10 Abandoned Subway Stations & Forgotten Platforms of New York City

bowery-abandoned-subway-platform-nyc-5 (Image: P. Perez; website: PGP Photography)

One of the biggest, oldest and busiest metros in the world, the New York City Subway is the granddaddy of American mass transit systems. Every day, over five million people trudge through its corridors – more than the entire population of Ireland. Its intersecting lines and platforms inspire loyalty, loathing… and maybe even fear. There’s no denying an empty station can be creepy at the best of times. When it’s been abandoned for the last few decades, well, let’s just say you wouldn’t catch us there anytime soon.

If you enjoyed our popular feature covering the disused stations and platforms of the London Underground, this foray into the murky world of New York City’s abandoned subway stations could be just the ticket.

18th Street

18th-street-subway-nyc-2 (Image: Steve Duncan/Undercity.org)

Like so many of its ilk, 18th Street in Manhattan was forced to close its doors through sheer lack of use. Opened 110 years ago at the start of an optimistic new century, it failed to keep pace with the phenomenal scale of development taking place throughout the city.

18th-street-subway-nyc (Image: Brian Merlis Collection)

By the end of World War Two, two other stations with longer platforms had already opened within spitting distance; leaving poor, unloved 18th street little choice but to shut up shop.

18th-street-subway-nyc-3 (Image: Steve Duncan/Undercity.org)

Although the station today is little more than a dusty, graffiti-strewn wreck, it was once a pioneering bit of work. A large glass ceiling allowed natural light to filter down into this subterranean world, while artfully constructed mosaics took pride of place on the walls.

18th-street-subway-nyc-4 (Image: Steve Duncan/Undercity.org)

Today, it remains familiar to riders of the Lexington-Avenue train, who occasionally glimpse sections of its dusty walls on their way home from work.

Chambers Street

chambers-street-abandoned-subway-nyc (Image: Untapped Cities by Michelle Young)

Chambers Street may be one of the most-accessible abandonments on Earth. Thanks to the J/M downtown trains continuing to use one platform on weekdays, it’s perfectly possible to see the disused ones as you’re stepping off the train. All you have to do is look over your shoulder and there they are!

chambers-street-abandoned-subway-nyc-2 (Image: Untapped Cities by Michelle Young)

First opened in 1913, Chambers Street was briefly one of the busier stations on the line. It couldn’t last. By 1931, the exit platforms were already being closed down and services transferred to a smaller area; a state of affairs that continued throughout the 20th century. Today, only one platform is really in use. The others have been left to rot in plain sight; an unusual spectacle of open decay, even in a city as rough around the edges as NYC.

chambers-street-abandoned-subway-nyc-3 (Image: Untapped Cities by Michelle Young)

That being said, the abandoned platforms are undoubtedly beautiful. As yet largely untouched by graffiti, they’re simply falling apart in slow-motion; dropping chunks of tiles, becoming buried under grime and slowly being eaten away by rust. Although you’d have to be a fool to consider crossing the line to see them properly, we can wholly recommend taking pictures from a distance. The strange sense of standing on the precipice of the modern world is unlike anything you’d normally experience on a busy NYC subway line.

South Ferry (Inner Loop)

south-ferry-inner-loop-abandoned-nyc-subway (Image: Inka via YouTube)

Although the whole of South Ferry was effectively abandoned in 2009, the outer loop of the station made a comeback following the devastation Hurricane Sandy wrought on its replacement. At the time, images circulated of the new station in a terrible state. But not far from where those pictures were taken lay somewhere far creepier and emptier.

south-ferry-inner-loop-abandoned-nyc-subway-2 (Image: Inka via YouTube)

First opened back in 1905, South Ferry’s Inner Loop closed in 1977 and has stood empty ever since. Although it shares the South Ferry name, the Inner Loop was effectively its own station, completely independent from the rest. The result is an abandoned subway station utterly cut off from the platform proper. Disused, yet still lit by electric lights and never too far from civilisation, South Ferry’s Inner Loop may be one of the spookiest spots in modern Manhattan.

