Secret Brooklyn Bridge subway station revealed

Kalaisha sez, "A once abandoned (or, rather, off limits) subway station from 1908 in Brooklyn is now accessible to the public. And it is beautiful. Beautifully preserved too!"
The city closed the station in 1945, mostly because at its height only 600 people a day used it, and because the loop created an unsafe gap at the platform. In 1995 the city vowed to restore the site and turn it into a part of the transit museum, but those plans were scrapped years later.

The station is still not open to the public, but there's a trick you can use to see it for yourself. Until recently the MTA would force passengers to get off before the train made the loop, but now passengers are allowed to stay on. So the next time you reach the end of the line, keep going. And check out these amazing photos courtesy of John-Paul Palescandolo.

The Abandoned City Hall Subway Stop Now Visible To Tourists (PHOTOS) (Thanks, kalaisha!)

(Image: John-Paul Palescandolo and Eric Kazmire)


  1. The station in question, like the nearby Brooklyn Bridge station, is in Manhattan, not Brooklyn.

    And for a long time, it hasn’t usually been a problem to stay on the 6 train to look at the abandoned station. The MTA people often have better things to do than to argue with obvious tourists or curious New Yorkers.

  2. This station is still in Manhattan. You’ve been able to ride the end of the 6 for a while. Members of the Transit Museum can tour the station a few times a year as well.

  3. newsflash: hirohito surrendered !

    first off, yep, as the original article clearly states, this is in manhattan, not brooklyn, however i’ve been riding NYC subways my whole life, & i cant recall passengers ever being “forced off” the train, merely an announcement that you “should” get off :) you could see the station this way as far back as i can remember, nice pics but this is not really anything new…

    plenty of other info on this station on line, it is open sometimes for OHNY, etc, there are many videos on youtube etc

    more info here

    1. HA! That’s the first thing I thought of! I’m glad someone else watched TMNT3 enough to see that. Now I don’t feel so lame.

      No wait, I still do.

  4. That artwork would be covered with graffiti and posters six months after it opened to the public. Just saying.

    1. i agree, sadly. this place is gorgeous, and i actually gasped at some of the pics, but i believe it’s true that this place would be tagged and covered with advertising within months.

      1. Covered with advertising, maybe. Tagged with graffiti, probably not. The MTA is pretty quick in their cleanup efforts in most stations, especially the pretty ones.

  5. Are those beautiful windows in the ceiling open to the sky (and, thus, visible above ground)? Or are they now covered and backlit?

    1. Thorzdad — there may be some artificial lighting as well, but the skylights are real and functional. They’re visible from the surface in City Hall Park. You can peer down through them into the station, but the view isn’t great.

      There have been plans made and broken to reopen the station in some way for years. See this NYTimes article from 1997, for example:

      I seem to recall that post-9/11, all such plans were scrapped for “security” reasons. Maybe the MTA and NYPD are softening that stance again — here’s hoping.

  6. I recognised that picture immediately – it’s featured as one of the levels of the videogame ‘The Darkness’. Never actually realised it was a real place until now :)

  7. The NYC subway system is in such a state of neglect, it’s really quite shameful – of course, pretty much all infrastructure in the US, at all levels, is in a similar state.

    So, it’s great to see this. Something truly beautiful, and still in nice condition. If opened as an operational station, it surely would be ruined fairly quickly. A sad state of affairs. No one takes pride in anything. Although given the location, I do doubt it would see much actual use even now from anyone but people who want to see the station. Given that, it wouldn’t have the volume of traffic or significance to justify spending a lot on upkeep, unlike Grand Central – and even Grand Central is a mess in many ways.

    And yes, though I wasn’t around, I know it was much, much worse in the 70’s and 80’s. But it still isn’t good. Cities in other parts of the world manage to take pride in their infrastructure and keep it looking and working great – it’s a cultural problem that really only the US has.

  8. Are all New York underground stations made in the UnReal engine and then Photoshopped? Or is it just this one?

    1. All New York subway stops are Photoshopped and delivered directly to the high-resolution screens mounted on the “windows”. The doors will open and close and highly trained actors walk in and out of “stations” you are not actually going to. The station one is actually going to is actually a small set built specifically for that one use. It’s very Truman Show and it is the only logical explaination as to why the fares keep rising while service keeps falling.

      Also: Mmm, knish.

  9. My sister and I passed by this station back in 1985 when I visited her while she attended Pace University. She had heard about the mysterious station and the MTA conductor was all too willing to show us. I felt like Kolchak witnessing a scene from a “Night Stalker” episode. And not from the remade series, but from the Darren McGavin original.

    The conductor said it was a special and secret place and should word get out, it’s beauty would be endangered. Would this posting qualify as “word getting out?”

  10. 1- This is in Manhattan, not Brooklyn

    2- This isn’t a secret. For at least the past 10 years, the trains make this loop and NEVER ask people to get out.

