Underground Secrets of the Person of Interest Set (PHOTOS)

Mike Flaherty

Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

The new set was researched, designed, and built over a four-month period in early 2014. It’s based on Gotham’s original City Hall station, the terminus for the Interborough Rapid Transit (IRT) line, which opened in 1904. “It was considered quite grand, rivaling the Paris Metro,” Butler says. “It had brass chandeliers, stained-glass skylights, and Guastavino tile.” (Now known as the “ghost station,” the real spot can still be glimpsed in the tunnel between two modern-day stops on the Lexington Avenue line in Manhattan.)

Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

The entire 4,500-square-foot Queens, New York, set sits on a four-foot platform.

Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

It’s furnished with authentic period pieces—like the worktables and chairs inside the car, which were found by the show’s set decorator, Alyssa Winter, at auctions and antique sales—as well as faithful reproductions of the decor, including benches and an IRT plaque.

Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

The architecturally accurate lair was designed to fit its host’s personality. “Finch is not only a genius, but he’s ingenious in the way that he can adapt and work with the situation and materials at hand,” Butler says, pointing out that the subway track’s third rail is used as the power source for Harold’s many computers and gadgets.

Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

The subway car that is the lair’s centerpiece is the least local element: Because New York’s Metropolitan Transit Authority does not sell its cars, Butler wound up procuring one from Chicago’s subway system, which was found in a warehouse in Santa Clarita, California, of all places. “We adapted the seats and the handrails to match New York style,” Butler explains.

Adds the resourceful designer: “It can be redressed as a contemporary subway train traveling in the current New York tunnels using digital effects to make it look like it’s moving.” A series of hydraulic air bags underneath can provide a “bouncing” effect to mimic a real-life subway ride.

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Team Machine went underground in Season 4. Person of Interest production designer Rick Butler reveals the secrets of Finch’s subway-station lair.

When POI producers decided Finch (Michael Emerson) would have to abandon his beloved library/control room following the battle with supercomputer Samaritan, they tasked the show’s production designer, Rick Butler, with the creation of a new hideout for Season 4. Butler and his team hit the books—and New York’s famed Transit Museum—for inspiration. “In New York City, there’s as much going on underground as aboveground,” he says.

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