Inside the ‘abandoned’ Old City Hall subway station
Articles, Blog

Inside the ‘abandoned’ Old City Hall subway station

August 31, 2019


(train wheels squealing) – [Concetta] You are standing
in City Hall Station, the old City Hall Station,
which opened to the public on October 27th, 1904 at 7 p.m., where 150,000 New Yorkers
showed up to ride the subway for the very first time. – [Polly] The chief
architects of the original subway system were George Heins and Christopher Grant LaFarge. They had been working on the Cathedral of St. John the Divine and they brought those kind of church
sensibilities downtown. – [Concetta] And then Heinz
and LaFarge really embraced this notion that came out
of the Chicago World’s Fair. It’s a notion called City Beautiful. The idea was, and it was
a hypothesis at the time, that if you built things
more aesthetically pleasing, you might, might appeal
to people’s better angels, and they might behave better. – [Polly] They designed and
decorated the first 28 stations, but this is the one
station where they were really able to design
it, and everything else was putting a skin on the
walls of these concrete boxes. But here we had an ability
to actually design. You can look at the curve of the platform and say that they really
amplified those curves everywhere. You have beautiful arches
when you came down the stairs into the station, and then
you have these incredible timbrel vaults that were created
by the Guastavino Company. – [Concetta] I think,
probably, the most iconic thing that people think about when they think about City Hall Station is these arches made by a family of Spanish immigrants called the Guastavinos. The Guastavino arches
were very, very popular for a couple of reasons,
not least of which is they are incredibly fire-retardant because they are made of ceramic tile. If you look at this layered tile approach, what happens is what
would be not very strong if it were just one or two layers of tile becomes actually as strong
as reinforced concrete. – [Polly] This was a station
that was lit by daylight, and that was true of most of
the first original subway line. It’s very, very shallow, so we
could light it with daylight. In City Hall Station, the
skylights used this amazing glass called Luxfer Prism
glass, and it was designed so that as the daylight shone through it, it would amplify the light so that it could fill up more space. The station closed
December the 31st, 1945. By the ’40s there were so many more people living in the city and so
many more people riding, we had to create longer trains. So original subway trains
were five cars long, but by the ’40s, they were 10 cars long, and so we just couldn’t fit trains on this looped platform. (train wheels squealing) (light piano music)

1 Comment

  • Reply Coolcatgames August 23, 2019 at 11:32 pm

    Love it

  • Leave a Reply