Potential sites for the Under the Elevated project, via Design Trust for Public Space
The High Line may have revolutionized the adaptive reuse of the space atop elevated platforms, but what about that dead, dark space underneath? A new report from the Design Trust for Public Space in partnership with the Department of Transportation finds that the city has 700 miles of unused space under bridges, highways, and elevated subway tracks, much of which can be “transformed into valuable community assets such as small public parks, retail space and places for manufacturers to set up shop,” according to Crain’s.
Titled Under the Elevated: Reclaiming Space, Connecting Communities, the report was compiled over two years, and the process included surveying the inventory of land under NYC’s bridges, highways, and elevated train lines and dividing them into seven categories: cluster, clover, highway, landing, park, span, and trestle.
Specific locations that were used as case studies include, Broadway Junction in Brooklyn, Division Street below the Manhattan Bridge, the Van Wyck Expressway at the Kew Gardens Interchange in Queens, and Southern Boulevard under the 2 and 5 subway lines at Freeman Street in the Bronx. Each spot was conceptualized based on its geography and community needs. For example, as Crain’s reports, “In Manhattan’s Highbridge Park, the report suggested the creation of art studios, retail stores or outdoor training facilities. Meanwhile in Queens, under the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge, the report proposed the installation of electrical vehicle charging stations and public restrooms. In Brooklyn, the report recommended that food trucks park in an open area below the Gowanus Expressway.”
As part of the process, the study team created two pop-up installations to serve as examples of what can happen in these unused spaces. Below the 2/5 subway lines in the Bronx, Boogie Down Booth was part of the MAS Jane Jacobs Forum. This was a seating area with speakers that played music curated by the Bronx Music Heritage Center, as well as solar-powered lights. Another pop-up was located under the Manhattan Bridge in Chinatown.
The 700 miles of space identified in the report is four times the size of Central Park. It should also be noted that the Design Trust for Public Space is the same organization that completed a study advocating for the creation of the High Line park back in 2001.
You can read the entire report here.
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