Public invited to see long-awaited Lowline

A duo plan to turn an unused trolley terminal into New York City’s first underground garden called the LowLine.

James Ramsey and Dan Barasch, who co-founded the project last year, have been brainstorming and conducting research ever since.

“The Lower East Side itself is one of our oldest and most historically rich neighborhoods,” Ramsey said. “The idea that you can take a device from the future and use it to travel into our past to cherish it, and in doing so knit a community back together is really at the heart of what we’re talking about.”

Ramsey, Barasch and Misty Gonzalez, the environmental director for the LowLine, plan to use fiber optic solar panels to direct sunlight from the street surface down into the chasm beneath the Lower East Side’s Delancey Street that will house the park. The group researched plant life that will be able to prosper in the underground environment.

“Part of the challenge is finding plant specimens that actually do well in this light level and this microclimate,” Gonzalez said.

The funding for the project is based on donations through the site KickStarter, and the LowLine creators’ goal is to raise $100,000 by April 6.

An interactive and free exhibit is open Sept. 15 through Sept. 27 to give New Yorkers a preview of how the LowLine will look.

“We intend for this exhibition to be the end marker for our first year of public existence,” Ramsey said. “This is the culmination of our phase one, you might call it.”

These events will raise money to bring the LowLine idea into fruition, which the founders hope to achieve in five to eight years.

“An underground park does sound cool,” said Lower East Side resident Tarari White. “If you want to have a little walk or something … you don’t see an underground park everyday.”

The LowLine exhibit will be held in the Lower East Side Essex Market Building on Essex and Broome Street.

CAS freshman Ben Goelz said he is looking forward to the opening of the park.

“I’m already a huge fan of the HighLine,” CAS freshman Ben Goelz said. “I love going there, and I believe the LowLine could provide a safe place for community recreation and relaxation. Such a place could potentially even do for the Lower East Side what the HighLine did for Chelsea.”

Isaac Marshall is a contributing writer. Email him at cstate@nyunews.com. 

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