Is It Legal to Ride the 6 Train Through the Abandoned City Hall Station?
Consult any subway map printed in the last 69 years and it will tell you the 6 train dead-ends at Manhattan's Brooklyn Bridge Station. An older map would show the train's original track--the one it still uses everyday--loops through the now abandoned City Hall station before ending up on the north-bound side of the track and heading back to the Bronx.
New York Municipal Archives City Hall Station in its heyday
When it was opened in October, 1904, City Hall station, with its intricate skylights and Guastavino tile arched ceiling (just like the whispering gallery in Grand Central Station), was the jewel of the subway system. It wasn't used nearly as much as the nearby Brooklyn Bridge station, though, so in December, 1945, the station was pulled out of commission.
Today, it's technically possible to stay on the 6 train at Brooklyn Bridge as it trundles through the ghost station and before shuttering to a stop at the uptown platform. We always thought it was perfectly legal, too, but our beliefs were shaken when we heard how one man's odyssey through the abandoned City Hall station dragged him through the Transit Adjudication Bureau's byzantine arbitration process too.
At Brooklyn Bridge station, Joshua Patchus remembers hearing the announcement informing anyone left on the train: "This is the last downtown stop on this train, the Next stop on this train is the Brooklyn Bridge/City Hall on the uptown platform. Not only is it unlawful but also dangerous to leave a moving train."
He and his buddy stayed on the train as it passed through City Hall station ("which is boring when it is not lit," he says). His problems began when, as the train headed back to Brooklyn Bridge's uptown platform, the pair were summoned over by two officers.
"Thinking they wanted us to report on something that happened, we agreed. Came off the train, they asked to see our IDs so they could 'Run them,' we handed our IDs," Patchus explains via email. "Next thing we know, they handed us the ticket for violating 1050.6(d)2, failure to adhere to a posted sign or announcement."
The problem is, Patchus and his friend didn't violate any posted sign or an announcement--They stayed on the train through the station. He was fairly confident that the officers were wrong, so vowed to fight the $50 ticket with the Transit Adjudication Bureau.
Patchus went to the T.A.B office in Brooklyn "a REALLY sad place" where says he was patted down, before waiting more than two hours to plead his case. He played them recordings of the train announcement itself and a recording of Patchus asking the train conductor if he was allowed to stay on the train... And two weeks later he got a letter: the court was siding with the officers, and upholding the citation.