a future new york urban travel destination: the lower east side “low line”


New York City’s much-heralded and successful west side High Line project – the abandoned cargo train-track-turned-park – may soon have a subterranean counterpart. The city is now considering another abandoned train track park renovation project called “The Low Line” which, if realized, will appear underneath Delancey Street in the Lower East Side.

Underneath the hustle and bustle of Delancey Street is a two acre abandoned Williamsburg Trolley Terminal that has been unused for the last 60+ years. The terminal once operated cars that crossed the Willamsburg Bridge to Brooklyn, looping back.

The Williamsburg Trolley Terminal was opened in 1903 as a depot for streetcars ferrying passengers between Williamsburg and the Lower East Side. It was in service until 1948 when streetcar service was discontinued, and has not been used ever since.

In concert with this project, Raad Studio has designed a new technology that directs sunlight below ground via fiber optic cables. Several solar collectors would be placed at street level on Delancey Street to collect sunlight throughout the day, and that light would then be reflected below ground, enabling plants, trees, and grasses to grow. The campaign for the Low Line has already received donations of more than $125,000 to fund the sunlight technology. If realized, the Low Line would be directly adjacent to the existing JMZ subway track enabling visitors and subway riders to interact.

The abandoned Williamsburg Trolley Terminal is under the control of the MTA, and they have made it clear that they will not submit any funding for the construction of the park. The design team will also present their Low Line proposal next week to members of the Lower East Side Community Board 3, who will vote on whether to proceed with the project.