7 secrets of the NYC subway revealed

Rob Grams Rob Grams

7 secrets of the NYC subway revealed

Like any extensive construction built piecemeal over time, the NYC subway has many secrets. The NYC subway is a constant work-in-progress, always changing and evolving, from a high-class experiment to mass transit as it is today and as it continues to change more secrets will doubtlessly be revealed.

Here are 10 of the biggest mysteries and secrets of this massive enigmatic system. Enjoy.

1. The Underbelly Project

The idea was to create an underground gallery for street artists. PAC and Workhorse (founders of the project) invited 100 street artists to create work overnight in a 6-track station of the IND line that was never opened. Over the course of a year (2009 – 2010) artists were secretly escorted into the station to leave their mark.

Nobody knows whether the art still exist, but it’s believed that the MTA has sealed off the station and it has remained relatively untouched.


2. Masstransiscope in the Abandoned Myrtle Ave Subway Station

Regularly users of the B or Q train from DeKalb Avenue to Manhattan probably already know the Masstransiscope Subway Mural. Created by artist Bill Brand in 1980, it is located in the abandoned Myrtle Ave station and works like a giant zoetrope. The piece was restored from vandalism in 2008 and 2013.

3. Knickerbocker Hotel Entrance in Times Square Subway

At the southeast corner of 42nd Street and Broadway lies the famed Knickerbocker hotel. But what few know is that below the aforementioned hotel, on the subway platform, is a door brandishing the hotels name. In the heyday of the knickerbocker this door was used by patrons of the hotel to access the lowest levels of the hotels bars and restaurants. In the 20’s the hotel closed down and was used as everything from showrooms to “”Newsweek’s” official headquarters before being reopened in 2015 as a hotel.

4. The Signal Learning Center at the 14th Street Station

At the 14th Street A/C/E station you may notice something odd… no, not the funny “Life Underground” sculptures by Tom Otterness, the MTA Signal Learning School!
The official name of the school is the Charles E. Morehouse Signals Learning Center, and according to a nearby plaque, Charles “exemplified the commitment to excellence that is the trademark of maintenance of way-signals” from 1953-2002.

5. The Fake Townhouse That Hides a Ventilation Shaft for the Subway

The next time you’re on Brooklyn Heights take a detour onto Joralemon Street. The most perceptive of you will notice that there’s something wrong with one of the brownstones. Number 58 has completely blacked out windows… and as if that weren’t strange enough nobody seems to go in or come out…

Well don’t panic, house number 58 is not a house at all. It is a hidden subway ventilator and  emergency exit. Sneaky… very sneaky.

6. The Decommissioned City Hall Subway Station

The most ornate of all of NYC’s abandoned subway stations is without a doubt the decommissioned City Hall subway station. Sadly is was decommissioned in 1945  because curvature of the platform could not accommodate the more modern longer trains without extensive renovations. In it’s day the station was the crown-jewel of the NYC subway system, it displayed a level of detail and beauty unique among it’s peers: stained glass, Roman brick, tiled vaults, arches and brass chandeliers.  If stay on the 6 train after the last stop at Brooklyn Bridge and if the old station is lighted, you can catch a glimpse of the platform… or you could just become a member of the MTA Transit Museum.

7. Why do the conductors point up when the train is stopped?

Conductors are pointing at the conductor’s indication board, a zebra-striped sign. If the sign is in front of the conductors window, it means that the entire train is on the platform. It is required procedure to point to it the board at every station before they open the doors to is a platform there for all the exiting passengers.

Featured image source [flakom]

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