Update: The Lowline Lab will close on Feb. 26, 2017. The lab launched in 2015 as a temporary space to educate the community about the science and technology underpinning the future park. Although the lab is closing, the project is still moving forward and is currently working to secure funding and civic support.


Located at 140 Essex Street just off of Stanton Street, the Lowline Lab is a technical laboratory that mimics the environment of Lowline Park, a proposed underground community space built in a former trolley station. The concept behind the park is to create a green public space in one of the city’s least green and most dense neighborhoods – the Lower East Side.

The proposed site of the park is a 113-year old subterranean trolley station that runs for three blocks along Delancey Street under the Williamsburg Bridge. The site was originally opened in 1908 to service passengers riding the Williamsburg Bridge Trolley but has laid in disuse for over 50 years since trolley service was discontinued. The abandoned trolley station is directly adjacent to the active JMZ station at Essex Street, so if the park were to be realized, park visitors and subway riders would interact within the same underground park space meets subway hub. Imagining this hidden trolley station with its vaulted ceiling and rail tracks as a public green space requires creative and technical thinking as well as substantial civic support and investment. The Lowline Lab endeavors to bring all those things together.

Bringing Sunlight to the Underground Park

Sunlight for the park will be generated by the “remote skylight,” a form of solar technology created by James Ramsey, the architect and co-founder of the Lowline project. When sunlight passes through the glass of the skylight’s shield above ground, it is then reflected, gathered and directed underground to the distributor dish. The remote skylight sends enough sunlight into the space to stimulate photosynthetic reactions for the 60-plus plant species that will comprise the flora of the park, thus both causing and sustaining an underground ecosystem.

In 2012, the Lowline Lab and Exhibit Space opened as a proof of concept. It’s located two blocks from the proposed site of the park. If all goes as scheduled, the park will open to the public in 2021.

About NYC Uncovered

StreetEasy has partnered with Open House New York to create “NYC Uncovered,” a nine-part video series that celebrates our city’s amazing architecture and urban design.  Over the next two weeks, in anticipation of the popular Open House New York Weekend (Oct. 15-16), we will be releasing the videos, each of which spotlights a single site of architectural, historic or planning significance. The videos provide a behind-the-scenes look at sites New Yorkers know and love, but otherwise, might not have access to. We hope the videos enlighten, inspire and fuel your love of the complex, brilliant and ever-changing city we all call home.

Enjoy the videos and be sure to get out and explore the sites during the Open House New York Weekend!