NYC To House World’s First Underground Park

In a city as crowded and built on as New York, creating public spaces is often a difficult feat. From the visionary pier park on water to the elevated High Line park, there’s just not enough space on land. So, what’s a city to do?

Build underground.

That’s the plan for New York City’s new Lowline project, which is being dubbed as the world’s first underground park. The attraction will occupy a 116-year-old abandoned trolley terminal below the Lower East Side, formally known as the Williamsburg Bridge Trolley Terminal. Developers seek to renovate the 1-acre site, which has been used for storage since 1948, and use the latest solar technology to illuminate the subterranean space into a lush oasis.

Originally, the project was unveiled by Dan Barasch and James Ramsey in 2011 as the Delancey Underground Project, but was since changed as a nod to the popular High Line. Since then, a full-scale model of the attraction has been built and over $155,000 dollars has been raised to test the solar technology, which was designed by Ramsey, a former NASA engineer.

NYC To House World’s First Underground Park  - ClapwayPhoto Courtesy of

In order to supply the necessary light to turn the underground space into a park, sunlight will be collected via reflective parabolas above ground at street level. The parabolas – which will be able to align themselves to face the sun as it moves – will filter the sunlight about 20 feet down to bedrock via fiber-optic cables, enabling photosynthesis and thereby transforming the dark underground site into a bright, plant-filled sanctuary.

“We envision not merely a new public space, but an innovative display of how technology can transform our cities in the 21st century,” the project states. “And along the way, we intend to draw the community into the design process itself, empowering a new generation of Lower East Siders to help build a new bright spot in our dense urban environment”

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority and the City of New York are currently working together to bring the Lowline to fruition. Altogether, the park is expected to cost about $60 million in mostly private funds, plus some government money.

Construction for the Lowline is set to begin by 2017, with the park expected to open the following year.

NYC To House World’s First Underground Park  - ClapwayPhoto Courtesy of