Delancey Underground: The Low Line

In New York City, where land for parks is scarce, the biggest new green space is the High Line, a mile-long stretch of elevated railroad repurposed as park. Now, a group of innovative urbanists is proposing a subterranean version.

As reported in this week’s issue of New York Magazine, the Delancey Underground (affectionately dubbed “The Low Line”) would convert the disused trolley terminal underneath Delancey Street in the Lower East Side to park space. How can a dark, dank underground space be transformed into a public green zone? Technology, says a member of the group behind the proposal.

“Technology enables us to create an appealing green space in an underserved neighborhood,” James Ramsey, a satellite engineer turned architect, told NY Mag. The key is a “remote skylight” that collect sunlight above ground and feed it underground along fiber-optic cables. “We’re channeling sunlight the way they did in ancient Egyptian tombs, but in a supermodern way.”

Needless to say, there are plenty of hurdles ahead. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), which controls the abandoned station, has agreed to listen to the pitch, but an agency rep said they won’t pay for it. The group may also be vying against other proposals. In any case, if the success of the High Line is taken into account, the city will give Delancey Underground a long look. 

For more images, check out the NY Mag slideshow

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