Myrtle Avenue

Myrtle-Avenue-nyc-abandoned-subway (Image: mtainfo via YouTube)

Decommissioned after a flying junction was opened to the north of DeKalb Avenue, Myrtle Avenue is today a mere shell of a station lurking alongside a busier line. First opened in 1915, it served Brooklyn for over forty years before shutting down. Yet, like Court Street Station above, it has since found a second lease of life; this time as the home of an innovative local artwork.

Myrtle-Avenue-nyc-abandoned-subway-2 (Image: mtainfo via YouTube)

In 1980, artist Bill Brand installed his Masstransiscope in empty Myrtle Avenue. As the video below shows, the work is basically a gigantic zoetrope. Made up of hundreds of paintings positioned close together behind Myrtle Avenue’s old concrete pillars, it appears to anyone passing on a train like an unfolding animation. Rocket ships take off, curling lines spin and dance and transform into new shapes.

For those heading into Manhattan, it stands as a slice of colour on a rainy day; a flash of silliness on a grimy subway line.

Anderson–Jerome Avenues

anderson-jerome-avenues-abandoned-nyc-subway (Image: Inka via YouTube)

Anderson–Jerome Avenue hasn’t left much to look at. Way out in the Bronx, this once-proud station is now an eerie concrete wilderness. The sort of place you could reasonably expect to be mugged or murdered at the wrong times of day. It’s also ugly as sin. But the line that once served this desolate wasteland deserves to have its story heard.

anderson-jerome-avenues-abandoned-nyc-subway-2 (Image: Inka via YouTube)

To do that, we have to go back to 1867, and the city’s first elevated line. Built to solve the problem of transport in a rapidly expanding city, the 9th Avenue line was dogged by controversy from the moment it began operation. Horse car companies worried it would provide too much competition. When construction began, the 100 ft high section known as ‘suicide curve’ drew plenty of bad press. Although the line would ultimately operate for nearly a century, it was little-loved. It’s slow disintegration and death was a depressing sight to behold.

anderson-jerome-avenues-abandoned-nyc-subway-3 (Image: Inka via YouTube)

With the line itself gone by 1958, Anderson-Jerome had no choice but to shut down. Completely decommissioned, it now serves as a reminder of the city’s long-forgotten transport dreams.

Court Street

court-street-nyc-subway-disused (Image: Acps110, cc-sa-3.0)

We’re kind of cheating adding Court Street. Although the station is no longer in use and has been thoroughly decommissioned, it’s far from the barren, photogenic wasteland you secretly want it to be. Since summer 1976, Court Street has been the sight of the New York Transit Museum (NYTM); a small museum dedicated to the city’s travel history.

court-street-nyc-subway-disused-2 (Image: Jim Henderson, public domain)

Originally opened in 1936, it lasted a mere decade before under-use led to it closing its doors for the final time and sitting empty for thirty years. Now under care of the NYTM, it’s kept in fairly good lick, albeit hidden from view. You’ve probably seen it yourself at some point. Both versions of The Taking of Pelham One Two Three were shot there, as are plenty of other movies.

91st Street

91st-st-station-abandoned-nyc-subway (Image: Marie Curie via Untapped Cities)

Historically, 91st Street has represented something of a problem for NYC. When 86th and 96th were both completed, it was decided the walk between them was waaaay too long for the average commuter to handle. The trouble was that adding 91st Street made it way too close. For 50-odd years, Manhattan found itself with an utterly useless station; one that only became more useless when 96th Street extended its platform.

91st-st-station-abandoned-nyc-subway-2 (Image: Marie Curie via Untapped Cities)

As a result, 91st Street shut up shop for good in 1959; save for the waves of graffiti artists who ventured down in the 70s to tag the living heck out of the place. Or did it? As other websites have previously reported, evidence that the place was a regular haunt of ‘mole people’ lingered until the early 21st century. In 1999, a New York Times reporter made note of the insane amounts of debris lying on the abandoned platform and concluded a whole homeless community was likely living there.

