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How to visit one of America's coolest abandoned places

The Active Times logo The Active Times 9/25/2020 Aaliyah Gibson
a large brick building with a metal frame: Abandoned Places in New York: City Hall Subway Station © Felix Lipov/Shutterstock Abandoned Places in New York: City Hall Subway Station

New York is a state rich with history. From some of the oldest hotels in the nation to some of the most beautiful state parks, New York has plenty to offer. But deep below the ground lies another piece of history. Abandoned more than 70 years ago, the City Hall subway station in New York City is one of America's coolest abandoned places.

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New York has the oldest subway system in North America, which dates back to 1904 when City Hall station loaded its first round of passengers. Nearly 15,000 New Yorkers visited the new station and paid the nickel fare to ride the first subway outside of Europe. City dwellers marveled at the newest invention, and it quickly became a bustling hub. But most spectacular to commuters was the stop’s beautiful design. In the mornings, sunlight shined through skylights, while gilded chandeliers illuminated the night.

By the 1940s, an overflow of commuters at the City Hall train stop forced officials to expand the five-car train system into a 10-car system. But the new, longer train cars could not fit into the sharp loop of the track, causing a large gap between the cars and the edge of the platform. This issue, paired with commuters opting to walk to and from the nearby Brooklyn Bridge station instead, ultimately led to the City Hall station being shut down on Dec. 31, 1945. The station was left abandoned, and stairways to enter and exit the stop were sealed.

In the 70-plus years that have followed, the City Hall station has become a breathtaking stop for New York travelers. The chandeliers hung decades ago are still dangling from the ceilings and the skylights are still shining. The New York Transit Museum offers exclusive tours of the station for explorers wanting to take a step back in the state’s history. The City Hall subway station is just one of the most beautiful abandoned places on the planet.

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