A new green underground park for Manhattan

In  a city where real estate for parks is virtually non-existent, something special and unique is being considered in New York City – a subterranean park filled with greenery and natural light.

As a former New Yorker , I know that the city’s underground teams with scores of never completed or abandoned trolley and subway tunnels. Most New Yorkers aren’t aware of these tunnels. But three entrepreneurs are teaming up to turn one that lies under the Lower East Side into an urban wonder.

The Delancey unused tunnel today

James Ramsey, a former NASA satellite engineer turned architect; Dan Barasch, an executive at the social innovation network PopTech; and R. Boykin Curry IV, a partner at Eagle Capital, an investment firm based in New York hope to turn a two-acre former trolley tunnel into what they’re calling the Delancey Underground.

Ramsey has created technology that’s designed to harvest natural sunlight underground, allowing trees and plants to grow.

Solar technology via fiber optics would provide photosynthesis for plants underground

The key,  says Ramsey, is the “remote skylight,” a system that channels sunlight along fiber-optic cables, filtering out harmful ultraviolet and infrared light but keeping the wavelengths used in photosynthesis. “We’re channeling sunlight the way they did in ancient Egyptian tombs, but in a super modern way.” Ramsey’s vision is a grove of dozens of lamppost-like solar collectors on the Delancey Street median that feed into a system of fixtures below.

An intriguing idea, and one that’s got some precedent, albeit above ground.

The Delancey Underground would be a garden oasis under the Big Apple

In 2009, a former elevated train line was transformed into the High Line, a lush, 4.75 acre above-ground garden oasis amidst the hustle-bustle of the Big Apple.

If Ramsey and his partners get the go-ahead from the MTA, this new park could bring New York to the head of the line for innovation and technology and create an exciting, one-of-a-kind park for New Yorkers to be proud of.

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