Chicago – February 2019 – Union Station Architectural Tour

Back in Chicago for more architecture tours starting with the Union Station.





We passed by the symmetrical cool train shed and post office in the distance on the way.

Chicago was for more than 100 years mail order capital of the world with Sears, Montgomery Wards and others shipping products around the country. With all that business, the post office was massive. It is now being converted to condo’s and offices.





The entrance along Canal Street are graced with this massive colonnade the entire length.





The exterior doors and the surrounding ironwork.





Once inside, a quick look back at where we just came from reveals a grand entrance.





The Amtrak Metropolitan Lounge – AKA – The Pennsylvania Room, from the days of the Pennsylvania Railroad.





As you reach the Great Hall you are greeted with these massive Corinthian columns, and a scaffolding free skylight!





When we last visited for Open House Chicago in October the ceiling was covered with scaffolding. The temporary inconvenience has paid off – what a magnificent hall and ceiling.





Even the statues look brighter.




The detail on the tops of the columns are stunning.





A second view of a column as well as the period perfect lighting.





The south end of the hall.





With the renovation complete hopefully they tear down the hideous Amtrak kiosk that is so out of place.





The benches are original to the 1925 construction.





We were fortunate enough to get to visit the Burlington Room. In the early days it was the women’s lounge.





This creepy looking guy keeps watch over the room.





Our final stop was in the Legacy Club. It is awaiting some remodel for private event use.

The city of Chicago should be proud of their grand rail entrance now that the renovation has been completed.








Chicago – December 2018 – Elevated Architecture: Downtown ‘El’ Train

Our final tour of this visit was one I was looking forward to – a tour of architecture of and from the El train. The tour would take us into a number of El stations, as well as checking out some of Chicago’s finest architecture from a view most don’t see – 20 feet up from the El platforms.

We made our way to our first station in the pouring rain. The group of 9 people were more than happy when we arrived at the Washington and Wabash Station. Rebuilt and opened just a year ago, this station is sometimes referred to as the Millennium Station as it is located just a block from the park (but to any Chicagoan it will always be Washington/Wabash).

The canopy is made of steel and glass, with waves that are to evoke the feeling of nearby Lake Michigan.





As you enter the station you are greeting by a significant amount of artwork.





A major portion of the tour was focused on the nearby buildings. We had seen the Sullivan Center previously, but on this tour we had the mix of the canopy of the station with the classic lines of the building.





This row of 5 floor buildings are survivors from the 1800s, and are classic buildings. All they need is someone to come along with $40-50 million to purchase and rehab them (perhaps into boutique hotels!)





We made our way clockwise around the loop to the stations at State and Van Buren, aka the Harold Washington Library Station.

While the station is a fairly typical El station, it has great views of the Fisher Building and the Monodnock Building.

The Fisher Building is an 1896 Daniel Burnham masterpiece. As with many buildings it was built in two phases. Note the bay windows on the portion closest to the camera, then a flat face just beyond that.





The building’s terracotta has numerous sculptures featuring fish and crabs, as well as mythical creatures.





The northbound view of Dearborn Street with the Monodnock on the left and the Standard Club on the right.





The rain and the Monodnock gave a basic light added character.





We had the good fortune of having the CTA Holiday Train roll through the station as we were checking out the sights. A Chicago tradition since 1992, the train is decorated by volunteers and corporate sponsor.

Prior to Christmas they will run open air flatbed cars with Santa on them (check out the blog posting on the CTA Skokie Repair shop for more details as it was being prepared when we were there in October).









Throughout our tour the CTA employees were more than helpful, holding the train briefly while we boarded en mass or letting us through the turnstiles without addition payment to check out the stations.

I am certain to them it is just a job, but how cool would it be to drive an El train around all day.





The Quincy Station was the highlight of the tour. It was opened in 1897 and is essentially the same as the day it opened (with a few additional safety features).





They even have a couple of the original (unused) fare boxes mounted on the wall





It is the only station in the system that does not have advertising, rather they have period correct ads from the early days of the station.

Interestingly the ad on the left for the South Shore could still be valid, as that commuter rail still runs down into Indiana.





The platform maintains the same look. Quite the contrast to the skyscrapers in the background (including the 1400′ high Willis/Sears Tower directly behind the platform).





Again the lighting adds to the overall look.





We continued around the loop, crossing Randolph Street past the Palace Theater.





