridership. But the shuttering of the stop meant that the gorgeous station—with its domed ceilings covered in Guastavino tile, ornate chandeliers, and beautiful glass skylights—was effectively hidden from public view. Even though it abandoned plans to open an annex there, the New York Transit Museum holds semi-regular tours of the station—and Curbed was lucky enough to get on a recent one to see what the station looks like 70 years after it closed.
Tours are led by veteran guide John Simko, and the excursion begins near City Hall Park—specifically, on the site where the city's first underground transit, which was powered by pneumatic tubes, was located. (The 300-foot tunnel didn't last long—surprise, surprise.) The tour then moves inside City Hall Park, so Simko can show where the entrance to the old City Hall Station was located, before heading underground.
It's an open secret that straphangers can peek at the old station by remaining on a 6 train as it loops around from the downtown to the uptown track, but for the tour, groups disembark (with the help of some very game MTA employees) on the old platform. It's small—and loud, since 6 trains continue to pass by while you're exploring—but still as beautiful as ever. (Even 70 years of disuse haven't hurt the Guastavino tile and ornate skylights all that much.) Check out more photos below.