Photograph: Jonathan ApreaBushwick Ave–Aberdeen St (Bushwick Ave between Aberdeen St and DeSales Pl, Bushwick, Brooklyn)Plenty of subways are accessed via odd locations (the sole entrance to the Clark Street stop in Brooklyn Heights is inside the St. George Hotel building), but this Bushwick L stop is likely the only one you’ll find within a car dealership. (The station came first: It opened in 1928.) The entryway is a small, plain structure, but you’ll find more decorative details—including colorful tiles—inside the station itself, particularly on the Manhattan- and Brooklyn-bound platforms.
Photograph: Jonathan ApreaColorful tile work in the Bushwick Ave–Aberdeen St station.
Photograph: Jonathan ApreaNinth Ave (39th St and Ninth Ave, Borough Park, Brooklyn)During his 36-year tenure as the chief architect of the subways, Squire Vickers designed more than 300 stations, including busy hubs such as Court Square in Queens and West 4th Street. But this bi-level Borough Park stop on the D line is one of the best examples of his work, designed in the Arts and Crafts style with an above-ground control house and colorful ceramic tiles. Trains once traveled on both tracks, but the one on the lower level was discontinued in 1975. Fans of goofy action movies from the mid-’80s may recognize it from Crocodile Dundee: The sequence that was meant to take place at the Columbus Circle station was actually filmed here.
Photograph: Jonathan ApreaTiles at the Ninth Ave station in Brooklyn.
Photograph: Anna Simonak190th St (W 190th St at Fort Washington Ave)Opened in 1932, this subway station on the A line is especially beautiful—it’s perched high atop a tree-covered hill just outside of Fort Tryon Park. Because of its location—one of the highest points in Manhattan—this is one of the deepest stations in the transit system, situated 140 feet underground. Commuters reach the platform via elevators in a small stone structure, which features Art Deco flourishes such as patterned metal gates and a green sign that reads SUBWAY near the entrance.
Photograph: Anna SimonakArt Deco SUBWAY sign at the 190th St station.
Photograph: Jonathan ApreaSmith–9th Sts (Smith St at 9th St, Gowanus, Brooklyn)At a towering 87.5 feet tall, this platform—which opened in 1933 and services the F and G lines—is the highest subway station in the world. It’s located on the Culver Viaduct, a mile-long overpass that connects Carroll Gardens to Park Slope (the Fourth Ave–9th St Station is also part of the structure). The station has been closed for renovations for a year, and is slated to reopen in the fall; from the platform, landmarks such as the Statue of Liberty, the Williamsburgh Savings Bank Tower and One World Trade Center are visible.
Photograph: Jonathan ApreaThe above-ground Smith–9th St station travels over the Gowanus Canal.
Photograph: Marielle Solan72nd St (72nd St between Amsterdam Ave and Broadway)This station is one of three to feature an above-ground control house designed by Heins & LaFarge, the architecture firm responsible for many of the earliest subway stations. (The other two still standing can be found at Bowling Green and Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn.) The structure, which opened in 1904, is on the south side of 72nd Street; on the north side, you’ll find a similar entryway, which opened in 2003 and was meant to evoke the look of its predecessor and help alleviate overcrowding in the busy 1 line station.
Photograph: Marielle SolanThe newer 72nd St control house, built in 2003.
Photograph: Courtesy the New York Transit MuseumBonus: The old City Hall stationOkay, so this isn’t that much of a secret: It’s well documented that the remnants of the old City Hall subway stop—a gorgeous station that featured wrought-iron chandeliers, vaulted ceilings and Art Nouveau skylights—still exist at a point past the end of the 6 line. Opened in 1904, the station closed in 1945 due to a need for longer trains. The New York Transit Museum occasionally offers tours for its members, but if you want to catch a gratis glimpse of the stop, take a ride on a downtown 6. Stay on the train as it travels from the Brooklyn Bridge–City Hall station to the uptown track, and you might just be able to see bits of the stop’s former glory.
Photograph: Courtesy the Library of CongressView of the old City Hall station.
Top five: New York City's coolest subway stations
Learn the secrets of and histories behind five of New York City's coolest subway stations—and find out how to see one hidden but beautiful old stop.
There are more than 400 New York City subway stations, some of which date back to the transit system's earliest days. While many of these hubs seem thoroughly unremarkable, or even a pain to navigate—Penn Station, we're looking at you—there are plenty of stops that have fascinating stories. Read on for our picks for New York City's five coolest subway stations, as well as how you can view one abandoned stop.