We made a turn to the west at the northwest corner of the loop, giving a great view of the wood planking for the tracks as well as one of the control stations.





Our final stop was at the Clinton Station in the West Loop. With the recent construction of very tall buildings, and the rain, the views were diminished this day, but it still gave some great symmetry shots.





This station is next to Union Station. The building in the background was once a large warehouse but has been re purposed to condo’s.





The view back towards the loop. It is interesting how this 100+ year old transportation still works, skirting past the massive skyscrapers.





We were at a Metra Commuter Rail station and had the good fortune of seeing their Holiday Train as well! Talk about good luck (even with the pouring rain).

As always our volunteer docent was knowledgeable and personable. With so many tacky tourist hop on hop off bus type businesses in large American cities, the non profit, mostly volunteer Chicago Architecture Foundation is a real treasure. We are looking forward to returning for more tours.







Chicago – October 2018 – Open House Chicago Special Tours

We were fortunate enough to get tickets to two Open House Special Tours.

Our first tour was of the CTA El Train Repair Shops in Skokie. Directions to our tour was to go to the Howard Street Station on the Red Line and gather on the far end of the platform.

2018 10 13 10 Chicago Open House.jpg

 

For this Saturday morning the platform was jammed with many people not used to taking the train, as they were in town for the University of Nebraska game against Northwestern in Evanston. To the normal commuter seeing a 1922 El Car come rolling into the station would be a surprise, but to this large out of town crowd it was stunning.

2018 10 13 15 Chicago Open House.jpg

 

One of the volunteers was dressed in a period uniform.

2018 10 13 20 Chicago Open House.jpg

 

While others had their safety vests on. All of the vintage cars are maintained by volunteers – many retired CTA workers.

2018 10 13 136 Chicago Open House.jpg

 

The passengers were excited…

2018 10 13 26 Chicago Open House.jpg

 

As we arrived at the yard we were greeted by other vintage cars awaiting restoration, as well as the revenue generating current cars.

2018 10 13 30 Chicago Open House.jpg

 

The 400 series cars really stand out against the modern cars in the yard.

2018 10 13 37 Chicago Open House.jpg

 

But it was time to tour the shop.

2018 10 13 79 Chicago Open House.jpg

 

Our tour guide was the manager of the facility.

2018 10 13 41 Chicago Open House.jpg

 

The shop.

2018 10 13 40 Chicago Open House.jpg

 

There were El cars in various states of repair.

2018 10 13 42 Chicago Open House.jpg

 

 

This station refurbishes the wheels.

2018 10 13 43 Chicago Open House.jpg

 

While another lifts the entire car for easy access.

2018 10 13 49 Chicago Open House.jpg

 

 

They also have some bays with pits to get underneath the cars.

2018 10 13 54 Chicago Open House.jpg

 

A great Chicago tradition is the Holiday Train. Started in 1992, the Holiday Train is a labor of love for the CTA employees who volunteer to work on the cars, as well as the public. During the holiday season the Holiday Train visits every El station on every line, usually taking food baskets to local organizations.

2018 10 13 125 Chicago Open House.jpg

 

2018 10 13 120 Chicago Open House.jpg

 

2018 10 13 122 Chicago Open House.jpg

 

2018 10 13 57 Chicago Open House.jpg

 

Another vintage car along ithe snow removal engine (minus the blower)

2018 10 13 58 Chicago Open House.jpg

 

The El Cars have springs and shocks like a regular car, just much larger.

2018 10 13 63 Chicago Open House.jpg

 

An axle and wheels.

2018 10 13 101 Chicago Open House.jpg

 

A pile of wheels waiting on refurbishing.

2018 10 13 69 Chicago Open House.jpg

 

A collection of contact shoes that connect the train to the third rail to provide power to the engines.

2018 10 13 74 Chicago Open House.jpg

 

A series of trucks ready to go. After this we headed back to our vintage car and returned to Howard Street Station.

2018 10 13 103 Chicago Open House.jpg

 

 

Our second tour of the day was the Chicago Tribune Printing Facility

The Chicago Tribune Freedom Center is a printing and inserting facility located along the Chicago River. Built in 1981, it was located along the river with the theory of bringing the paper products directly into the facility by boat, but the first shipment showed that with the bend in the river, the bridges and the building itself they couldn’t get to the dock. While the doors are still there they have never been used for their original purpose.

