NYC City Hall Approves the Lowline, A Lush Underground Park Inside a Forgotten Trolley Station

On July 14, 2016, Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen and President Maria Torres-Springer, both of the New York City Housing and Economic Development office announced that they would be granting a conditional park designation to the Lowline, the world’s first underground treed park built inside the long-vacant Williamsburg Bridge Trolley Terminal that sites under Delancey Street on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. The conditional designation gives the project 12-months “to hit key goals on community engagement, fundraising, and design” before permanent designation can be achieved.

The proposed location is the one-acre former Williamsburg Bridge Trolley Terminal, just below Delancey Street on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. The site was opened in 1908 for trolley passengers, but has been unused since 1948 when trolley service was discontinued. Despite six decades of neglect, the space still retains some incredible features, like remnant cobblestones, crisscrossing rail tracks and vaulted ceilings. It is also directly adjacent to the existing JMZ subway track at the Essex Street subway stop– so park visitors and subway riders would interact daily. This hidden historic site is located in one of the least green areas of New York City— presenting a unique opportunity to reclaim unused space for public good. …We are inspired to use technology to improve the lives of city residents, by creating more of the green space we all need. The Lowline aims to build a new kind of public space— one that highlights the historic elements of a former trolley terminal while introducing cutting-edge solar technology and design, enabling plants and trees to grow underground.