NEW YORK—The idea of utilizing 1.5 acres of vacant space next to the Essex Street subway station for an underground park is moving forward with a month long preview called Let there be light, exhibited at Mark Miller’s gallery in the Lower East Side.
The space that would be a park is an abandoned trolley stop that hasn’t been touched since the 1940s. James Ramsey, owner and founder of architecture firm RAAD Studio, and Delancey Underground, created a skylight that can collect light from aboveground and carry it underground through fiber-optic cables.
“I donated my gallery to the Delancey Underground guys because I think it is a great idea and amazing for New York,” said Miller. “I am hoping that this project will bring new ideas and technologies to the city of New York. It will bring more foot traffic to the Lower East Side, which will be good for retail businesses, restaurants, and the community.”
At the exhibit is a prototype skylight, a life-size rendering of how the park could look and feel, and a 3-D model of the proposed park.
Gallery visitor and longtime Lower East Side resident Emily Armstrong said, “I think this so great. I can’t wait to see it.”
A Kickstarter campaign has raised almost $150,000 for the project. With this money, Ramsey and co-founder Dan Barasch plan on building a full-scale park mock-up this September in an abandoned warehouse on Delancey Street, which in the past was used as a market.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority released a video last September showing off the abandoned trolley stop as having potential for development. However, when the MTA recently released nine Requests for Proposals to develop properties they own, the abandoned trolley stop was not included on the list.
Additional reporting by Benjamin Chasteen