2018 10 13 141 Chicago Open House.jpg

 

Our guide was someone from the receiving department.

2018 10 13 155 Chicago Open House.jpg

 

 

Our tour of the 800,000 square foot facility started in the warehouse with massive 1 ton rolls of paper.

2018 10 13 147 Chicago Open House.jpg

 

2018 10 13 232 Chicago Open House.jpg

 

2018 10 13 154 Chicago Open House.jpg

 

2018 10 13 173 Chicago Open House.jpg

 

From this warehouse they are loaded onto carts that are electronically routed (via a wire in the floor – 1980s technology at it’s finest) to the appropriate press.

2018 10 13 184 Chicago Open House.jpg

 

There are a total of 10 massive presses that are used. The Tribune facility prints not only their own newspaper, but also for the regional suburban newspapers, the New York Times and Wall Street Journal for the Midwest, and even their local competitor the Chicago Sun Times.

2018 10 13 176 Chicago Open House.jpg

 

2018 10 13 182 Chicago Open House.jpg

 

2018 10 13 188 Chicago Open House.jpg

 

The tour group was very focused.

2018 10 13 212 Chicago Open House.jpg

 

 

The massive printing presses are very cool.

2018 10 13 190 Chicago Open House.jpg

 

2018 10 13 196 Chicago Open House.jpg

 

2018 10 13 200 Chicago Open House.jpg

 

2018 10 13 211 Chicago Open House.jpg

 

2018 10 13 215 Chicago Open House.jpg

 

2018 10 13 218 Chicago Open House.jpg

 

The Chicago Tribune Printing Facility was a great tour – one of the best we have done.

2018 10 13 235 Chicago Open House.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

Chicago – October 2018 – Open House Part 1

Our Chicago Open House weekend started on Friday, before the official event started on Saturday. We made our own tour of places that were open.

 

James Thompson Center – Designed by Helmut Jahn, the Thompson Center is a 17 story curved glass building housing many government offices. From the interior all 17 floors are visible in the impressive atrium.

2018 10 12 12 Chicago.jpg

 

2018 10 12 17 Chicago.jpg

 

On the plaza in front of the building is a sculpture from Jean Dubffet called Monument with Standing Beast. Standing at 29’ high, the sculpture weighs in at 20,000 pounds.

2018 10 12 18 Chicago.jpg

 

 

Cook County Office Building – A classical 12 story office building located in the government section of downtown Chicago, to me it is most famous for where the Blues Brotthers went to pay the property tax for the childrens home (and yes the Cook County Assessors office is located in this building).

The building has the classic Art Deco look on the interior.

2018 10 12 20 Chicago.jpg

 

2018 10 12 23 Chicago.jpg

 

Chicago Temple – The First United Methodist Church of Chicago was the first church to be founded in the city, even before it was a city, in 1831. In 1838 it moved to it’s current location at the corner of Washington and Clark.

In the early 1920s with downtown Chicago rapidly developing the church debated selling their valuable land and moving out to one of the neighborhoods. Eventually they decided on a novel approach, build a skyscraper with a church included, and in addition, put a chapel on the top. The result was a 568’ tall building with what is to this day the highest church from street level in the world.

2018 10 12 33 Chicago.jpg

 

The first level has a traditional church.

2018 10 12 42 Chicago.jpg

 

Known as the Sky Chapel, it was part of the original building but not fully completed until 1952 as a gift from the family of the Walgreen’s Drug Store founder.

To this day the church is self funded by the rents paid by other tenants in the building, allowing it to fully focus on serving the diverse community it serves.

2018 10 12 55 Chicago.jpg

 

2018 10 12 51 Chicago.jpg

 

2018 10 12 62 Chicago.jpg

2018 10 12 69 Chicago.jpg

 

Outside is some unique art.

2018 10 12 77 Chicago.jpg

 

 

Marshall Field’s (Macy’s) Tiffany Dome – With over 1.6 million pieces it is the largest Tiffany  mosaic in existence. Designed by Louis Tiffany in 1907, over 50 artisans worked on scaffolding for 18 months to complete this amazing masterpiece.

2018 10 12 81 Chicago.jpg

 

The Pedway hosts a collection of stained glass.

2018 10 12 82 Chicago.jpg

 

2018 10 12 85 Chicago.jpg

 

 

Some general scenes around the city.

