Friday, February 27, 2009

Old City Hall

Now and then, the Transit Museum sponsors a tour of old City Hall station. That hallowed, buried place. ForgottenNY visited a while back and I just went in December.



You wait on the platform at the current City Hall station and a train takes you into the loop, where the #6 turns around before heading back uptown.

The loop is where it's all happening. It's the backstage area, behind the curtain, where the wonder lies. You climb out on a wooden bridge and the train roars away, screaming around the curved track, leaving you behind in the semi-dark, in shadows lit by dusty chandeliers and bare bulbs that trace the City Hall arch like lights around an ingenue's dressing-room mirror.

You stand in the former waiting area, in the smell of chlorine, like an indoor swimming pool, while the guide gives his schpiel. They hand out earplugs because this may be the noisiest place in the entire subway system. Train on curved track is a nightmare of sound, all twisted metal and skull-ripping buzz saw.



In the intervening quiet, in the claustrum of that room, you may feel your bowels contract and the breath go out of your lungs. It's a catacomb feeling, a bit claustrophobic. You look up, at the sunlight coming through the stunning jewel of glass above, and exhale. This is what New York used to be.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Nice. So, the skylight that can be seen in the pictures, where does that protrude on the street above? Thanks.

Ken Mac said...

holy moly I gotta do this

MadTexter said...

I could kick myself for not taking time to see the old station while I was living in NYC. Just another case of 'you don't know what you've got 'till its gone.' Oh, well, maybe someday.

Darius D said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ChickenUnderwear said...

I took that tour, they let my (then) 7 year old "drive" the train from Brooklyn Bridge to the old station.

chartreuse velour said...

OT but this is sort of delicious:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/01/realestate/01walk.html?_r=1

Coffee Messiah said...

What a cool tour.....

A few years ago we saw a documentary on an area below the subway that homeless people were living, until they got caught and were kicked out.

It was an amazing documentary. Wish I could remember the name.

ShatteredMonocle said...

Coffee Messiah, you probably mean Dark Days.