I had read it in a few places. Yahoo.com has an article entitled, "The 'Secret' Subway Stop" that uses phrases like, "hidden deep under New York" and ". . . if you know how to find it". Weekly World News has an article that says a visit to this secret stop makes "you literally go back in time", and is accompanied by gorgeous pictures of an ornate and glowing gold station of the past. Other sites say that the ghost of a former train conductor from 1904, Fritz Barnkopf, wanders through the train when it passes through the station, asking passengers for a secret password ("Teddy Roosevelt" in case you encounter the walking deceased). Now, I'm a sucker for a ghost story and I'm more of a sucker for solving a mystery, so you'd better bet that I, and my brave cohort Hiatt, took a journey on the 6 train to seek out the mysterious unused City Hall subway station.
First off, I did my research. According to all of the articles, all we needed to do to encounter this station of the past was to take the 6 train to the last stop (Brooklyn Bridge) and stay on the train. Basically, the train circles back to head uptown and the formerly functional City Hall station is located somewhere in that loop. Sounded easy enough. Hiatt and I boarded the train and headed south, cameras poised in anticipation of ghosts and adventure. Like the geeky tourists that we were emulating, we even asked a stranger to take a picture of us (well, I asked him to take three - a girl's gotta look good in a pic). Soon, the train reached its southernmost station and an electronic voice kindly asked us all to get off the train. We stayed, feeling like naughty little kids and giggled while we paced around the train. Secret subway stop, here we come!!!! I must admit, I was a smidge creeped out. There's nothing weirder than an empty subway car. Particularly one that's taking you into the depths of the unknown, an unknown that's apparently patrolled by a dead train conductor. The doors closed, the train started forward, and we pressed our faces and cameras to the windows on the side of the train. Dark. The train moved on. More dark. Then, slowly, the dark walls moved away to reveal . . .
A dirty old barely visible run-of-the-mill subway tunnel. Okay . . . maybe it would get better. Between the florescent lights inside the car, the darkness outside the car, and the glare from the windows, I barely saw a grey "City Hall" pass by my window. "Oh! We're here! I think . . ." I squinted to try to see more. We crept along and smooshed our noses against the window at the front of the car and looked toward a growing light at the end of the tunnel. Suddenly, a dark shadow crossed our line of vision and we simultaneously squealed and jumped backward. The ghost! Yeah . . . no. Just the conductor wondering why two ridiculous young women decided to stay on the train after he had told them to get off. We exhaled and focused on the growing light. This must be the secret stop. It grew and grew, and . . . we saw . . . Brooklyn Bridge. Again. And a lot of grumpy commuters. Wah wah. REALLY? That was it!?!?!? The much acclaimed "secret" subway stop that was the subject of so many articles was a dusty old ledge and a barely visible sign? Boo!!! FAIL!!! We joined the disgruntled strap hangers in body and in spirit and settled in for the ride back to Midtown. I looked at Hiatt, "Well, nothing ventured, nothing gained, right?". She rifled through her ginormous purple bag for chapstick and scrutinized a pair of too-tight jeans in front of us. "Right. Let's go get some sush". Leaving: adventure. Next stop: reality. Moral of the story: Don't believe everything you read on the internet. Well, that is except what you read here.