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See A Glimpse Of NYC History For The Price Of A Subway Ride

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The original City Hall subway station was long considered the show piece of the system. And while it has long been closed to the public, there is one way New Yorkers can catch a glimpse for the price of a ride. NY1 Transit reporter Bobby Cuza filed the following report.

When the downtown number 6 train screeches into the Brooklyn Bridge-City Hall station, it is, to all appearances, the last stop. But in fact, those 6 trains continue on, making a long u-turn and magically reappearing on the uptown side just a couple minutes later.

Stay onboard, and through the dark, you can catch a glimpse of the original City Hall station, opened in 1904 and long considered the crown jewel of the system.

"It was never really clear if you were allowed to or not,” said Brian Weinberg, founder of www.railfanwindow.com. “You know, some conductors tried to kick you off. Others let you stay on. So yeah, it was hit or miss whether you could see it."

Brian Weinberg is a so-called rail fan, or train buff, who is encouraged by new announcements at the Brooklyn Bridge stop. Where they once said, "this is the last stop on this train, everyone please leave the train," they are being reprogrammed to say, "this is the last downtown stop on this train," and "the next stop on this train will be Brooklyn Bridge-City Hall on the uptown platform."

Transit officials confirm riders are allowed to stay onboard, as long as they do not ride between the cars. They say it actually speeds up service.

“With unauthorized people on the train, we have to get the police to extricate them, and that would basically back up the service and delay service,” said NYC transit General Superintendent Anthony Bartolotta. “So to provide better customer service, and to expedite service, we allow the customers to ride back there, but we do make safety announcements."

Service to the old City Hall station was discontinued in 1945. But in the 1990s, there was talk of reopening it as a branch of the New York Transit Museum. The idea was abandoned, though, when the Giuliani administration deemed the station too much of a security risk.

Starting last year, though, the station has been made available for special tours, arranged by the Transit Museum and others.

Though unlike the ride through the loop, reservations are required

-Bobby Cuza
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