    This is how fake news gets started :

    1- A gawker media site puts a flashy “SECRET” headline on something that is not secret. They do shit sensationalism as “reporting”.
    2- Blogs like the Huffington post see people linking to that, and want the traffic off those links too – so they recycle it.
    3- Blogs like boingboing think its neat, so they link to it

    Before you know it, everyone thinks a common everyday thing is a super secret new thing that has finally been unveiled. Um, no.

      1. Everyone has all kinds of stuff around them that people from out of town don’t know about, that’s why one lives in a certain place. This doesn’t make the Atlantic Avenue Subway or the Biggest Ball of Twine a secret.

        He’s not being a fun hater, he’s just saying the fact that it’s been known for at least 10 years and can be easily viewed doesn’t exactly make it a secret. The headline uses the word “secret” in ways it should not.

  11. All the stations used to be this beautiful.

    But then they let New Yorkers into them.

    We can’t have nice things any more.

  12. how weird that boingboing posts [dumps] a story online and makes no attempt to correct a clearly false article — in this case the first two words of the title.

    what other scientific posts are wrong and have been left up without the readers’ interest at heart?

  13. First thing that struck me: may be an unused station, but seems like someone at least has enough pride in this place to keep it clean and change the lightbulbs from time to time…

  14. Blog echo chamber and copymess

    The photo in this post looks very soft. The one on HuffPost is better, but here’s the best of them all:

    Notice in this photo copyright notices by the photog (2008), then again by the (1995-2005).

    My thinking is that if you’re going to feature a photo, link to the best possible rendition.

    Considering this photo was taken 2 years ago, it looks like this revealed secret is chugging its way slowly through the interwebs.

  15. The amazing thing about this photo is all light sources are color balanced. Is that sunlight? How can it be the same color as the bulbs? Neat trick. Doesn’t looked shopped.

  16. When I was a kid in the 80’s, they did a cursory sweep of the trains to make sure no one was on but we used to hang out in between cars and way back around the car to avoid being spotted. Also walked the tracks to get there by foot as well as Worth St. and 18th St. stations on the same line. Beautiful stations with beautiful graffiti that we photographed – I’ll have to see if I can dig those up and submiterate them…

  17. When I first moved to NYC I accidentally rode the 6 loop around since I didn’t know the six terminated in Manhattan. I remember looking out the windows and didn’t see any station. All I saw was a disused subway tunnel. Are there perhaps two tracks, one that goes through the station and one that doesn’t?

    Of course, I was fairly freaked out that I was going to wind up somewhere I wasn’t supposed to be, so I wasn’t inspecting the surroundings that much.

  18. Can I respectfully ask why this has been determined to be front-page news all of a sudden? My guess is that it’s related to the increased attention to the various abandoned stations in the aftermath of the Underbelly Project, but the MTA has allowed people to ride through the City Hall loop on the 6 train since early 2007. The Transit Museum also conducts tours for members and have been doing so for years!

    It’s a beautiful station, but it’s not a secret and hasn’t been hidden for decades.

  19. Neat? Yes. Secret? No.

    This station has been in the news and on websites for the last decade. Go on Flickr and search “City Hall Subway” and a plethora of photos will come up. The MTA does tours of this stop, and as noted, the 6 train loops through this station occasionally as well.

    The only difference is that the MTA is being more open to the idea of letting people in it. There are TONS of abandoned subway stations in NYC and none of them ever get the news.

  20. WAAAAAAAIIIITTTTTTT!!!!! About 3-4 weeks ago I looked up from my seat on an “uptown” 6 to see everyone getting off and the doors shut. Jumping up and banging on the windows a cop on the platform gave me the circling finger in the air. So I rode the 6 around the loop and..did…NOT see this station.

    I would have loved to….

    Why didn’t I see it?

  21. You can only see this station if your soul is in a state of Readiness.

    To become ready, you must drink 24 oz. of Nedick’s orange drink, two Nathan’s hot dogs, a Black & White cookie, and a knish.

  22. Even I knew about this station before. Those of you living a long way from NYC will be able to find a diagram of it.

    It’s on the standard wallpaper of a certain corporate sandwich franchise.

    1. oh mike mike mike…

      “even an idiot should be able to find somewhere to live down here” “aah!” *thud*

  23. I wish NYC would just allow new yorkers to see the entire history of the city. I was born and raised in brooklyn, and have yet to see my entire home. We New Yorkers move so quickly, we don’t even get to enjoy our home. This is a beautiful station that trains should pass through all the time.

  24. From 1992 to 1997 I worked at Kick Design in NYC for Kathy Chow & Eddie Jabbour. Around 1995 Eddie & Chow somehow arranged a private tour of this station. The train was emptied of riders at the station just before the loop. We Kicksters stayed on. The train continued on to the City Hall station & stopped. The doors opened & we set foot on the platform. We were told that we had three minutes to explore before we had to be on our way.
    The stair ways were sealed at the second landing. We could see soda-can-sized frosted glass disks in the ceiling that make up the skylight that is visible in the ground on the surface on in front of City Hall. The lighting was a little different. Darker. I took photos without flash.
    BTW Eddie Jabbour is the creator of the best NYC subway map & the really cool NYC subway map iPad app Kick Map.

Comments are closed.