World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

City Hall (IRT Lexington Avenue Line)

Article Id: WHEBN0000728705
Reproduction Date:

Title: City Hall (IRT Lexington Avenue Line)  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: 6 (New York City Subway service), Early history of the IRT subway, Worth Street (IRT Lexington Avenue Line), Civic Center, Manhattan, Spring Street (IRT Lexington Avenue Line)
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

City Hall (IRT Lexington Avenue Line)

City Hall, also known as City Hall Loop,[1] was the original southern Heins & LaFarge.[5] This station is unusually elegant in architectural style, and is unique among the original IRT stations, employing Romanesque Revival architecture.[6] The platform and mezzanine feature Guastavino tile, skylights, colored glass tilework and brass chandeliers. Passenger service was discontinued on December 31, 1945,[7] making it a ghost station, although the station is still used as a turning loop for }|bold||}} - see for details.}|time=|exclude=4}}

The travel magazine Travel + Leisure ranked the station 12th in its list of "the most beautiful subway stations in the world" in November 2009.[8][9]



The official start of construction took place on March 24, 1900 at the front steps of City Hall, at a ceremony officiated by then Mayor Robert Van Wyck.[10]

Unlike the rest of the subway line, City Hall station had tall tile arches, brass fixtures, chandeliers, skylights, polychrome tile, and elegant curves that ran along the platform. It was lit by wrought iron chandeliers and the three skylights of cut amethyst glass[11] that allowed sunshine onto parts of the platform. During World War II, the skylights were blacked out with tar for safety.

After construction was complete, this station was the chosen place for hanging commemorative plaques recognizing the achievement of building the entire New York City Subway system. A mezzanine area above the platform once had an ornamented oak ticket booth (which no longer exists).[5]

Opening day

The subway opened to the public October 27, 1904, after opening ceremonies the day before attended by Mayor

  •—IRT East Side Line: City Hall
  • Abandoned Stations — City Hall (IRT)
  • The IRT First Stations — City Hall
  • Forgotten NY — Original 28 – NYC's First 28 Subway Stations
  • The Abandoned City Hall Subway Stop Now Visible To Tourists (PHOTOS) at The Huffington Post

External links

  • Lee Stokey. Subway Ceramics : A History and Iconography. 1994. ISBN 978-0-9635486-1-0

Further reading


See also

In the station itself is one curved five-car-long side platform serving a single balloon loop track.

South of the Brooklyn Bridge station, there is a switch on the downtown local track, allowing trains to leave service and enter either of two storage tracks. Trains in service turn onto a balloon loop, continuing past the abandoned side platform on the west side of the loop, and re-appearing in the Brooklyn Bridge station on the uptown local track. The uptown and downtown express tracks pass over the loop, continuing south.

North of City Hall station, the IRT Lexington Avenue Line carries four tracks. As seen in the track diagram, left to right, these are the downtown local track, the downtown express track, the uptown express track, and the uptown local track.

G - Street Level
Side platform, not in service
Northbound local do not stop here (Next stop is Brooklyn Bridge – City Hall)

Station layout

The station can also be seen by passengers who choose to keep riding the as they travel around the loop to head back uptown. The loop track is classified as revenue track, and the newest announcement programs on the R142A subway cars, some of which are used on the , announce at Brooklyn Bridge – City Hall: "This is the last downtown stop on this train. The next stop will be Brooklyn Bridge – City Hall on the uptown platform." A further announcement follows, warning passengers to remain inside the car at all times.[19] However, the R62A cars also on the use manual announcements, and thus may not announce this.[20]

For the 2004 Centennial Celebration, one of the street entrances was restored (and presently resembles a modern station entrance), and the station was opened for the duration of the celebration. Otherwise, the station is now used only as an emergency exit. As of 2006, tours of the station are once again being conducted,[17] by the staff of the Transit Museum.[18] However, at present, tours are only open to registered members of the museum and require advance payment and reservations.

On the surface, all that can be seen is a concrete slab inset with glass tiles, the skylights for the platform below. This patch of concrete is in the middle of a grove of dogwoods in front of City Hall, close to Broadway.

In April 1995, federal grant money was sought to reopen the station as a branch of the New York Transit Museum, which occasionally ran tours of the station as part of its popular "Day 1 of the IRT" and "Beneath City Hall" packages. In late 1998, due to perceived security risks in the area around City Hall after terrorist bombings in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam, the station was declared a "highly secure" area by the Giuliani administration. Plans for the museum annex were abandoned and museum tours ceased for several years.

Emergency exit in City Hall Park
The glass blocks of the skylights in City Hall Park

Current status

Given the extensive renovations that would have been required to bring the station up to modern standards, the city decided to close it instead.[2] The final day of service was December 31, 1945.

City Hall, notwithstanding its architectural grandeur, was never an important station. In its final year of use, it served only 600 passengers per day[2] and was not open at nights (when trains continued to the loop station at South Ferry). The Brooklyn Bridge station, located a short walk away, at the opposite end of City Hall Park, was more popular, as it provided both local and express service, including trains to Brooklyn. The Brooklyn Bridge streetcar terminal and Park Row station on the BMT elevated lines were above for easy transfers.

In addition, the new, longer trains had center doors in each car, which were an unsafe distance from the platform edge. Movable platform extensions were installed to fill the gap similar to the ones at the South Ferry, Brooklyn Bridge – City Hall (which no longer has gap fillers), Times Square, and 14th Street – Union Square stations, which had a similar problem.

In the years after the line's construction, increased subway ridership led to longer trains, and thus longer platforms, in the 1940s and early 1950s.[2] City Hall station, built on a tight curve, would have been difficult to lengthen, and it was also quite close to the far busier Brooklyn Bridge station.

View of the station in the early 1900s


At the time of the opening, President A. E. Orr of the Rapid Transit Board requested that all New Yorkers join in the celebration by the blowing whistles and ringing bells.[15] At street level, in the pavement in front of City Hall, a plaque can still be seen commemorating groundbreaking for the subway in 1900.[16]

More than 15,000 people were issued passes for the first series of rides from the platform. At precisely 2:35 pm, the first subway train departed from City Hall station with Mayor McClellan at the controls. The event was so heavily attended that police Commissioner McAdoo said every policeman in the city was on duty all day and far into the night.[14]


This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.