Would you play in a park underground? This artist's rendering shows a deep underground park that could be created in a 116-year-old abandoned trolley terminal below the Lower East Side. At left, how it appears now (AP photos / The Lowline)
Would you play in a park underground?
Lexile

Visitors from around the world are drawn to New York City's High Line. It's an elevated park built on defunct railroad tracks transformed into an urban sanctuary of flowers, grass and trees.

Private planners inspired by the High Line's success are now looking deep under Manhattan at a proposal to create the Lowline. It could become the world's first underground park.

The project would occupy a 116-year-old abandoned trolley terminal below the Lower East Side. The area has been used for storage since 1948.

Street-level solar collectors would be used to filter the sun about 20 feet down to bedrock. That would turn the dank, subterranean space into a luminous, plant-filled oasis. The park would offer city residents a place of refuge. It could host art exhibits, music performances, readings and children's activities.

The Lowline is only one part of a Lower East Side revitalization project.

The neighborhood has an important place in the history of immigration. Italian, Irish and German families made their first homes in America in its tenements.

"Many people once fought to move out of the Lower East Side. And now, their grandkids are fighting to get in," says Mark Miller. He is an art gallery owner whose family ran businesses there since the late 19th century. "It's come full circle; it's hip, happening and historic."

"We're simply taking over a space no one was using in a densely populated neighborhood that lacks sufficient public space," says Dan Barasch. He specializes in promoting socially innovative applications of technology.

He co-founded the nonprofit Lowline project with architect James Ramsey, a former NASA engineer. The park is expected to cost about $60 million in mostly private funds, plus some government money. More than $1 million has been raised for research and design.

Ramsey and Barasch got the idea for the project when they heard about the site that was once a trolley turnaround for the line that ran across the Williamsburg Bridge to Brooklyn.

"We'd already been playing with new solar technology," Barasch said. "And we fell more and more in love with the idea of this public space. So we put those two concepts together."

Barasch estimates it will take about five years before construction begins.

First, he says the Lowline team of three, plus hundreds of volunteers, must tackle some technical challenges. One is how to channel the natural sunlight from the collectors to the park below. Then, a way must be found to position the sunlight so it allows plants to grow.

Several high-tech companies already have used such systems to funnel natural illumination to previously light-inaccessible areas.

"But you can't just cut the street open," says Barasch.

Community members had their own questions at a Lowline presentation. Some asked where the street-level entrances would be, how the space would be ventilated and what kinds of plants would be brought in.

Not everyone is thrilled with the idea.

Kerri Culhane, associate director of Two Bridges Neighborhood Council, says the project will draw real estate investors while alienating longtime residents.

Critical thinking challenge: Why is natural sunlight essential to this project?

Filed Under:  
Assigned 58 times


COMMENTS (105)
  • WV2001TacoBelll
    12/02/2014 - 12:59 p.m.

    I would love to go to this park just to look around and see how it is it seem like a fun and new experience that I would love to see happen

  • ct2000green
    12/02/2014 - 01:00 p.m.

    This seems like such a cool and smart idea. It makes sense if we have such a huge area of abandoned place to use it for something that people would enjoy to go to.

  • TE2001lego
    12/02/2014 - 01:01 p.m.

    It's just amazing the way it looks the size the lights the road and there must be swings and slides there to like regular playgrounds.

  • wpapril30
    12/02/2014 - 01:08 p.m.

    I think it cool to see or stand in a under ground park but it can be near the subway train. I think if we can build it here maybe we can build it on the moon and we will have plants and life resource.

  • BigCove666
    12/02/2014 - 01:18 p.m.

    That is so cool! Though it will cost a lot of money! 60 million dollars, but that's good that they already raised 1 million. I hope it happens soon!

  • JustinSy-Wil
    12/02/2014 - 01:20 p.m.

    I think that this project is stupid and not very useful. Why can't you just go to a park in the outdoors? I think that the history of immigration should be in a monument or a special room somewhere else. Also I think that they shouldn't disturb the history of Brooklyn and the railroad tracks.

  • Magruder0708
    12/02/2014 - 01:20 p.m.

    Wow! That's cool! 60 million dollars is a lot of money! They have already raised 1 million dollars for the park. hope it happens soon!

  • RyanSOrange
    12/02/2014 - 02:33 p.m.

    This is so cool, a park underground, and they made it from a 116-year-old abandoned trolley terminal. But it cost so much money like $60 million, and there slowly working there way there 1 million down 59 million left. This will take some great engineers and a lot of patience.

  • kevik-4
    12/02/2014 - 07:33 p.m.

    In this article it talks about in New York city they are going to build a under ground park. The park is going to be in a old troy station underground. They are saying that they are doing this because there is not many public parks in crowed New York city. People in the neighborhood Council do not want it to happen because they say it will draw real estate investors so the longtime residents will move away. I think this is a good idea because New York City is very populated and on land there is no room to put a park. I also think it is a very cool idea because no one has ever been in one because this is the first one ever made.

  • 8NANDISURUPI-Flo
    12/02/2014 - 09:55 p.m.

    I think it would be amazing to go to an underground park!!! I have never seen such kind of a thing before, but I would like to go there if I ever get a chance. I wonder how they will build it. It is a very creative thought of an underground park.

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT