Along a very busy, dark and dirty 4 track subway line lays this secluded way station for reprobates.
When the original IRT subway route opened in 1904, the 18th street station was an active local stop. All of the original IRT stations were rather short and could not accommodate the longer, 10 car trains that the MTA eventually wanted to use. Thus in the 1940s, they began extending most of the stations while closing a few. In 1948 the 23rd street station was extended southward (with an exit at 22nd street). Having 2 stations within 4 blocks of each other made no sense, so 18th street was closed (91st street met a similar fate, while the famous City Hall station was simply closed).
According to Wikipedia: The station's ceiling was originally fitted with glass in order to let natural light in. It has green faience plaques and mosaic name tablets by Heins & LaFarge / Grueby Faience Company from 1904. The ceiling was also decorated with ornamental motifs.
While this station was closed and 'abandoned', it was never forgotten. Several thousand commuters a day pass by this station on the 4/5/6 lines. It is visible to passing trains, though with the platform lights long since shut off, you'll have to look pretty closely to see it.
The station also became covered in graffiti, which should surprise no one. It represents a relatively safe place for tunnel-wandering graffiti writers to apply their trade in full view of a large audience. Under the layers of spray paint though, the original tiles and terra cotta remains.
In 2004 two entrepreneurs tried to get all the various city agencies and MTA on board with the idea of opening a bar in the station, with sound proof glass at the edge of the platform. Rumor amongst subway fans is that the MTA wouldn't let them do it because they wanted to keep some of the graffiti on the walls.
Today, the station still sits in the dark, awaiting a very unknown future.
If you want to get an idea how dark this station is, check out the video clip below.
(original publication date: May 2008 - updated with historic details, photos & video)