Would you play in a park underground?
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: 1260L

Assign to Google Classroom

Visitors from around the world are drawn to New York City's High Line, 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 with a proposal to create the Lowline, billed as the world's first underground park.

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

Street-level solar collectors would be used to filter the sun about 20 feet down to bedrock, turning the dank, subterranean space into a luminous, plant-filled oasis. The park would offer city residents a place of refuge and 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. At the turn of the last century, newly arriving 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, 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, who 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 to transform the 1-acre leftover from the past into a destination of the future.

First, he says the Lowline team of three, plus hundreds of volunteers, must tackle some technical challenges: exactly how to channel the natural sunlight from the collectors to the park below, using the latest optics. 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.

The pioneer model for the Lowline is the High Line park on Manhattan's West Side. The 22-block aerial walkway on an abandoned freight route has galvanized a neighborhood where luxury condos, galleries and boutiques have all but pushed out the industrial grime of warehouses and manufacturing plants.

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.

Barasch counters that such revenue would allow the park to be self-sustained and not reliant on government funds.

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

Source URL: https://www.tweentribune.com/article/teen/would-you-play-park-underground/

Filed Under:  
Assigned 24 times

  • Tustin200
    12/03/2014 - 01:36 p.m.

    I personally think that New York deserves a bit more recreational and/ or relaxing places away from all the commotion and that its good that eastern New York is getting an underground public space that will be a nice place to be. It is also good that they are finding more uses for solar equipment.

  • Ashlynn1048
    12/03/2014 - 01:45 p.m.

    This is so cool! I think that this will be a great use of space! I am really hoping that we might be able to do something like this closer to us! I think that this is a great idea! Even though there are some concerns with this I think that it is a fantastic idea and I can't wait to see what it looks like!

  • chriss-Koc
    12/04/2014 - 12:45 a.m.

    As a kid i would have loved to have a park like this underground. even if it was the same as the one above ground i still would have played in it just because it was underground.

  • ws2001wrex
    12/04/2014 - 01:05 p.m.

    Natural lighting is important to this project because, it makes it feel like its a real park even though its underground. Also, some animals need sunlight to even survive. Also, all plants depend on sunlight too. So, to make a park real sunlight is a need.

  • TaylorSeifert-Ste
    12/04/2014 - 06:02 p.m.

    I've been to the High Line with my aunt, who lives in Manhattan, a couple times. It is really crowded, but beautiful. I think that the underground park would add to the currently huge amount of tourism in New York City. I would want to go check it out just for the experience.

  • CharismaM
    12/05/2014 - 01:54 p.m.

    Having lived in New York, you'd think that I would've known about something this amazing. I would absolutely love to visit an underground park. I would also like to visit the High Line and explore the elevated park.

  • Ashleypatt
    12/05/2014 - 01:58 p.m.

    Yes i would play in an underground playground. Because say it is winter out they can keep the place heated. They could make it really cool and it would be big! Also its all blocked in so parents can think their kids are more save. They could make it more padded and no gets could get hurt that bad like at a park outside.

  • MadisonSch
    12/05/2014 - 01:58 p.m.

    I would totally play on a playground that is underground, I would play on a playground that is also above ground. It being underground makes it seem so much more fun than being above ground

  • ShaniaWentz-Ste
    12/05/2014 - 02:42 p.m.

    I always wondered what it would be like to go underground, and now I could if I traveled to this park. I really like the idea of a park. I think that it would provide a great play area for kids and a great hang out spot for teens. However, it would also be a scary thing if kids got lost, so I hope that security is present.

  • GChelsea-Cas
    12/05/2014 - 09:57 p.m.

    I think that it would be a lot of fun to play in a underground park. New York is in most cases seen as almost a bad place I think it would be nice to have a new attraction there. The underground park would be cool to have it'll be the first of its kind. I would love to see how it would look when it's done especially if it looks like the picture shown. The park looks so beautiful with the light coming in and the people there look so happy. It's not like the crowded city above it seems like it's a more peaceful side to New York and I personally hope that the project does happen so when I visit my family there I can go with them to see it.

Leave a comment
Leave a comment