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Everything we know about The Lowline, the world’s first subterranean park

Will Gleason
Written by
Will Gleason

Chelsea has the High Line, and five years from now, the Lower East Side will be able to boast their own innovative urban green space: The Lowline.

We’ve been hearing about the future underground park for years, but now it’s closer than ever to becoming a reality. Thanks to a successful Kickstarter campaign, the team behind the project is opening the Lowline Lab in the former Essex Fair Retail Market this Saturday. At just 1,200 square feet, the Lab is about 5 percent of the size of the future park, but it demonstrates much of the technology behind it.

Visitors to the Lowline Lab will encounter wooden terraces, metal canopies and live plants all bathed in actual, subterranean sunlight. The light reaches the verdant underground space through an optical system invented by James Ramsey. (Ramsey’s spearheading the parks development along with co-founder and Executive Director Dan Barasch.) Polycarbonate tubes outfitted with lenses and mirrors bring the sun’s rays from the roof to the lab.

Demonstrating just how much vegetation the park will be able to support, over 60 species of actual plants are currently growing at the site including pineapples, mint, strawberries and thyme. An anodized aluminum canopy overhead directs the light. In fact, even though the eventual park will comprise three whole underground city blocks, there will be no artificial light at all.  

Expected to open in 2020, the Lowline Park will completely transform a 1.5 acre trolley terminal running under Delancey Street that hasn’t been used since 1948. The expected cost is somewhere between $60 and $75 million. 

h/t Daily News

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