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New York's proposed subterranean garden


September 27, 2011

The Delancey Project hopes to create New York's very first subterranean green space (Image: Delancey Underground)

The Delancey Project hopes to create New York's very first subterranean green space (Image: Delancey Underground)

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Three New York entrepreneurs have unveiled plans to turn a long abandoned underground train terminal into a lush and thriving garden. Conceived by architect James Ramsey, VP of the PopTech social innovation network Dan Barasch and money manager R. Boykin Curry IV, the Delancey Underground Project hopes to create New York's first subterranean green space beneath one of the city's least green zones - the Lower East Side - in an unused rail space that stretches over two acres and is nearly the size of Gramercy Park.

James Ramsey came up with the idea a few years back when he was talking with a MTA (Metropolitan Transportation Authority) engineer, who told him about several "lost" subway spaces in New York.

"It got me thinking about how we might actually occupy them again as public spaces," Ramsey told Gizmag. "The simplest solution to making them spaces someone might actually want to be in was to introduce natural light, which made for a natural pairing with the technology."

Ramsey, a former NASA engineer specializing in satellite technologies, has created technology designed to harvest natural sunlight underground, enabling plants and trees to grow.

This system would use a network of fiber-optic cables to channel natural sunlight underground, capturing the wavelengths vital for photosynthesis. The sunlight would be collected from a series of panels positioned above ground on Delancey Street.

"Plants can definitely grow underground says Ramsey, "provided lighting, temperature, and water levels are all engineered appropriately."

It's hoped that this one-of-a-kind project will influence the way people think about infrastructure.

"It can be something beautiful," says Ramsey. "And of course, as proud New Yorkers, we want to help put NYC back at the forefront of innovation and technology by creating a landmark we can all get excited about!"

Currently the team are in discussions with the MTA and the local community boards about the proposed project.

Source: The Delancey Underground Project via New York Magazine

About the Author
Bridget Borgobello Bridget is an experienced freelance writer, presenter and performer with a keen eye for innovative design and a passion for green technology. Australian born, Bridget currently resides in Rome and when not scribbling for Gizmag, she spends her time developing new web series content and independent cinema. All articles by Bridget Borgobello

what a lovely idea,,,,,,, and there was me thinking fibre optics were all about telephones !


the rats will love it!

Facebook User

It makes me wonder why the space was abandoned in the first place.


I think it is a great use of the space. It will lift spirits; especially in winter where there is cold and a feeling of gloom. It will be an oasis of green. :)


The technology to do the light has been around for a while- see 3M light pipe and 3M light fibre

But not sure if it would be a place I would like to be at night - perhaps they will lock the gates or use solar lighting powered from batteries charged during the day.

Martin Yale

Check out this link as well to see how the sunlight delviery system is already available

Martin Yale

Sure, it\'s a very ingenious and creative way to utilize the space. The criminals will love it too! Just like Central Park.

Todd Norton
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