Underneath Essex Street on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, an experiment in the future of urban development has flourished.
The world’s first underground park, the Lowline Lab, opened in October 2015 after a successful Kickstarter, offering an urban oasis for visitors while giving researchers unprecedented data on channeling sunlight underground to create green space where no one had thought it could exist before.
But at the end of February, it’s closing to make way for the usual kind of urban development.
“The Lab was only meant to be a short-term scientific experiment,” says Dan Barasch, co-founder and executive director of the Lowline Lab. This was just the first phase of a larger project to build a permanent underground park and only supposed to last six months, but intense public interest — over 100,000 visitors to date — allowed them to extend their lease. The site is one of nine that will become a massive new mixed-use development called Essex Crossing.