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New York City is known for being a concrete jungle. Since the city is growing day by day, the need for more building spaces is increasing. A suggested, unusual solution was proposed by New York City’s High Line: underground parks.

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Looking for alternatives to ‘creating public spaces into cities,’ a New York based team of engineers and entrepreneurs have started to work in order to reclaim an abandoned underground trolley terminal on the Lower East Side and give New Yorkers a new green space that would utilize solar energy and redistribute it underground.

The project, named The Lowline, expects to use pioneering solar technology in order to re-build the 116-year-old Williamsburg Bridge Trolley Terminal in the Lower East Side of Manhattan that’s been used for storage since 1948.


Previously, Gizmag reported that this project was uncovered in the Delancey Underground Project in 2011. From that day forward, more than US$155,000 has been raised to test the solar technology (mostly from private investors). In addition a design was built that provided proof-of-concept.

The engineers are looking forward to using light to help grow plants and trees underground, which practically means getting a subterranean, urban oasis inside the city.

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According to Lowline’s website, the idea behind Lowline is to not only give New York more green space, but also demonstrate how innovative solar technology can be used to get full-of-green places, where people can relax in and escape from the hustle and bustle of the city.


In addition to that, the park will host a variety of cultural events, art exhibitions and youth activities. It will also seek to overcome its subterranean limitations to have a rich variety of plants and trees.

The neighborhood, where the park will be built, has an important place in the history of immigration. reported:

“At the turn of the last century, newly arriving Italian, Irish and German families made their first homes in America in its tenements. So many Jewish families settled in the neighborhood that it has been called “the American-Jewish Plymouth Rock.””

Mark Miller, an art gallery owner whose family ran businesses there since the late 19th century, reportedly said:

“Many people once fought to move out of the Lower East Side, and now, their grandkids are fighting to get in. It’s come full circle; it’s hip, happening and historic.”


In order to light up the underground area and feed all of those plants and trees, the developers will build street-level reflective parabolas which will be used to collect sunlight and direct it underground via fiber-optic cables. Justine Alford wrote in IFL Science:

“The light will then be dispersed through the park by aiming it towards reflective dishes. The solar collectors will be positioned in areas that receive lots of sunlight, and will be adjustable so that they can follow the sun as it moves, maximizing the amount of light that can be collected. When insufficient sunlight is available, electricity would be used to light up the park instead.”

The technology would produce a kind of remote skyline. According to Gizmag:

“After planting a collection of solar dishes at points around Delancey Street that have full access to the sun, the natural light is bounced back to a set of reflector shields which concentrate the light and “irrigate” or redistribute the energy source throughout the underground park.”


The developers noted on their site that despite nearly six decades of neglect, the area has still managed to keep its historic features in possession. The cobblestones, rail tracks and vaulted ceilings are still available for visitors. The developers said on their website:

“Our vision is a stunning underground park, providing a beautiful respite and a cultural attraction in one of the world’s most dense, exciting urban environments.”

Dan Barasch, who specializes in promoting socially innovative applications of technology, said:

“We’re simply taking over a space no one was using in a densely populated neighborhood that lacks sufficient public space.”

Barasch is also the co-founder of the nonprofit Lowline project with designer James Ramsey, a former NASA engineer. The engineers think that this new project will need about five years or pre-planning before construction can begin.

The video below provides more information about the Lowline.


(1) The Lowline

(2) IFL Science

(3) Photos Credits: The Lowline, Raad Studio

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