New York City's Underground Park

  • After the popularity of New York’s High Line park, which is located on an abandoned elevated railway, there is a new plan for a Low Line park. Yes, an underground park nearly the size of Gramercy Park. This time, the green transformation takes place in a dark trolley terminal below the streets of the Lower East Side that has stayed vacant for about sixty years. The initiators of Delancey Underground, the official name of the project, are three influential New York-based entrepreneurs: architect James Ramsey, Dan Barasch and R. Boykin Curry IV.

    The three men took their inspiration from two friends, Joshua David and Robert Hammond, who not only took the initiative for the High Line, but also set up a foundation called Friends of the High Line, which raised the funds that made it all happen. Nevertheless, at the Low Line the initiators first have to solve several design problems related to construction and lighting. In order to get sunlight into the dark tunnels and terminal of the new park, they came up with a reflecting system.

    “Technology enables us to create an appealing green space in an underserved neighborhood,” says Ramsey. The key, he says, is the “remote skylight,” a system that channels sunlight along fiber-optic cables, filtering out harmful ultraviolet and infrared light but keeping the wavelengths used in photosynthesis. “We’re channeling sunlight the way they did in ancient Egyptian tombs, but in a supermodern way.”

    Perhaps this visionary plan can be combined to some extent with the Underbelly Project, to draw attention of the public funders. Click here for more artist impressions of the proposal.