In 2012, we visited the first iteration of the Lowline – an exhibition in an Essex Street warehouse that showed the possibilities of the world’s first underground park that could be built in New York City in the abandoned Williamsburg Bridge Trolley Terminal on the Lower East Side. A little less than four years later, city government has given the project official approval. The Lowline will not only bring an innovative new green space to the neighborhood but will also provide a “community-oriented public and cultural space,” the NYCEDC announced last week.

The Lowline Lab opened in October 2015, putting the designs and theories developed by James Ramsey, Dan Barasch and the Lowline team, to test in the same Essex Street warehouse they used in 2012. The community aspect was always part of the Lowline project, which has programmed numerous events for all ages in the lab, including thousands of New York City students. In addition, the  NYCEDC stated, “The Lowline will serve as a showcase for the power of green technology, the creative repurposing of the city’s subterranean infrastructure, and the bold imagination of New Yorkers to lead the way toward more resilient, sustainable and livable cities.”

Though political support for the Lowline had been gaining momentum since the launch of the first exhibition, the project required city approval to move forward because the city owns the former trolley terminal, a 60,000 square foot space below Delancey Street between Clinton Street and Norfolk Street. An official request for expressions of interest went out last fall. In the next stage, the Lowline team will have to launch a community engagement plan that will include engage design charrettes and meetings, fundraise $12 million in the next year, and present designs for approval in the next year.

One of the ways the Lowline has been interfacing with New Yorkers is through a partnership with us, Untapped Cities! As part of our tour of the past, present and future of the New York City subway system, our guests get a walkthrough of the Lowline Lab led by lab docents working directly with the space. A portion of the ticket price is a donation to the Lowline. On the rest of the subway tour, you’ll go from past (the first subway line and what’s left of the station planned as the “Grand Central” of downtown), to present (inside the new Santiago Calatrava-designed Transportation Hub at World Trade Center and the Fulton Center oculus) to the future – at the Lowline. The earlier portions of the tour will be led by Untapped Cities tour guide Justin Rivers.

Join us on our next subway tours. Each tour is limited to 10 guests!
Underground Tour of the NYC Subway

Check out more of our upcoming Behind the Scenes tours at Untapped Cities.