2018 10 12 91 Chicago.jpg

 

A tourist boat on the Chicago River.

2018 10 12 107 Chicago.jpg

 

One of the lift bridge control buildings frame by a 60 floor building.

2018 10 12 109 Chicago.jpg

 

Classic Chicago – The Merchandise Mart with a Brown Line El train coming in.

2018 10 12 113 Chicago.jpg

 

Old street light and new skyscrapers.

2018 10 12 128 Chicago.jpg

 

 

Up Wells Street from the 10th floor of a parking garage.

2018 10 12 138 Chicago.jpg

 

A building along Madison Street.

2018 10 12 141 Chicago.jpg

 

 

Millennium Park

Cloud Gate is a public sculpture located in Millennium Park. While the artists inspiration was liquir mercury, it is commonly referred to as The Bean. It is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city.

2018 10 12 143 Chicago.jpg

 

The buildings along East Randolph Street.

2018 10 12 157 Chicago.jpg

 

Pritzker Pavilion – A Frank Gehry design, the pavilion is a band shell that hosts numerous events each year. For this mid October night it was quiet, but still stunning with it’s red lighting.

2018 10 12 161 Chicago.jpg

 

Art Institute of Chicago is one of the oldest and largest museums in the United States. From this part of the park, you get a great view of one of the modern additions along with the Michigan Avenue skyline.

2018 10 12 166 Chicago.jpg

tomorrow the official events starts.

 

 

Pittsburgh – October 2018 – Doors Open Part 3

Doors Open continues…

 

Smithfield Church – The church was completed in 1927, at the corner of Smithfield Street and Strawberry Way.

2018 10 06 535 Pittsburgh Doors Open Festival.jpg

 

 

The church was built by the German Evangelical Protestant Church, and has German sayings throughout.

2018 10 06 521 Pittsburgh Doors Open Festival.jpg

 

 

As with the other downtown churches, the Smithfield Church has an impressive organ.

2018 10 06 527 Pittsburgh Doors Open Festival.jpg

 

 

As well as the stained glass.

2018 10 06 507 Pittsburgh Doors Open Festival.jpg

 

2018 10 06 520 Pittsburgh Doors Open Festival.jpg

 

2018 10 06 526 Pittsburgh Doors Open Festival.jpg

 

 

 

The HYP Club – The Harvard, Yale, Princeton Club of Pittsburgh has a small 2 floor building surrounded by skyscrapers.

2018 10 06 599 Pittsburgh Doors Open Festival.jpg

 

 

The Alcoa Building towers over it’s neighbor.

2018 10 06 551 Pittsburgh Doors Open Festival.jpg

 

 

The interior itself was nice, but not noteworthy. We did have an enjoyable conversation with one of the hostesses, learning much about the club – which interesting is no longer restricted to just alumni of Harvard, Yale and Princeton.

2018 10 06 549 Pittsburgh Doors Open Festival.jpg

 

 

 

Pittsburgh Engineers Building – Daniel Burnham’s first Pittsburgh building was the 1899 Union Trust Company. Built in 1899 for Andrew Mellon and Henry Clay Frick, it was noteworthy for it’s safe.

2018 10 07 148 Pittsburgh Doors Open Festival.jpg

 

 

The bank left long ago, but the safe is still there.

2018 10 07 146 Pittsburgh Doors Open Festival.jpg

 

2018 10 07 151 Pittsburgh Doors Open Festival.jpg

 

2018 10 07 143 Pittsburgh Doors Open Festival.jpg

 

 

The Engineering Society of Pittsburgh has taken over the building, and has a club/restaurant that celebrates the engineering of Pittsburgh, with an emphasis on the bridges.

2018 10 07 152 Pittsburgh Doors Open Festival.jpg

 

 

 

William Penn Hotel – The William Penn Hotel, a classic old school hotel, was opened in 1916. Over the years it has hosted many famous people, including numerous presidents.

2018 10 06 556 Pittsburgh Doors Open Festival.jpg

 

 

Situated along Grant Street, it has long been the center of society in Pittsburgh.

2018 10 06 341 Pittsburgh Doors Open Festival.jpg

 

 

The main lobby.

2018 10 06 30 Pittsburgh Doors Open Festival.jpg

 

 

The lower level has the famous Speakeasy Bar, so named because of it’s reputation during prohibition.

