In July of 2015, a project called Lowline bagged $223,506 of crowdfunding money from more than 2500 donors via Kickstarter. At the time, it was the platform’s most-funded public art project, and it was only a concept.
That concept was an underground park set in New York City.
According to the project’s description on Kickstarter; “It turns out there’s a 107-year-old former trolley station– untouched since 1948– right below Delancey Street in the center of New York City’s Lower East Side neighborhood. All the old architectural details are still there, and right now it sits in one of the most crowded neighborhoods in a very crowded city. Our dream is to take that space back and transform it into a beautiful public gathering space.”
The Delancey Street Trolley station, which has been a popular locale for ‘Haunted New York’ and more historical tours, is a space of approximately one acre with vaulted ceilings and a cobblestone floor. It’s right beside the Essex Street subway stop, and the two would easily be connected.
In the year since their funding success, that quarter of a million dollars has funded Lowline Lab, a sort of test version of the subterranean park. It features solar collection devices to bring sunlight into the space and a community exhibit about the project, and has been used to garner community engagement.
Now, Lowline is approved, and approved of, by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and Deputy Mayor for housing Alicia Glen, both of whom are excited about the project. They’re approved by City Hall to build the actual park in their intended space. The transformed trolley station will be whimsical, a little mysterious, and entirely kid-friendly, and hopes to open in late 2017. As much sculpture as green space, shelter and play place, it will be an important addition to a neighborhood that is densely populated and largely low-income.