Deep below bustling, noisy Delancy Street in Manhattan lies the Williamsburg Bridge Trolley Terminal, a building abandoned in 1948. This terminal is just one of many tunnels and stations that riddle New York, unused except by rats and albino alligators. Now, designers Dan Barasch and James Ramsey want to do for the city's subterranean spaces what the High Line and the Brooklyn Garage did for its aerial ones: Turn them into vibrant, immaculately designed parks.
Despite the abundance of empty urban caves, Barasch and Ramsey encountered one major hurdle to making the darkness bloom: Plants can't grow without light. The team has come up with high-tech solution to bring light underground, involving tunnels, GPS, and a parabolic system of lenses and mirrors based on the one used in the James Webb Space Telescope.
In the exhibition "Imagining the Lowline" visitors recently got their first taste of a forest floor beneath the pavement, complete with moss, ferns, and a Japanese maple. Whether Barasch and Ramsey can realize their vision of converting the trolley terminal into the world's first underground green space depends on city bureaucracy and, of course, money. Fans can contribue cash at their website. For all us vampires, night-owls, and Poe-reading goths, let's hope Manhattan soon gets its next great public space, far beneath the madding crowds.