2018 10 07 159 Pittsburgh Doors Open Festival.jpg

 

2018 10 07 161 Pittsburgh Doors Open Festival.jpg

 

2018 10 07 163 Pittsburgh Doors Open Festival.jpg

 

2018 10 07 166 Pittsburgh Doors Open Festival.jpg

 

 

The hotel has a collection of artifacts including Lawernce Welk’s first bubble machine (for those too young google or youtube Lawrence Welk)

2018 10 06 36 Pittsburgh Doors Open Festival.jpg

 

 

 

The Pennsylvanian –  While it was officially called Union Station, the major train station at the corner of Liberty and Grant was always more commonly known as Penn Station, as the only railroad it served was the Pennsylvania Railroad

2018 10 07 282 Pittsburgh Doors Open Festival.jpg

 

 

Designed by Daniel Burnham it went into service in 1901.

2018 10 07 214 Pittsburgh Doors Open Festival.jpg

 

 

As you approach the station you are greeted by a great rotunda that was once used by carriages arriving and departing.

2018 10 07 263 Pittsburgh Doors Open Festival.jpg

 

 

The ceiling of the rotunda is one of the master pieces of the city, and of Daniel Burnham’s career.

2018 10 07 264 Pittsburgh Doors Open Festival.jpg

 

 

The rotunda is worth a number of looks…

2018 10 07 278 Pittsburgh Doors Open Festival.jpg

 

2018 10 07 277 Pittsburgh Doors Open Festival.jpg

 

2018 10 07 273 Pittsburgh Doors Open Festival.jpg

 

2018 10 07 268 Pittsburgh Doors Open Festival.jpg

 

2018 10 07 259 Pittsburgh Doors Open Festival.jpg

 

2018 10 07 256 Pittsburgh Doors Open Festival.jpg

 

2018 10 07 261 Pittsburgh Doors Open Festival.jpg

 

 

Immediately inside is a smaller room that greeted passengers.

2018 10 07 249 Pittsburgh Doors Open Festival.jpg

 

2018 10 07 180 Pittsburgh Doors Open Festival.jpg

 

 

The Main Hall, with it’s high ceilings and skylights, continue to impress people today. After the buildings restoration in the 1980s to apartments, this hall has been used for functions like weddings and meetings.

2018 10 07 231 Pittsburgh Doors Open Festival.jpg

 

2018 10 07 218 Pittsburgh Doors Open Festival.jpg

 

2018 10 07 221 Pittsburgh Doors Open Festival.jpg

 

 

Original benches from the station era are still used in this hall.

2018 10 07 222 Pittsburgh Doors Open Festival.jpg

 

 

Detailed carvings are throughout.

2018 10 07 226 Pittsburgh Doors Open Festival.jpg

 

 

The skylights open up the lower level to natural lighting, despite the fact that the entire building rises another 10 floors around and above them.

2018 10 07 219 Pittsburgh Doors Open Festival.jpg

 

 

Another classic public clock.

2018 10 07 217 Pittsburgh Doors Open Festival.jpg

 

 

 

2018 10 07 224 Pittsburgh Doors Open Festival.jpg

 

2018 10 07 185 Pittsburgh Doors Open Festival.jpg

 

 

On this day they were also offering tours of one of the apartments.

From the 4th floor hallway you had a better look above the skylights at the higher floors of the building

2018 10 07 241 Pittsburgh Doors Open Festival.jpg

 

 

As with most of the other historic buildings in town, the Pennsylvanian has a great mailbox.

2018 10 07 248 Pittsburgh Doors Open Festival.jpg

 

Doors Open Pittsburgh is continued in part 4…

 

 

 

 

Pittsburgh – October 2018 – More Architecture

Having spent the weekend in the city for Doors Open Pittsburgh, we had additional time to check out the sights that weren’t officially part of the tour.

 

The Armstrong Tunnel. Built in 1927, there are longer tunnels in Pittsburgh, but none have a curve in them like the Armstrong.

There is great debate as to why the tunnels have a curve.

2018 10 05 4 Pittsburgh.jpg

 

 

South Side Slopes – An old church, an old bridge and new condo’s.

2018 10 06 1 Pittsburgh Doors Open Festival.jpg

 

 

The Warner – it was once a theater, then a food court, now a welfare office. But the sign is cool, with one of the newer skyscrapers as a backdrop.

