new york secrets
by Anna Balkrishna and Erin O’Hara
Photo: Ed Yourdon (via Flickr)
Hidden Subway Station Beneath City Hall
The New York City subway has long been the country's most comprehensive transportation system, and now it even lets you travel back in time. The majestic subway station underneath City Hall has been inactive for nearly 69 years, closing for good on December 31, 1945. The station is an underground architectural marvel, with tall arched ceilings covered in antique tile and glass skylights that flood the space with natural light from above. It's been sealed like a time capsule since then, but you can see it with your own eyes (from inside a subway car). Here's how: take the 6 train to the Brooklyn Bridge/City Hall station (the last stop, if you're heading south), but don't get off. The train will turn around the City Hall station loop, which will give you a one-of-a-kind view of the otherwise unreachable location. Until recently, passengers were supposed to exit the train at the Brooklyn Bridge/City Hall station before it made the turnaround, and only attendees of special events or tours sponsored by the MTA and New York City Transit Museum (or anyone who managed to linger on the train) could see this gem. On that note, there is one reason to take the official tour: the lights in the station are turned on. When the 6 train rolls through during its U-turn, the space isn't always illuminated.
Another underground masterpiece is even more secretive: the Underbelly Project is a clandestine "gallery" consisting of street art installed on the walls of an abandoned subway station, the whereabouts of which had been unknown to everyone but the artists and the attendees of the gallery's one and only open night (which happened over the summer of 2010). Though rumors have circulated that the installation is located in a never-used South 4th Street stop in Williamsburg, don't try to see for yourself—not only is it dark and dangerous, but it is also illegal; there have been at least 20 arrests of trespassers trying to visit the space. —Erin O'Hara