Sunday, September 18, 2011

Underground Delancey Street Park Proposed - Another Low Line?

A rendering of Delancey Underground, with sunlight streaming through Ramsey’s “remote skylights.” Community Board 3 will be getting its first look at the plan on September 21st. (Rendering: Courtesy of Raad Studio/NY Magazine)

The abandoned Delancy Street trolley terminal as it looks today. (Photo: Courtesy of Danny Fuchs/NY Magazine)

Mott Haven resident Wally Nash points to the The Low Line near St. Mary's Park in the Bronx. While some proponents of the Delancey Street project have already termed it The Low Line - they may have some competition for that subterranean moniker from some northern neighbors on mainland USA. For years residents of the Mott Haven section of the Bronx have pressed officials to convert an abandoned freight railroad into a greenway they have dubbed The Low Line. The line runs from Bruckner Boulevard and E. 142nd Street to St. Mary’s Street, under St. Mary’s Park to E. 149th Street. The project gained attention in 2009 when officials had to drain more than 150,000 gallons of stagnent water into the sewer system. (Photo by Robert Benimoff) - Geoffrey Croft


Land for parks is so scarce in Manhattan that the city’s most generous new green space, the High Line, occupies an elevated railway. Now three urbanist entrepreneurs—James Ramsey, a satellite engineer turned architect; Dan Barasch, an executive at the technology think tank PopTech; and the pedigreed money manager R. Boykin Curry IV—hope to mine roughly two acres of green space under the city streets, according to New York Magazine.

Much as Joshua David and Robert Hammond transformed an old freight line into an attractive strip of greenery, this trio wants to convert the vast and dank trolley terminal that has sat disused on the Lower East Side for six decades into a park that they are calling Delancey Underground but will inevitably be known as the Low Line.

“Technology enables us to create an appealing green space in an underserved neighborhood,” says Ramsey. The key, he says, is the “remote skylight,” a system that channels sunlight along fiber-optic cables, filtering out harmful ultraviolet and infrared light but keeping the wavelengths used in photosynthesis. “We’re channeling sunlight the way they did in ancient Egyptian tombs, but in a supermodern way.” Ramsey envisions a stand of dozens of lamppostlike solar collectors on the Delancey Street median, feeding a system of fixtures down below.

The MTA controls the terminal, where trolleys plying the Williamsburg Bridge looped back toward Brooklyn; Ramsey says the agency has been willing to listen to his pitch, though it won’t contribute any funds. The next task is to sell the neighborhood on a park with walls and a ceiling supported by I beams. Community Board 3 gets its first look at the plan on September 21, giving residents the chance to start imagining what it might feel like to loll on a subterranean sheep meadow or ride an escalator to a bower in a burrow.

Read More:

A plan for a new park banks on subterranean photosynthesis
New York Magazine - September 16, 2011 - By Justin Davidson

YourNabe - August 27, 2011 - by Daniel Beekman


  1. I like the idea for the Bronx one...all the funding for the Highline, no help for the South Bronx park?

  2. It's like here in is found for development and improvements within five blocks of Inner Harbor tourist magnet, but not for other parts of the city for the citizenry.

  3. Where is the attention for the Bronx? no where.... more hipster BS for the elite in Manhattan