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Thanks to Kickstarter, New York is getting an underground park with real sunlight

An ambitious team of inventors, designers, and strategists have just cleared a key hurdle in bringing the world’s first underground park to New York City — and the project looks stunning. Utilizing their own cutting-edge solar technology, the team intends to put a foliage-rich park — chock full of live plants and trees — underneath Delancey Street, right in the heart of NYC’s Lower East Side. To top it off, the designs for this revolutionary park have it calling the 107-year-old Williamsburg Bridge Trolley Terminal home, effectively giving a derelict landmark a renewed lease on life.

Called Lowline, this project recently took to Kickstarter intent on raising $200k to help fund a test facility it plans to use to convince the City to approve the project. Over the course of the campaign, Lowline officially raised an impressive $223,506, allowing them to greenlight production on the testing site. This facility — called the Lowline Lab — will inhabit a former market building just a short walk from the intended final site, and should serve as the last stop before underground production commences.

Lowline3
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Using nearby warehouse space for the test, the team plans to install its advanced sunlight collection technology, which is comprised of four different working parts. First, Collectors installed on rooftops track and reflect sunlight down to the street, then Concentrators focus the light towards underground tubes called Irrigators. These tubes then deliver the sunlight further underground to Distributors, which reflect and distribute the full-spectrum light into the Lowline Lab. Using this technology, the team has the ability to cultivate thriving plants in a typically dark area, creating a space reminiscent of a city park (i.e. somewhere city folk might want to gather). The Lowline Lab exhibit plans to run from September 2015 to February 2016, and hopefully provide the crew with a slew of information on how to perfect the project on a larger scale. 

Though the project is still in the early stages, the team already produced a small-scale version of the project back in 2012 after another successful Kickstarter campaign. Lowline’s 2012 version featured similar solar technology and successfully created a living, breathing garden fit for people to visit and enjoy. After receiving massive amounts of feedback from lab visitors, youth organizations, and hosts of advisors and supporters, Lowline got back to business developing new ideas and tech for the project.

Armed with advanced solar technology, yet another successful Kickstarter campaign, and even more help from directors and advisors, Lowline figures to see the world’s first solar-powered underground park through to completion. This is not only a slam dunk for the team at Lowline, but it also allows the people of New York City to celebrate one of its most historical landmarks. Moreover, this gives solar energy yet another impressive achievement its proponents get to hang their hat on.

Eat your heart out, Thomas Edison.

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