It’s hard to imagine looking at the New York subway today, but at one time taking the subway was a high-class act, and subway stations were designed to be works of art — like the very first station, which opened underneath City Hall in 1904. It was closed to the public in 1945, in part because the curved tracks couldn’t accommodate newer trains, and because riders were mostly using the newer stations with faster trains.
When the city’s first subway station opened in 1904 underneath City Hall in Lower Manhattan, it was a testament to New York’s arrival as a world-class city on par with London, Paris or Rome. The ornate station featured chandeliers, ornamental skylights and soaring archways with zigzagging patterns of terra-cotta tiles.
Source: Failing New York Subway? Not Always — Once There Were Chandeliers – The New York Times