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Visitors from around the world are drawn to New York City's High Line. It's an elevated park. It was built on old railroad tracks that were transformed into a sanctuary of flowers, grass and trees.
Private planners inspired by the High Line's success are now looking deep under Manhattan. They want to create the Lowline. It could become the world's first underground park.
The project would occupy a 116-year-old abandoned trolley terminal. It's below the city's Lower East Side neighborhood. The terminal area has been used for storage since 1948.
Street-level solar collectors would be used for the park. They would filter the sun about 20 feet down to bedrock. That would turn the space into a luminous, plant-filled oasis. The park would offer city residents a place of refuge. It could host art exhibits, music performances 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. 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. "It's come full circle; it's hip, happening and historic."
Dan Barasch co-founded the nonprofit Lowline project with architect James Ramsey. The park is expected to cost about $60 million. 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 underground site. It was once a trolley turnaround.
Barasch estimates it will take about five years before construction begins.
Community members had their 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.