91st-st-station-abandoned-nyc-subway-3 (Image: Marie Curie via Untapped Cities)

Today, 91st Street appears to be abandoned – for good this time. If you peer through the windows on your daily commute, you might just see some of its ancient graffiti flickering past.

Worth Street

worth-street-abandoned-subway-nyc (Image: Dock Ellis via Untapped Cities)

If nerve-shredding horror has an Earthly domain, that domain may just be Worth Street Station. First opened at the dawn of the 20th century, the station eventually closed its doors in 1962, following the lengthening of the Brooklyn Bridge-City Hall platform. Ever since then, it’s lain dormant. Dark, eerily lit, infested with graffiti and downright spooky.

worth-street-abandoned-subway-nyc-2 (Image: Dock Ellis via Untapped Cities)

Located underneath the plaza of the Federal Plaza Building, modern Worth Street is like a half-forgotten nightmare. The iconic tiles and lettering that once decorated this station are concealed by years of dust, grime and spray paint. The floor is used as a hangout for junkies and alcoholics. And the line itself stretches off into infinity; still regularly used by trains that shuffle past the platform as if afraid of stopping.

worth-street-abandoned-subway-nyc-3 (Image: Dock Ellis via Untapped Cities)

Dingy and unloved, Worth Street station may well be one of NYC’s most unsettling Easter eggs.

City Hall Loop

city-hall-station-new-york-2 (Image: dsankt/SleepyCity.net)

The granddaddy of disused stations, City Hall Loop is where everyone who wants to get a taste of abandoned NYC immediately heads. First opened in 1904, the station is nothing short of monumental. Chandeliers hang from the ceilings. Skylights let in shafts of light to illuminate dusty corners. The curved ceiling still retains its original, intricate mosaic of tiles.

city-hall-station-new-york-5 (Image: dsankt/SleepyCity.net)

Although it’s been closed for a lifetime (70 years and counting), City Hall Loop remains in incredible shape. Mainly this is due to its location. Despite the station itself being out of action, the line remains a hugely important one for trains wishing to curve round and make the run back uptown. As a result, trains continue to thunder through the empty station; with modern passengers given leave to stay onboard and watch this hidden marvel unfold around them. It’s a real-life Easter egg hidden deep in the throbbing heart of NYC; and you can visit it for free (well, the cost of a subway ticket at least).

Bowery Northbound Platform

bowery-abandoned-subway-platform-nyc (Image: Inka via YouTube)

Unlike most of the stations on our list, Bowery is far from closed-down. Every day, trains from at least one line (J) routinely stop at its single platform; with overcrowded Z-line trains also pulling up during rush hour. So why are we including it here? Simple: because this tiny, grotty Manhattan station wasn’t always a one-platform deal. Hidden away in the recesses of Bowery, you can still find the abandoned northbound platform that was closed off in 2004.

bowery-abandoned-subway-platform-nyc-4 (Image: Inka via YouTube)

First opened in 1913, Bowery used to be much bigger than it is now. For a long time, trains would thunder in from all over Manhattan; stopping off at one of the two dark and claustrophobic platforms. Elevated train and streetcar lines would also breeze through the station’s bowels – reminders of the greater world outside the subway. Then, one by one, they began to shut down. By the time the 21st century rolled round, Bowery was a station only half in use; a rarely-used cave underneath Manhattan. So in 2004, the original northbound platform was closed off for good.

bowery-abandoned-subway-platform-nyc-3 (Image: Inka via YouTube)

Today, Bowery’s other platform is little more than a cavern; a graffiti-mecca and shelter for the bored down-and-outs on Manhattan’s notorious skid row. It’s still accessible, but perhaps not the most-advisable place to hang around in after dark.

H/T: Scribol

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