The Astor Pl station is named for John Jacob Astor, a German immigrant who built his fortune in the beaver-pelt trade, eventually becoming the United States’ first millionaire. To honor him, architects Heins & LaFarge—who designed the structural and decorative details of many of the oldest subway stations—commissioned ceramic plaques, each featuring a large beaver biting a tree. The markers, made by Boston’s Grueby Faience Company, can be found at the southern end of each platform.
Several access points for the transit system’s 468 stations aren’t in plain sight—many are tucked away in weird locales. The only entrance to the Bushwick Ave–Aberdeen St L stop is within a car dealership; you can spot it only if you’re standing directly in front of the doors. The Clark St 2/3 stop is housed in the same building as the Hotel St. George in Brooklyn Heights—elevators inside a lobby with shops take you to the tracks. And though there’s no longer an accessible stop at the Trinity Building on Broadway, an Art Deco subway entrance sign remains; fittingly, a Subway sandwich shop is now located in its place.
Williamsburg’s South 4th Street station isn’t just abandoned—it was never used at all. Work on the stop began in 1929 as part of the proposed “Second System” expansion, but the one-two punch of the Great Depression and World War II killed progress for good. But street artists have accessed the site: In 2010, the Underbelly Project illegally occupied the space (allegedly—the group never revealed its exact location), showcasing the work of more than 100 artists.
Yeah, yeah, the secret’s out about the old City Hall station—if you really want to impress your pals, tell them about Worth Street. This now-deserted stop was located on the first IRT subway route, which went from City Hall to 145th Street. The stop closed in 1962, when the Brooklyn Bridge station was lengthened; the entrance was so close to Worth Street that the latter was deemed unnecessary. You might be able to peek at the platform while riding the 6 train between Brooklyn Bridge–City Hall and Canal St (but it is kind of dark).