Millions of people the world over, perhaps even billions, take the subway every single day as a form of locomotion, to get from one place to the next, then back home again. The subway is really one of the most efficient means of travel, too. It's simple, affordable, easy, and relatively quick, compared to other forms of travel. Taking the bus is almost always much longer, as is biking or walking, and while a taxi may be faster, it may prove to be equitable, depending on how bad city traffic is.
Naturally, then, subway networks and systems are in a constant state of change, growth, and decay. New tunnels are dug and finished, while old stations and tunnel lines are completely left abandoned, sealed up and forgotten for who knows how long. This can lead to some seriously fascinating spaces, stale with old air, coated in a thick layer of age, crackling with deserted energy and phantasms from a forgotten time. A time when these abandoned stations were full of life and movement.
Many people the world over find intense fascination from abandoned spaces, especially underground spaces that have been left behind. So, indeed, there is a thriving community of underground urban explorers, the adventurous people who seek to find these places and scope them out, whether it is for art, photography, or even just solace. Let's take a look at some subways, then, 20 photos of abandoned stations that nobody dares to use anymore.
20 Abandoned City Hall Subway Station
This abandoned station was recently reopened to very limited tours, but it still isn't used for what it was initially designed for. Which, of course, was as a stop off for people who needed to either get on or get off of the subway.
This City Hall Station is found in New York, and it's a pretty spectacular visual to see, with old architecture that has remained beautiful despite being abandoned for decades on end. It's the kind of place that any urban explorers would love to see.
19 Black Shadows At Worth Street Station
This dingy dusty abandoned haunt of an underground station is not for the faint of heart. It's often that there are people who live down here that just don't want to be bothered. So keep your wits about you while exploring a place like this.
Worth Street Station in New York has been abandoned for some time now, as is clear by the graffiti and the junk piled up in the corners. Watch out for the shadows, they might just psych you out. Talk about a place that no one would dare use any more.
18 Cincinnati Subway Ruins
The Cincinnati Subway was a subway system that once ran through the city of Cincinnati, and here is the hard concrete shell of what it once used to be, before it was shut up to be forgotten.
The cavernous underground space looks pretty intimidating, with blank walls and deep shadows around every corner. Who knows what could be lurking there in the darkness, creeping and lying in wait for some unsuspecting urban explorer. Likely nothing at all, but it's good to be extra safe.
17 Don't Let Your Guard Down In Philly's Subway
Philly's subway system is riddled with pockets of abandoned stations, places where nobody goes anymore because they don't dare use these subway stations, not as stations anyway, and for the majority not as anything at all, they stay away as best they can.
Indeed, these places are left on reserve for the most intrepid, those who feel most at home in environments like this, where the ghosts and empty echoes of the past so easily blur with the present, as if no time passed at all.
16 Express Lane No More In Boston
The express lane through the depths of the Earth, also known as the subway, bypasses all kinds of traffic, stoplights, buildings, obstructions, and routes, all in favor of a straight track under the ground. It is about as express as it gets, but this is no more.
The case with this Boston subway track is that it is completely abandoned, empty, forgotten. No trains drive on these tracks, and therefore what resides here is much different than the average daily commuter.
15 Forging A Twisting Tunnel in Philly
The twisted path of these two gleaming metal tracks winds its way through the dark depths of the underground world beneath Philly, where graffiti, dust, garbage, and empty echoes exist in vast amounts, piling up year after forgotten year.
This lit tunnel forges its way through the darkness, encasing a space that only the most intrepid of people visit, or the most lost. Indeed, these abandoned subways are the places most wouldn't dare go, but despite their state of abandon, there is still life here.
14 Forgot To Turn The Lights Off
Street art is a huge draw for many urban explorers. There really is something beautiful about graffiti, no matter how extensive or elaborate it is. It's a fascinating thing to see, and especially on walls and surfaces where it isn't normally.
Like here, where this kind of graffiti would be erased as soon as possible in normal circumstances. But, this fully lit subway tunnel is filled with graffiti because it's completely abandoned, closed off from the public and no longer in use.
13 Great Tours Of Abandoned Ellis Island
Ellis Island no longer has this long, open, spacious underground station operational, it has been shut down and put out of commission, left behind and forgotten, to break down and mildew in the darkness alone.
Nowadays you can get a tour of the abandoned parts of Ellis Island, and get a taste of the important history that happened here, but for the daring urban explorers, going here away from the tours and beyond the bounds of the tour is the best way to go about it.
12 Hiding In The Shadows
Who knows what could be hiding in the shadows of this abandoned subway. There could be anything, really, and with many movies and books having taken place beneath the cities, deep in the darkness and fear that lingers along these empty halls and tunnels, it inspires fear.
Of course, those are usually far overdramatized, but there's at least one person, an urban explorer who's just photographing the wall, entrenched in the shadows and barely visible. Who knows what's beyond that even further?
