5 Abandoned Stations of the New York Subway System

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Image: Pete Jelliffe

Worth St. station NY, abandoned.

New York City is a fascinating place, and that includes its underground too. With one of the oldest subway systems in the world, it is the site of abandoned stations, levels and platforms galore. Here we are taking an underground tour around those located beneath popular stations travelled by millions each day…

The New York City subway is one of the busiest metro systems in the world, trailing only Tokyo, Moscow and Seoul. Some of the active stations below or above the abandoned ones depicted here are some of the busiest on the system. Somewhat creepy to think that the subway’s secrets are so close to many, yet so far.


Image: Steve Duncan

1. 42nd Street – Lower Level

Rarely used and now abandoned: 42nd Street’s lower level. Don’t miss the graffiti on the left.

42nd Street Times Square is one of those super busy stations and exiting here is an adventure, with crowds, confusion and tourists asking for directions. In all the hustle and bustle, it is no wonder that few notice the secret of 42nd Street: an abandoned lower level platform on the southbound side located underneath the upper level downtown local track. The lower level was built with the rest of the station in 1932 but only used from 1959 to 1981 for special fare trains and rush hour E trains in the ‘70s.

It isn’t even clear why the lower level was built but speculations exist. According to the NYC Subway website, the following story is a popular one:

“The Independent subway was being built by the city to compete directly with routes owned by the IRT and BMT companies. The #7 crosstown IRT line terminates at Times Square; it is said that the bumper blocks of the #7 are directly against or very close to the eastern wall of the lower level of the 42nd St. IND station. The construction of the lower level therefore blocked any potential extension of the #7 line to the west side of Manhattan.”

Competition between the different companies running the various lines was a big issue from the beginning, between the following authorities in particular: Brooklyn Rapid Transit (BRT), Brooklyn-Manhattan Transit (BMT), Interborough Rapid Transit (IRT) and the Independent Subway System (IND). In 1953, the New York City Transit Authority was created and placed under its current control of the Metropolitan Transit Authority in 1968.

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Image: Board of Rapid Transit Railroad Commissioners

2. City Hall Station

The City Hall platform located in the loop with tiled arched ceilings but no tracks yet during construction in 1900.

City Hall is another station with an interesting history. Located at the southeastern end of Manhattan, the area was always the site of important buildings and offices like City Hall, the Post Office, Tweed Courthouse, the Woolworth Building and others. It is no surprise then that it was here where New York City’s whole subway project officially started: City Hall station was seen as a prestigious project, which is why it brought about extras like tiled arch ceilings, chandeliers and skylights for the station. After an official inauguration, construction started in 1900 and the station was completed in 1904.

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