Everybody is Talking About: the LowLine | NYC’s Newest Green Space

A digital mockup of the proposed LowLine park, complete with natural sunlight

By Elizabeth Myer

One of the best perks of blogging for Greening the Apple is being among the first to uncover urban escapes via our readers or through other EPA contributors. In the past, we’ve blogged about the High Line, one of my all time favorite green spaces in NYC, but it recently occurred to me that we have yet to mention the LowLine. While the High Line resides on a historic freight rail line elevated above the streets on Manhattan’s West Side, the proposed Low Line aims to “greenify” underground space on the Lower East Side (LES). The masterminds behind the project are Dan Barasch and James Ramsey, an executive at the social innovation network PopTech and an architect, respectively.

The space for the project is comparable in size to Gramercy Park and sits directly underneath the LES foot entrance to the Williamsburg Bridge. Like the High Line it was initially built to serve as a train station, though it has been abandoned for over six decades. You might wonder, “How on earth does this duo plan to lure New Yorkers underground during the warm and sunny months?” James Ramsey, a former NASA satellite engineer, answered this concern with a technology that he developed specifically for this project which will use fiber optic cables to fill the subterranean space with natural light that will also be filtered of harmful ultraviolet and infrared light.

Just last week, fundraising opened through Kickstarter in an effort by James Ramsey and Dan Barasch to raise a whopping $100,000 in order to create mock-ups of their technology that will bring natural light into the space. The coolest part? The creators want to actively engage the local community in the decision-making from the start. To open up the dialogue, they will be presenting their plans for the project at high schools and community meetings on the LES over the next year.

Renovated green space with community input? Count me in!