The abandoned Canal Street J/M/Z platform

Published on: November 3rd, 2015 | Last updated: November 25, 2015 Written by:


For whatever reason I’ve never bothered to post photos of this station, despite myself and Ntwrkguy being the first to explore the place mere hours after it closed.

Recent History
In the early 2000s, the MTA began ‘simplifying’ the J/M/Z tunnel through lower manhattan. This former 4 track route was being cut back to 2 in service tracks (the former southbound ‘express’ and local tracks), with a third being the former northbound (Queens bound) local track.

I say “Express” because all of the stations on this route had platforms for trains on the middle ‘express’ tracks to stop on.

The goal of the simplification project was to allow for the abandonment of two former Queens bound platforms – at Bowery and Canal.

Canal Street’s History
The Canal street platform was a particularly strange one. The two ‘express’ tracks ended here. At the south end of the station there was a walkway where passengers could cross between the Brooklyn and Queens bound platforms. This passageway was blown out in 2002 to make way for the new alignment of the Queens-bound track (into the former stub ended Brooklyn bound express track).

Wall and passenger walkway removed in 2002

By 2004 the former Queens bound platforms were closed to the public. We were the only crew actively exploring subway tunnels at the time, and those who occasionally went tunneling didn’t know these platforms were being abandoned – so it was a relatively easy win to get in first.

What we found were platforms left exactly as they were when the last passenger train rolled through: signs still in place, minimal graffiti.

Former Queens bound track, looking North/east.

The Brown M


Former Queens bound Express/stub track – the trackway here has been reduced in length by nearly half – and replaced with locked MTA rooms

We also found a subway entrance that seemed to have been abandoned in the late 1990s. The old token booth was left in place, and intact. This was a non-standard token booth, covered in orange tile very similar in look to those found at the Broadway/49th street station (which was renovated with them in 1973)




Today the station still sits in silence. The last time I tried to visit, the lights were still on, and I could see a strange combination of a seated man reading a paper and a shirtless man wandering around the platform, seemingly bored. Workers? Cops? Crazy people? I wasn’t about to find out – I don’t run subway tunnels to socialize.

6 responses to “The abandoned Canal Street J/M/Z platform”

  1. Ant says:

    I myself will explore Canal and Bowery. I’ve been thinking of doing this for a while but the only problem was that I was rather young. Now since I’m older, I’m pretty sure I can get my first taste of Exploring the Nyc subway tunnels like I’ve always intended to. But if my chances better, I do have some whom are willing to ride the tunnel night with me.

  2. Control says:

    Always good to go with someone else. Canal-Bowery is nice & wide as long as you’re not on the active tracks for long it’s pretty safe. I heard rumors about cameras on bowery (have not seen them myself), and I always see weird people at canal, but all things considered, it’s one of the best tunnels to start with.

  3. Ant says:

    I’ve actually have seen recent footage of a motion sensor on the platform on some locked up doorway to the mezzanine. Best thing to evade it I guess is move slowly on the track. Thinking of calling off Canal-Bowery this weekend tho. Construction is active on the J in Manhattan so I’m switching it up and going to hit City Hall and 174th st Yard.

  4. John says:

    Last time I went here, my and my boys left someone at canal to watch for any cops that were around. Minutes after we went into the tunnel, an mta employee or cop(can’t remember), asked my friend if he saw us go into the tracks. They have to have some kind of camera or motion sensor.

  5. Control says:

    Huh. I’ve heard similar stories about a camera at Bowery. I walked past a sensor in that area and nothing came of it (not sure if they sent anyone to look).

  6. Ant says:

    I had visited Bowery not too long ago, I checked and there wasn’t a motion sensor anymore on where it was located. I got unlucky when an employee had seen my presence as he walked down the stairs. Asked me if I was MTA employee myself. He was very kind for letting me off the hook so easily, just asked me to leave or cops might catch you. It’s ridiculous on how unlucky I got especially when Canal st was hotter that day as well.

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  • About The Author

    Bad Guy Joe

    Bad Guy Joe
    Bad Guy Joe knows more about the NYC underground than anyone else on or below the surface of this planet. He has spent nearly 30 years sneaking into NYC's more forbidden locations. When not underground, he's probably bitching about politicians or building something digital. 
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