Home / DesignNYC's Lowline to Turn Forgotten Trolley Tunnel into World's First Underground Park

NYC's Lowline to Turn Forgotten Trolley Tunnel into World's First Underground Park

How do we add green space to our ever-growing cities? That’s one of the questions that the New York City Lowline is trying to answer, as the world’s first underground park. Using solar technology, they want to transform a historic trolley terminal – untouched since 1948 – into a beautiful public gathering area that’s complete with live plants and trees. It’s conceptually similar to the city’s popular High Line, which also repurposed railroad tracks and turned them into a park. As the name might suggest, the High Line is elevated.

To illuminate the underground space, Lowline plans to collect sunlight on the surrounding rooftops and use efficient mirrors to reflect the light down to street-level. The collection will then be directed underground via a series of tubes. Lowline anticipates a lot of sunlight accumulation, so there’ll be many different types of plant species living underground in the middle of a crowded Manhattan.

Since we first wrote about the Lowline in 2011, they’ve taken strides towards making the project a reality. There was a 2012 Imagining the Lowline exhibit, which installed a solar collection system in a warehouse and gave people an idea of how the space would look and feel. Additionally, the Lowline team conducted more technology research, set up as a non-profit organization, and started the Young Designers Program to get local kids excited about science and technology.

Now, the organization is making another push for more funding using Kickstarter. Their next endeavor is the construction of a Lowline Lab. It’s a long-term solar device laboratory and public exhibition that’ll test and display their technology and vision. In it, they hope to create a dynamic prototype for the future Lowline.

At the time of writing, the crowdfunding campaign has six days to go and not yet met its goal. There’s still time to donate and score Lowline-themed rewards, including adopting a plant at their Lab.

Imagining the Lowline Exhibition in 2012

Imagining the Lowline Exhibition in 2012

Imagining the Lowline Exhibition in 2012

Imagining the Lowline Exhibition in 2012

Rendering of the Lowline Lab

Rendering of the Lowline Lab

Abandoned Terminal in 2013

Lowline: Website | Kickstarter

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