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The Sun Always Shines Under NYC

Whether it’s in a cartoon like “The Jetsons”, or a science fiction movie such as “The Fifth Element”, the idea of people living and working in structures situated high above the ground is a popular future-themed trope. Flying cars, floating cities, structures elevated on very high supports, all of these point to a future that lies up in the clouds.

But perhaps the future isn’t looking up, but rather, looking down, as in, under the Earth. Space on the surface may be at a premium in large, sprawling cities, but one can’t ignore the potential of subterranean development. And in New York City, that potential is being recognized.

Above view looking at Central Park and Fifth Avenue in New York City.

Who knows? Perhaos Lowline will become as famous as Central Park!

Presenting The Lowline Project

When you’re talking about urban land being a scarce commodity, things can’t get any scarcer than land in New York City. The Lowline proposal would create a spacious public park underground.

According to the article “It’s Always Sunny Underneath NYC”, the project takes the one-acre space that was used by the long-defunct Williamsburg Bridge Trolley Terminal on the Lower East Side and turning it into a new patch of delightful green, an ideal place for people to walk, play, meet, and enjoy themselves.

Naturally, there IS a certain big issue that needs to be addressed …

Here Comes The Sun

Unless the park is being built for Morlocks or moles, there is the issue of lighting. In fact, since the whole point of this project is to take an old, abandoned facility and its space and turn it into a park that has actual live trees and other greenery, it’s important to get sunlight into the picture.

Fortunately, a South Korean company with the promising name of Sun Portal is partnering with the builders in order to bring sunlight underground. By employing a system of optics that gather and diffuse sunlight, courtesy of a solar distributor dish in the ceiling, the park can get all of the light the park needs, and in the right wavelengths to make it conducive for growing plants.

No Rain, No Sunburns

An underground park won’t have to worry about rainy days, either. There would be no need to postpone that nice daily stroll. Furthermore, potentially harmful ultraviolet rays would be blocked, so it has that going for it as well.

How Far Along Are They?

While this all sounds good, is this just a pipe dream or is it actually going to become a reality? Well, as it happens, there was a successful Kickstarter campaign set up for this very purpose. To quote the campaign’s page, “We plan to transform an abandoned New York City trolley terminal into a vibrant community green space using new solar technology.”

According to the timeline on at, the projected date of completion, once all negotiations and such are done, is 2018.

If this project turns out to be as great as advertised, we may be seeing the start of a new trend. Rather than building skyscrapers that are getting outrageously taller, the future may actually lie under our very feet.

Byline: John Terra has been a freelance writer since 1985. He prefers the underground approach over the “up in the sky” method.

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