UnderElevation Photo: designtrust.org

New York City is known for its space-saving hacks. New Yorkers have created enormous skyscrapers, designed hyper-efficient micro apartments, and even built out into the water.

According to The Design Trust for Public Space, the next wave of infrastructure will be built underneath the city’s elevated transit systems like subways.

Its website reads: “Underneath New York City’s 700 miles of elevated bridges, highways, subway and rail lines lies millions of square feet of public space — nearly four times the size of Central Park — with the potential to radically transform life in the city.”

The Design Trust recently released “Under the Elevated,” a publication that envisions innovative uses for the spaces under elevated transportation infrastructure across all five boroughs. The organization hopes that its work inspires cities all over the world.

In an article on Smithsonian.com, writer Heather Hansman explored seven ways that New York City can  capitalize on the unused space under elevated trains and highways. She provided an overview of The Design Trust’s in-progress and upcoming projects like a rock climbing wall and hiking trails in Highbridge Park and an electric car charging station with a restroom and a snack stand under the Queensboro Bridge.

In partnership with the Department of Transportation, The Design Trust is focusing on the Gowanus Expressway, Division Street in Chinatown, Southern Boulevard in the Bronx, Broadway Junction in Brooklyn and Kew Gardens in addition to the Queensboro Bridge and Highbridge Park.

Division Street under the Manhattan Bridge landing in Chinatown has already benefitted from the project, and is slated for more innovation in the future. Last summer, The Design Trust installed temporary benches and seats in the area, which are already in use.

According to Hansman, its plans for the future include green walls to help with noise and air pollution as well as a lit pedestrian plaza.

Check out more works-in-progress at Smithsonian.com and follow @bbhnyc for more on urban innovation in New York City.

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