1. Built environment
November 27, 2014updated 02 Aug 2021 9:17am

Manhattan's Lowline would be the world's first underground park

By City Monitor Staff

You could never accuse New York of lacking imagination with its plans for green space in the heart of Manhattan. First, there was the High Line, a park built on elevated railway tracks. Now, developers are hoping to transform more disused transport infrastructure into an urban park – only this time, it’ll be in an abandoned streetcar terminal under the Lower East Side.

The Associated Press reported yesterday:

The trolley terminal below the Lower East Side has 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.

So, will it actually happen? The fancy “solar collectors” have already been designed by James Ramsey of Raad design studio (see above), but the project so far has only the support of private planners – meaning there’s the small matter of whether they’ll actually find enough money for the project to go ahead.

To this end, on 8 October, the Lowline group held what they called an “anti-gala” to raise money from the city’s elite (meaning Lena Dunham and Spike Jonze, apparently) for the project’s “ongoing advocacy, development, and design”.

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At the event, deputy mayor Alicia Glen called the park, and Lowline’s other plans for new housing and development across the Lower East Side, “equitable and sustainable” and hinted that Mayor de Blasio agreed. Onwards and downwards, then.


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