2018 10 06 212 Pittsburgh Doors Open Festival.jpg

 

 

The famed Kaufmann’s clock – the store has been closed for some time now, but appears to be getting new life soon.

2018 10 06 262 Pittsburgh Doors Open Festival.jpg

 

 

Some classic cornices.

2018 10 06 270 Pittsburgh Doors Open Festival.jpg

 

 

A streetlight, the US Steel (aka UPMC) building with interesting lighting after a thunderstorm.

2018 10 06 338 Pittsburgh Doors Open Festival.jpg

 

 

Even the smaller old buildings on Liberty Avenue have excellent detail up high.

2018 10 06 273 Pittsburgh Doors Open Festival.jpg

 

 

From Mt Washington the view of the Cathedral of Learning at Pitt looks quite small. In reality it is 500′ high, but partially hidden behind the hill.

2018 10 06 561 Pittsburgh Doors Open Festival.jpg

 

 

Another vintage downtown building.

2018 10 06 276 Pittsburgh Doors Open Festival.jpg

 

 

Not to be outdone by Kaufmann’s, Gimbels had a cool clock too.

2018 10 06 518 Pittsburgh Doors Open Festival.jpg

 

 

Heinz Field just after a University of Pittsburgh game ended.

2018 10 06 567 Pittsburgh Doors Open Festival.jpg

 

 

Carnegie Science Center on the north side with one of the subway trains in the background.

2018 10 06 573 Pittsburgh Doors Open Festival.jpg

 

 

A view from Mt Washington through downtown buildings up the Allegheny River.

2018 10 06 584 Pittsburgh Doors Open Festival.jpg

 

 

It has been almost 40 years since Station Square restored the old rail station and yards and it is still going strong.

2018 10 06 616 Pittsburgh Doors Open Festival.jpg

 

 

Sun setting on the Mon.

2018 10 06 637 Pittsburgh Doors Open Festival.jpg

 

 

Replica Christopher Columbus ships have been making their way up the Ohio River all summer, and are now in Pittsburgh – as this panorama shows the Nina and Pinta.

2018 10 06 655 Pittsburgh Doors Open Festival.jpg

 

 

Four Gateway Center.

2018 10 07 3 Pittsburgh Doors Open Festival.jpg

 

 

Gateway Center with a purple fountain. (must have been Raven’s fans sneaking the water coloring in).

2018 10 07 6 Pittsburgh Doors Open Festival.jpg

 

 

The 1764 Ft Pitt Blockhouse, the 1960 Ft Pitt Bridge and Mount Washington in the background.

2018 10 07 18 Pittsburgh Doors Open Festival.jpg

 

 

A major rowing competition was occurring on this early Sunday morning as the first of the boat tailgaters were arriving for a Steelers game.

2018 10 07 37 Pittsburgh Doors Open Festival.jpg

 

 

An amazing wildlife photo from the Allegeheny River.

2018 10 07 40 Pittsburgh Doors Open Festival.jpg

 

 

The Point Fountain from a different perspective with the apartments on Mt Washington in the background.

2018 10 07 45 Pittsburgh Doors Open Festival.jpg

 

 

The very cool Duquesne Incline.

2018 10 07 53 Pittsburgh Doors Open Festival.jpg

 

 

Along the Mon Wharf.

2018 10 07 70 Pittsburgh Doors Open Festival.jpg

 

 

The Gateway Clipper crews getting ready for that Steelers crowd.

2018 10 07 75 Pittsburgh Doors Open Festival.jpg

 

 

Pittsburgh is the city of bridges.

2018 10 07 81 Pittsburgh Doors Open Festival.jpg

 

 

Finally a shot of PPG Place with one of the more architecturally interesting parking garages.

2018 10 07 118 Pittsburgh Doors Open Festival.jpg

 

 

 

 

New York City – September 2018 – Abandoned Subway Station Tour

According to the New York MTA documentation there are 472 subway stations throughout the city. Over the years a few have been abandoned for various reasons.

Easily the most famous of those abandoned stations is the former City Hall station. Since 1945 it has sat unused in the loop at the end of the 6 train.

On rare occasions the New York Transmit Museum offers tours of this station. Tickets are hard to get and available to members only (I had a good friend who came through for me!)

We went to the current nearest station (also known as City Hall) and boarded a 6 train that went a short distance before stopping to let us off. The crowd was excited.

