I’m fascinated by project announcements, particularly ones in Manhattan because they tend to be bigger and more grandiose than ones you’ll find anywhere else. I also like looking back and see what actually gets built in comparison to what was initially planned. For this reason, I’ve been following the development of the corner of Times Square, including the moving of the Palace Theater, to become TSX Broadway, which is set to open in 2022.
While that’s a huge undertaking, it’s just another big building in New York. There’s another project I’ve been following since it was proposed in 2012. Step by step, it’s been moving through the development phases, but now it looks like it might actually happen.
And I’m fascinated with the idea.
I remember back in 2012, seeing a Kickstarter funding page for a seemingly impossible project.
We plan to transform an abandoned New York City trolley terminal into a vibrant community green space using new solar technology.
An underground park. Crazy, right?
The plan, as they described it, was to use real sunlight through solar technology to create a park on the site of the abandoned Williamsburg Bridge Trolley Terminal in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. In its heyday, the station was the turn-around point for the trolleys. It had eight loops, one for each line ending at the station. With the end of trolley cars being used in New York, the station has been closed since 1948.
The terminal, which is roughly the size of a football field, has been sitting abandoned for over 70 years, adjacent to a subway station. Not exactly the place I’d be looking to build a park but you gotta give it to people who shoot for the stars.
The 2012 Kickstarter was successful, raising over $155,000 (of its $100,000 goal). With the money, they built a “proof of concept” fully functioning full-scale model of solar technology in a warehouse near the proposed site of the park. showing how it was possible to get sunlight to underground spaces.
In 2015, another Kickstarter was launched with higher goals. They raised $223,000 to build the “LowLine Lab.” The Lab, which opened in October 2015 in a 10,000 square foot windowless warehouse, stayed open until February 2017.
It was dubbed as “a free community gathering space that displays cutting-edge solar technology, serves as a laboratory for lighting and horticulture experiments, and features multiple cultural and community events.” It was open for 17 months and over 100,000 people from across New York City and around the world visited.
With the information learned, the team is now working on scaling up to transform the terminal into a park. In an interview from 2017 with Next City, the lead designer, Jack Barasch, has this to say about the Lowline Lab.
“We were primarily interested in seeing if our solar technology design could effectively deliver natural sunlight into dark space at an intensity that would support plants and trees,” Barasch says. “We had over 3,000 plants and most did extraordinarily well. We were even able to grow a variety of edible plants. Strawberries, mint and herbs.”
“We know our solar technology does indeed work to illuminate the underground space,” says Barasch. “The next stage of our research is whether we can do this technically at scale and in a much more complex urban environment.”
The idea of using technology to turn an abandoned underground space into a park really fascinates me. I’m hopeful that the project actually comes to fruition. I’m sure that when it does, we’ll make a trip downtown to check it out.
Like this post? Please share it! We have plenty more just like it and would love if you decided to hang around and clicked the button on the top (if you’re on your computer) or the bottom (if you’re on your phone/tablet) of this page to follow our blog and get emailed notifications of when we post (it’s usually just two or three times a day). Or maybe you’d like to join our Facebook group, where we talk and ask questions about travel (including Disney parks), creative ways to earn frequent flyer miles and hotel points, how to save money on or for your trips, get access to travel articles you may not see otherwise, etc. Whether you’ve read our posts before or this is the first time you’re stopping by, we’re really glad you’re here and hope you come back to visit again!
This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary