by Kevin Walsh

The BMT Chambers Street station sits beneath the Municipal Building with City Hall across the street. It once served as the end of the line for trains crossing the Manhattan Bridge, and long ago, even saw Long Island Rail Road service.

The north platform has been out of service for decades, and the City has let it rot away.


Korman August 12, 2012 - 9:42 am

Train service to Chambers St began over the Williamsburg Bridge in 1913, when what is today’s J train crossed. The Manhattan Bridge train service opened 1915, along with the Sea Beach (N) and 4th Ave (R).

Simon August 12, 2012 - 11:28 am

It’s looked like that ever since I started taking the subway in 1964. Sad.

John T August 12, 2012 - 11:35 am

Truely forgotten in plain site – with those beautiful plates of the Brooklyn Bridge, yet without the diagonal cables.

Tal Barzilai August 12, 2012 - 2:17 pm

When did the LIRR come here, because I have never heard of this?

Kevin Walsh August 12, 2012 - 10:42 pm

LIRR trains had a connection to the Jamaica Ave BMT in the Highland Park, Brooklyn area. Some LIRR trains would use the Williamsburg Bridge and terminate at Chambers. This arrangement ended in the early to mid 1910s.

Ken B August 13, 2012 - 6:21 am

Does anyone know if the physical connections still exist that would allow such service to be brought back?

Kevin Walsh August 13, 2012 - 8:46 am

Not LIRR service, no.

Bill R August 13, 2012 - 5:48 pm

The interchange between the LIRR and the subway took place using the Chestnut Street incline off the BMT Jamaica line between Crescent and Norwood Sts. The joint LIRR/BMT service ended after the summer of 1917. The structure of the ramp stood until 1942 when it was dismantled and used for scrap during WW II There was a tower that controlled traffic over the incline which stood until the 1970s. The incline was the only connecting point between the BMT & the LIRR so it would not be possible to restore service that way once the incline was torn down.

somebody October 13, 2012 - 2:19 pm

To which LIRR line would it connect? The Montauk Branch, or the old Rockaway branch that the (A) now uses to access the Rockaways?

Kevin Walsh October 13, 2012 - 7:21 pm

The LIRR used to have a flyover from the Brooklyn branch running on Atlantic Ave, Then the LIRR ran on the Broadway El over the Willie to Chambers.

Mitch August 13, 2012 - 12:53 pm

The LIRR ran at street level and the BRT tracks were elevated, so a set of ramps were constructed to allow the LIRR trains to travel to and from the elevated tracks. Those ramps are long gone now.

Tal Barzilai August 13, 2012 - 8:13 pm

I always thought that LIRR didn’t do passenger service in Manhattan until after Penn Station came, which became its new major terminal.

Old Skool August 12, 2012 - 5:32 pm

Nice tease Kevin. Just when did you do the feature on Chambers Street?

Kevin Walsh August 12, 2012 - 10:40 pm

I have done Chambers Street before. Check the Subways items,a nd go down toward the bottom (the earlier stories)

Edward August 12, 2012 - 7:17 pm

The saddest station in the whole system. Why they don’t wall it up or otherwise cover it is beyond me, unless, as i suspect, they really don’t give a damn. And to be fair, it’s not the City’s fault since the mayor and city officials have very little say in what goes on within the MTA, a state-run authority.

Daniela August 13, 2012 - 4:52 am

Not as sad as the IRT 7th Avenue 91st Station. Graffiti has totally obliterated it. At this BMT station one can at least see the workmanship that went into creating it.

Why isn’t the LIRR using the BMT station? From all the press it sounds like they could use it.

BK Jack August 13, 2012 - 10:38 am

The difference between Chambers st and 91 st is that Chambers St is still in use, and people stand waiting for the J/Z train in this filth. (I know I used it when the M was here).
Dirtiest and spookiest station.

Daniela August 14, 2012 - 12:30 pm

Ick, that is terrible for such a potentially good looking station. The only good thing about the 91st station and the 18th street station described below is that they are no longer in use.

Mitch August 13, 2012 - 12:59 pm

Hate to disagree but the saddest station has to be 18th Street on the east side IRT. Not only has it been obliterated by graffiti as badly as 91st, but a good part of it has been bricked up at platform level on the uptown side. Not sure why. I’ve never actually seen photos of the uptown platform either when it was open or after abandonment. Its a shame, because 18th is the only original 1904 IRT station whose platforms were never extended (except City Hall, for other reasons) after the Board of Transportation took over the IRT lines in 1940. The station closed in 1948, after 14th Street’s platforms were lengthened northward, creating a station entrance at 16th Street. This eliminated the need for the 18th Street station and it was closed. All of the other original 1904 IRT stations, including the closed ones at 91st and Worth Street, have had their platforms extended at least once.

Jon Baker August 16, 2012 - 8:02 pm

On the contrary, all three stations were extended in 1910 (18th St, 91st St, Worth St) to accommodate 6-car trains instead of 5-car. Worth St. downtown was extended for 10-car trains, but not the uptown side. The other two remained short, barely long enough to accommodate 6-car trains. See Joe Brennan’s “Abandoned Subway Stations” site.

Larry August 13, 2012 - 12:27 pm

I first saw this station in the 50’s….the whole place was very depressing even then……had a bad odor to it also….I couldnt believe something like this existed….BMT had great plans for Chambers Street but it never came to anything…..

Larry August 13, 2012 - 12:34 pm

When I was a lad, BMT also ran a short line from Atlantic Avenue station on the Canarsie line and then came down and joined the Broadway Jamaica for its trip to Chambers Street..

Mitch August 13, 2012 - 1:04 pm

BTW, the photo of the Chambers Street side platorm above shows that the MTA has actually been cleaning the platform. I used Chambers in the mid and late 1990’s and distinctly recall graffiti and grime on the platform wall and bags of garbage (some of which had been torn open by rats) strewn across the platform. There were always puddles of water here and there on the platform and I distinctly recall once seeing human feces on the platform as well. The above photos looks like the platform surface is clean, if badly worn. I think the white powdery material may be lime or some kind of disinfectant. I’m glad the MTA has not walled up this platform because its wonderful to see some of the old subway design and architecture. I just wish they’d clean it up and restore it.

Jeff August 14, 2012 - 12:50 am

For a great description of why Chambers St is so large and now largely abandoned, look on Here’s the Chambers St link:


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