On our first visit to NYC I loved the charm of the High Line (definitely a place I'll write about soon) so I was super eager to explore its underground counterpart, the Lowline.
Yes, I know that some plants can grow underground, it isn't news to me, but there is something about this idea that sparks images of post-apocalyptic New York and a quirky underground botanist who couldn't bear the idea of not being able to see beautiful greenery ever again. So we put aside an afternoon and set off for the Lower East Side to discover that it's not really about plants that grow with little light... they use solar technology to make normal light seeking plants grow in dark dingy places. Pretty cool, right?
In all honesty, I should have done my research, I was expecting to descend miles underground and explore a vast underground park, rich with vegetation (which isn't far off their plan for the future). However, when we rocked up to the Lowline, it was more like an abandoned roadside warehouse with its windows blacked out, very much above ground, and only took about 15 minutes to take in. The 'park' itself looks like a mini island of deep green made up of many varieties of plants, my favorite being 'Mother in-law's tongue'... who thought of that?
This project is in its very early days and it still needs support to make it a larger scale reality, and although it wasn't as grand as I'd hoped, it was really peaceful and informative with a vibe akin to a hipster start up company and best of all... it's free!
We walked in through subway turnstiles and through an exhibition about the hopes and dreams for the Lowline and it was interesting and exciting to see what it could, eventually, be. The proposed site is an old trolley terminal that is no longer in use and "despite six decades of neglect, the space still retains some incredible features, like remnant cobblestones, crisscrossing rail tracks and vaulted ceilings" (Lowline website). The desire to revamp old, disused parts of the city is a love letter to New York and is only part of what makes this city full of innovation whilst maintaining the integrity of its history. It's not just about knocking down the old and bringing in the new, it's also about finding a way to make them work together in true representation of what New York is, a melting pot.
It's not a grand and impressive sight... yet, but I do hope that the plans keep ploughing (or "plowing" over here in the US) forward and that the proof of concept that is open at present will drum up the necessary funds, as it will certainly have the bragging rights one day.