2018 09 26 196 New York City City Hall Subway Station Tour.jpg

 

 

The station itself was the masterpiece of the system when it opened on October 27, 1904. It was the first station to open on the first line.

2018 09 26 192 New York City City Hall Subway Station Tour.jpg

 

 

The station has a single platform that is curved. This curve eventually lead to the closing in 1945 as the newer cars were longer and made the gap between the cars and the station too wide.

2018 09 26 207 New York City City Hall Subway Station Tour.jpg

 

 

The arched ceilings and tile work make what the Transit Museum refers to as the ‘Jewel in the Crown’ of the entire subway system.

2018 09 26 217 New York City City Hall Subway Station Tour.jpg

 

 

As with all subway stations the station name is a mosaic. While plain compared to some the tile work around it adds to the overall feel of the station.

2018 09 26 230 New York City City Hall Subway Station Tour.jpg

 

 

There are numerous skylights in the station. We had a night time visit so the ambient light from outside was minimal, but it too added to the aura of the tour.

2018 09 26 226 New York City City Hall Subway Station Tour.jpg

 

 

The mezzanine shown here (and the featured image of this posting) is amazing.

2018 09 26 219 New York City City Hall Subway Station Tour.jpg

 

 

The huge mosaic at the top is also a skylight, although for this tour there was no light from above.

2018 09 26 220 New York City City Hall Subway Station Tour.jpg

 

 

Back down on the platform the simple, yet elegant chandeliers provided dim lighting that accented the arched ceilings.

2018 09 26 242 New York City City Hall Subway Station Tour.jpg

 

 

The station is nearly intact, but some of the skylights need some work. Still the view of the ceilings and the curved platform is stunning.

2018 09 26 244 New York City City Hall Subway Station Tour.jpg

 

 

The primary station sign from the platform to the mezzanine level. Imagine the excitement in 1904 arriving and seeing this entrance to the station.

2018 09 26 251 New York City City Hall Subway Station Tour.jpg

 

 

There were 40 people on the tour so it was tough not having people in the photo (or getting into other people’s photos).

2018 09 26 257 New York City City Hall Subway Station Tour.jpg

 

 

A view from the mezzanine to the platform.

2018 09 26 275 New York City City Hall Subway Station Tour.jpg

 

 

A closeup of the platform ceiling and chandeliers. While we were there the 6 trains kept slowly rolling through their loop, their wheels screeching loudly on the sharp curve.

One not so hidden secret for the non paying tourists is to stay on the 6 train at the end and check out the station as the train makes it’s loop. Supposedly conductors will sometime allow this – the guides say do it on a bright sunny day so there is some light from the skylights.

2018 09 26 290 New York City City Hall Subway Station Tour.jpg

 

 

There are a few plaques commemorating the opening of the subway system.

2018 09 26 288 New York City City Hall Subway Station Tour.jpg

 

 

A close up view of the arched ceiling tile work.

2018 09 26 293 New York City City Hall Subway Station Tour.jpg

 

 

A close up view of the City Hall station sign mosaic and a skylight.

2018 09 26 296 New York City City Hall Subway Station Tour.jpg

 

 

The view down the platform into the tunnel with an oncoming train.

2018 09 26 306 New York City City Hall Subway Station Tour.jpg

 

 

Clearly I couldn’t get enough shots of the curved platform and ceiling. The style is known as a Guastavino Vault – the tile arch system using self supported arches and architectural vaults with interlocking terracotta tiles and layers of mortar.

It is named for Rafael Guastavino who immigrated to New York in 1881 from Barcelona. His work, and others in this style grace numerous buildings throughout New York City and beyond, including the Ellis Island Great Hall.

2018 09 26 316 New York City City Hall Subway Station Tour.jpg

 

 

Another view of a train rolling through with the arches and skylights (darkened). With no passengers they looked like ghost trains.

2018 09 26 328 New York City City Hall Subway Station Tour.jpg

 

 

One last look at the mezzanine level.

2018 09 26 334 New York City City Hall Subway Station Tour.jpg

 

 

And it was time to leave. Even this was amusing as our tour was holding up the entire 6 line as they stopped, set out a ramp to cover the gap and herded us on as fast as possible, with the people not wanting to leave.

Eventually we relented, and we left this fabulous place.

I feel fortunate to have had this opportunity – thanks to a good friend and the Transit Museum.

2018 09 26 325 New York City City Hall Subway Station Tour.jpg