01 December 2011

I love New York so much it hurts sometimes; the Delancy Street "Low Line"

This is the Williamsburg Bridge.

It connects the Lower East Side of Manhattan with Mid Brooklyn and on its Brooklyn side, it marks the start of the Brooklyn Queens Expressway. On the Manhattan side, The Williamsburg  crosses over Roosevelt Drive and what appear to be endless housing blocks.

The approach to the Williamsburg is Delancey Street, a pretty non-descript patch of well-traveled road that looks like the rest of the Lower East Side.

 However, underneath Delancey is an abandoned rail yard.

It's but one of countless abandoned rail yards in Manhattan and it always amazes me that the city with the most expensive real estate values in the US has so many under utilized nooks and crannies.

A couple of years ago, an abandoned, elevated railway was turned into New York's now-legendary High Line. However, a couple of forward thinkers have an similar idea for the Delancey Street only instead of a High Line, they've come up with the idea that's come to be known as the Low Line.

The Delancy Underground is its official name and at this point it's in the process of raising money to make the dream a reality. I remember when the High Line was in a similar situation and just look at it now. I have no doubt that the Delancey Underground will happen and based on the speed of the High Line's development and conversion, it will happen pretty quickly.

However, the Delancey Underground is very different from the High Line, primarily because it's underground. However, the plan for the Delancey calls for a host of sky lights, solar collectors and fiber optics to bring the light of day underground. The light levels underneath Delancey Street will be intense enough for trees, shrubs, flowers and grasses to grow. check out these renderings.

It's going to be amazing and if any city in the world can pull this off, New York's definitely the one. No where else in the world can mount projects on the scale New York can and nowhere else on earth can channel ambition and vision the way New York does so regularly.

Man I love that town and the Delancey Underground is one more reason to hold it in as high a regard as I do.

New Yorkers aside, what public space initiatives has your city undertaken? Are publicly-funded, public spaces important and worthwhile? Talk to me about this stuff.


  1. Wow, this is a very slick concept. San Diego does a fair amount of public space initiatives, but mostly just with Balboa Park, and even those take a long time to realize. There are entirely too many nay-sayers who tend to get in the way of that sort of thing. Balboa Park has always been the city’s jewel, but lots of the necessary renovation work that is done is accomplished by private citizens forming committees and raising the necessary funds. That’s how the organ pavilion was rehabilitated some years ago. My understanding is that outdoor organs were once the rage, but now there are only three left in the USA, and San Diego’s is the only one that actually works. We’ve been to a few of those concerts and enjoyed them a lot.

  2. It's interesting and sad to watch a society neglect its public sphere and New York sets an example for the rest of us to follow.

  3. Cool renderings. Who did those?

  4. thanks! Kibum Park from my studio did those

  5. Thanks for the heads up James!


Talk to me!