Proposal for Development of the City's 700 Shadowy Miles of Overlooked Underpass

Wallabout Street and Broadway beneath J/M/Z underpass in Brooklyn
Wallabout Street and Broadway beneath J/M/Z underpass in Brooklyn

A recent report from the Design Trust for Public Space and the NYC Department of Transportation points to the need to utilize creatively the oft-neglected spaces beneath elevated highways and railways, like the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, the J/M/Z lines in north Brooklyn, and the F and D lines in the south.

Some issues with these underused spaces relate to noise from passing traffic, garbage that collects near the curbs and the lack of adequate illumination. Implemented experiments for the "el-spaces" have included the construction of bike and pedestrian paths in Staten Island and various initiatives in the Bronx and Chinatown designed to draw people to these spaces. For example,

The "Boogie Down Booth" on the Bronx’s Southern Boulevard alongside the elevated tracks offered seating and played tracks from local artists like Thelonius Monk and Grandmaster Flash to counteract train noise.

However, with the High Line in Chelsea as a cautionary tale, proposals will need to consider the relationship between gentrification and these types of neighborhood initiatives.

Got any good ideas?

Akiva Blander

Akiva Blander

Contributing Writer

Akiva Blander is a Brooklyn-based writer and editor.

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