While you may have never heard of the term “bioswale,” you have probably seen these curbside gardens throughout the city. A bioswale, or rain garden, is a pit dug into the sidewalk that’s been filled with rocky soil and shrubbery. These gardens absorb polluted stormwater and prevent runoff that could seep into waterways through the sewer system. Despite being an effective solution to water pollution, the New York Times reports that some city residents are crying out against find bioswales, calling them unattractive, messy, and hotbeds for trash and pests.
New York has undertaken several projects over the years in an effort to beautify its stark, gridded streets. There was the Park Avenue Malls, turning major intersections like those at Madison Square and Times Square into seating and entertainment areas, bike lanes, and Summer Streets. But this new proposal from Perkins Eastman Architects certainly puts the rest to shame, as they’d like to turn a more-than-40-block stretch of Broadway into one big linear park.
First spotted by Dezeen, the Green Line concept envisions a park that stretches along Broadway from Columbus Circle to Union Square, connecting these two hubs with Madison Square, Herald Square, and Times Square. The park would be open only to pedestrians and bicyclists, save for emergency vehicles needing to bypass traffic. Unlike other linear parks like the High Line and Lowline, the Green Line would be at street level, creating what the architects feel is “much needed active and passive recreational space in the heart of the city.”
What’s a bioswale? (We know that’s what you’re saying to yourself.) It’s a curbside garden built to absorb stormwater. The city currently has about 255 of them, but will be installing an additional 2,000 throughout Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx to prepare for the possibility of more intense storms in the future. Not only will the bioswales absorb an estimated 200 million gallons of stormwater each year, but they’ll therefore mitigate pollution in the Bronx River, Flushing Bay, Gowanus Canal, Jamaica Bay and Newtown Creek.