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New York’s underground Lowline park creates solar innovation

The Lowline Underground Park

Turning a long-abandoned trolley terminal into an underground park is a daunting task. But this dream is on its way to becoming a reality. The Lowline – inspired by the success of New York’s elevated High Line – was first unveiled as the Delancey Underground Project in 2011. The renamed project has been steadily attracting funds and supporters. As proof-of-concept, a full-scale model was built and proudly displayed. And $155,000 US has already raised to test the innovative solar technology required to light the park and keep the greenery alive underground.

Lowline - Abandoned Trolley Terminal

Located at the former Williamsburg Bridge Trolley Terminal in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, the site is said to be “one of the least green areas of New York City.”

Designers have had to invent and perfect the lighting that will bring the project together. Sunlight will be collected through reflective parabolas placed above ground in areas that garner plenty of sunlight throughout the year. They’ll be able to align themselves to face the sun as it moves, maximizing exposure. Then using fiber optic cables, the sunlight will be directed underground to reflective dishes on the space’s ceiling that will direct and distribute it throughout the park. The technology is said to transmit the wavelengths of light necessary for photosynthesis, which will let the plants and trees grow.

The Lowline - imagining the lower east side underground park

New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority and the City of New York are working to make the Lowline a reality.It is hoped construction will begin by 2017 and the park will open the following year. This amazingly innovative and bold idea will benefit both tourists and NY residents, helping them get through those cold dreary winter days a lot more easily.

Debra Atlas is a freelance environmental writer and eco-enthusiast based in Northern California, and is the Red Ferret’s Ecological Editor. Debra looks for the upside of eco-change – what’s positive, making a difference. She hunts down those interesting things cooked up by creative minds, especially if they’re strange and eccentric.

Debra Atlas – who has written posts on The Red Ferret Journal.


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