11 Inundated With Graffiti In NYC
Talk about some gorgeous graffiti lining the walls of this abandoned subway station. The photographer in the photo seems like they've got it lit quite well for their capture, which is understandable, considering the subject matter.
The vibrant colors and murals along the sides, as well as the "we own the night" slogan plastered to the far wall really, do make for a good photo, and this photo is a great photo of a photographer taking a photo. So yeah, that's that and despite the beauty, getting here is likely quite the scary journey.
10 Just Don't Go Through The Doors
The lighting in this photo is genuinely eerie and disconcerting. It leaves you uncomfortable, the griminess of the space, as well as the encroaching darkness is really communicated very well. Warm light beckons you far left to come upstairs, but whatever you do, don't go through the doors.
Who knows what's behind them, it looks like some kind of scary post-apocalyptic fallout scene. In fact, it calls to my mind the scenes at the end of the movie Godzilla, the older one with Matthew Broderick, where they're running away from all the baby mutant lizards. Good times.
9 Known Paths Do Not Lead To Here
The slinking darkness and oppressive shadows along this claustrophobic corridor really incite a gut reaction. This doesn't look like a very comfortable place to be. For those who love extreme adventure, and the palpable feeling of danger looming on all sides, this is a pretty great place to be.
But known paths do not lead to places like this, and it likely took a lot of serious exploring to find this dark subway platform, where not many people have been, only the most intrepid of urban explorers and those with a passion for the underground.
8 Long Tracks, Wide Timbers
Exploring abandoned subways has a second aspect to it that only adds to the tension and perhaps fear that many might feel while they're wandering around in the depths. That is, while not the most rational, the idea that a subway might come hurtling down the tracks.
When something like that happens in a subway, there's not really a way to get out of the way. Hence why it's so scary even if you know that these lines are completely abandoned. The long exposure of this shot is great, too, because the blurry figure seems like she could be a ghost.
7 Meet An Urban Archaeologist
"City archeologist Joe Bagley walks through the first of two sections of the old MBTA tunnel which traveled between Scollay Square and Adams Square believed to be shut down in 1963," wbur.org tells us. Looks like quite a scary place to be, in the hollow spaces long forgotten beneath the ground.
But, the idea of being an urban archaeologist seems like a pretty cool one and one that would prove to be endlessly fascinating. Plus you'd likely be able to clear with the city most any exploration and get access to places that no one else would be able to. All in the name of science.
6 Neglected Ninety-First Street Station NYC
The expanse of New York City is truly mind-boggling, with not only endless winding city streets and blocks, buildings and courtyards both abandoned and habited, but an equally expansive underground network of subways and stations that have been around for some time.
The 91st Street station in NYC has been neglected and left behind, where hoodlums and underground specters spend their time drawing up the walls with their graffiti and giving the station the only life it ever sees these days. The station may just be abandoned, but the tracks might not be, so be careful.
5 Open Wide Spaces NYC Underground
The New York City underground network is a vast one, just like the city above it, and there are countless warrens, tunnels, and furrows just waiting to be explored and discover. In the vacuum of abandon, the very architecture gets transformed.
As things decay, dust builds, trash piles up, graffiti coats the walls, people explore, and soon enough the old station that once looked new now looks old, but it's newer than ever. This wide-open station is just such an example of that.
4 Palatial Tile Walls
Sometimes the best part about exploring abandoned spaces is not to see the results of its abandonment, the graffiti, scum, and dirt, but rather to see the features of the past, long forgotten and long since replaced.
The palatial tile walls of this subway station are fascinatingly beautiful, and they really show their age, dated in color and style. But what a sight to see, so much tile, glistening and perfectly made. Too bad this kind of architecture isn't much in style.
3 Quest For The Unknown In Madrid
The combined underground network of abandoned subway tunnels around the globe must be truly massive, a spectacular array of twisting tunnel ways and deserted tracks thousands of miles in length, maybe even longer.
Here in Madrid, one of the prettiest cities in Spain, is an abandoned subway station complete with the old tile, still in pretty spectacular shape all things considered, and the vintage ad for "Lampara Philips" that they display. Talk about an absolutely sublime place for a live music video recording.
2 Recherché Designs In Abandon
These art deco tiles are seriously recherché and definitively gorgeous. With the pinpoint lights glow against the green and white, it really echoes of a time period that's no longer in existence, back when people built things for the beauty, not just for the profit.
The skylight above this subway station, too, is intricately woven and absolutely gorgeous. It's amazing that this station was abandoned at all. It can be toured, too, in fact, in New York. It's the City Hall station.
1 See It To Believe It
This warmly lit corner of the abandoned subway tunnels of New York City is a pretty special one, an art show of sorts for street artists, where muralists have put up their art, on display, as if it was an art show.
While it's set in an abandoned subway tunnel, that doesn't make it any less of an art show. In fact, it may just make it more of an art show, at least in the minds of many true artists. I'd love to take the journey down to the depths to see this one.
Sources: Streets Department, Viralscape & Untapped Cities