Most of NYC Subway stations are grimy, dirty, and generally pretty gross. Manhattan's are a little bit cleaner, because, you know, tourists. But there is one hidden gem among them, that has been closed since 1945. It is only opened for tours once in a while, and this weekend and a weekend in April is one of those once in a while times.

          This is one of the original subway stations from when the Subway opened on October 27, 1904. Unlike the rest of the subway line, City Hall station had tall tile arches, brass fixtures, chandeliers, skylights, polychrome tile, and elegant curves that ran along the platform. It was lit by wrought iron chandeliers and the three skylights of cut amethyst glass that allowed sunshine onto parts of the platform. During World War II, the skylights were blacked out with tar for safety.

          As the subway ridership increased the need for larger trains, more cars, and bigger platforms was evident. The smaller platform, and the curve of the platfrorm deemed the station unsafe for use in the 1940's . It's last day of use was December 31, 1945.  
You can see here, the track is too curvy for the more modern and larger subway cars.

You need to be a member of the MTA, which for a person would cost $50, and then the tour is $40, and there are 2 tours each day on February 16 and April 12. Here is the link for the tours, scroll down to Offsite tours, and it is the Jewel in the Crown:Old City Hall Station.

I have tried to take the 6 train past the last stop, because it goes past here, but never saw anything, then realized the lights are not on. So that little trick is a myth, the times I have tried it.

Top 5 Things To Do between Thanksgiving and Christmas in NYC

Who does Christmas spirit better than New York City? The famous poem 'Twas The Night Before Christmas' was inspired by a winter ride in downtown Manhattan in 1823, and the elf in the film 'Elf' traded a spot in the North Pole for some holiday time in the Big Apple.

1.  The Parade

Of course, Number one is the Thanksgiving Day Parade if you have not been. The route is mapped out below, and it starts at 9am.

2. Balloon Inflation

But how about the balloon inflation the night before?  Not a secret so it is pretty crowded! Don't expect an easy time. It is the night before the parade, November 27th from 3 to 10 pm. It starts at West 79th Street and Columbus Avenue, and winds around the American Museum of Natural History.

3.  Rockefeller Tree Lighting Ceremony

Another very crowded event, the Rockefeller Tree Lighting will be on December 4th this year. The time is from 7 to 9 this year, but the last time I went (in 2005) we got there at 4 or 4:30 and it was already getting crowded. We stood around for a long time with not much to look at, so make sure to try and get a good spot, keeping in mind everyone else will be doing the same.
I highly recommend watching both the parade and the tree lighting on TV, but I live here, so it is way different for me. Some of you may have this stuff on your bucket list, so go for it!  Bring plenty of warm clothes, and maybe even a folding camping chair for the wait. My then 5 year old fell asleep at one point.

4. The Windows

These are just some of the holiday windows to see, there are many in between, and also a few other displays, like this one on 6th Avenue between 49th and 50th Streets...just watch the crowds, it can get packed.

5. Holiday Shops at Bryant Park and Union Square

Holiday Shops

November 1, 2013 - January 5, 2014
Featuring more than 125 boutique-style shops in the park's tree-lined allées, the Holiday Shops complete the park's transformation into a winter wonderland.
From distinctive apparel to jewelry, decorative goods, local foods, and much more, the Holiday Shops are the perfect place to find gifts for all – adults, kids, and even pets.
If you visit the website there is more than just the shops...there ia also an Ice Skating Rink there. Here is a map of the whole park.

From their website:

The Union Square Holiday Market is a New York institution, and attracts more than one million visitors from the United States and abroad each year.  It's a wonderful place to spend time with family and friends, connect with local artisans and be swept up in NYC's holiday merriment. The market is located in Union Square Park, bordered by Park Avenue South, Broadway and 14th Street. 
The 2013 season of the Union Square Holiday Market will be open from November 21st - December 24th. Hours of operation are Weekdays 11am to 8pm, Saturday 10am to 8pm and Sunday 11am to 7pm.  The market is closed on Thanksgiving Day.