Today’s Original Schedule:
What really happened:
Michael had his workout with his trainer so he came at 10:30. We checked out of 10 Hanover and took our luggage to his place. Ubered over to the Lowline Lab.
What a fascinating place, interesting idea – I wish I’d thought of it!
The Lowline Lab is a long-term open laboratory and technical exhibit designed to test and showcase how the Lowline will grow and sustain plants underground. Built inside an abandoned market on the Lower East Side, just two blocks from the site of the proposed future Lowline, the Lowline Lab includes a series of controlled experiments in an environment mimicking the actual Lowline site.
Behind the doorway of a hulking, unassuming warehouse on Essex Street, a fascinating—and potentially game-changing—experiment is taking place. This is where you’ll find the Lowline Lab, a prototype for New York City’s first underground park, which until now has existed only as an idea. The lab, which opened to the public on Saturday, is the culmination of years of work by its creators, Dan Barasch and James Ramsey, who have been tinkering with plans for the space since at least 2008. The idea is to create a green space deep below NYC’s streets by projecting the sun’s rays down into a disused trolley station, a complicated process that the Lab is now putting on full display. “We’re kind of blown away now that it actually exists,” says Ramsey. “To our great delight, all of our equipment and technical pieces are performing in excess of our calculations.”
When visitors come to the lab, they’ll have a chance to learn about the science of the Lowline—which involves harnessing the sun’s rays with pieces of optical equipment on the roof, transferring it into the warehouse through a protective tube, and then diffusing it over the site via a canopy that stretches across the ceiling. In addition to its solar-harnessing system, the centerpiece of the lab is its huge living display, which functions as both a science experiment and an art installation. There are thousands of plants in it—from hardy moss to edible herbs to baby pineapples—which are placed in accordance to how much sunlight they need. (Fragile spearmint is closer to the light, low-lying ferns are further away.) And because it is a living, breathing installation, it’s meant to morph over time. “It’ll look different in a few months than it does right now,” says Ramsey.
That adaptability is one of the defining traits of the lab: “We’ll see how people come in and use the space, and we’re really excited about being flexible, and play[ing] with what works and what doesn’t,” says Barasch. And while they have yet to see how the Lowline technology will work long-term—this is one of many phases, and the projected opening date for the actual park is 2020—he and Ramsey are excited to see what happens next. “I feel like we’ve been toiling in obscurity for a long time, and now this is our time to show off all the work,” Barasch explains.
We were early for lunch so we walked through Tompkins park (across the street from where Michael used to live). We saw statues of others, but not Tompkins. We were surprised to see that the WCTU has a water fountain.
Lots of dogs were having fun at the dog park.
Met Lingyi at (Northern) Thai Sontum Der Restaurant. I didn’t know anything on menu but we ordered anyway. It is her favorite place. Michael had taken her there for her birthday last Wednesday (April 6). Pretty spicy-hot but good.
We walked to New York Historical Society Museum and Library.
It was very cool and had a section devoted to the World’s fair that I went to as a kid.
We also saw the Batmobile
And some uniformed Civil War soldiers teaching kids (and adults)
From there, we walked to Juilliard School Music Store, the last store in New York where you can buy sheet music.
Then we Ubered back to Michaels.
We had a bit of extra time, so we saw Trinity Church
Back to Michael’s, rested 5 minutes, got our stuff and ubered to Penn Station where we took the train home.
I woke up at 8 and still have to pack. We’re leaving for the train at 11…
So, naturally, I did some online stuff and at 9:08, I posted “We’re getting on a train at 1:02 (love how precise Amtrak is!) today so I guess I should start packing…”
Tom called for a cab to arrive at 11:15. The cab arrived about 11 and started honking his horn. Mimi started barking. I took the first bag out at 11:15. Good thing – the driver was getting ready to leave. I told him that we’d said 11:15 – he’d missed that part
We got the 3 finally packed bags to the cab and settled in, fairly early to get to Union Station.
About 15 minutes out, I asked Tom if he had his passport. He’d been thinking New York, not the cruise to Bermuda so we went back home and started again.
The rest of the trip was uneventful, if expensive. The driver was fairly talkative and carried on an interesting conversation with Tom about Sikhs and other religions. Also, immigration to the states as opposed to the UK, education here, life in India…
Finally – Union Station. Hooray!
We only had to wait in line for about 10 minutes before our train was called. Since the train originated in DC, we were able to get seats together. Hooray!
View of the next train to our left…
The ride to New York was fine. No derailments, which was really good. The train that derailed in May was Amtrak Northeast Regional Train 188. We were on Amtrak Northeast Regional Train 186. I assume that they retired #188. It seemed ridership was down a little but we were on an earlier train than usual so maybe not.
We arrived at Penn Station, NY on time and started getting in the cab line. I hate to say it, but the line was long and we fell for a gypsy cab trip. The driver didn’t take us out of our way – I was following the trip on my Waze. The driver got us to our hotel – and wanted an exorbitant amount of money (plus tip), cash only. Tom convinced him to take a lot less (and NO tip!) and we checked into the hotel.
Four Points by Sheraton SoHo is apparently built on a small lot – it’s very compact, but tall. Our room is on the small side and I think that there are only a few rooms on each floor.
We’re on the second floor and the view is a next door roof. I’ll try to get a picture of that tomorrow.
Michael arrived – hooray! After some discussion – nap or food – we decided to go out to eat. We walked through Father Fagan Park. Mimi wouldn’t consider this to be a “real park” but then, she’s not a city dog.
The first restaurant we tried could have taken us without a reservation but we’d have to eat quickly so we could be out when those who had reservations arrived. We left, allowing plenty of time for those who planned ahead.
Walking along, we read other menus until we arrived at Spice. Yummy Thai food! I had Pad Thai with tofu and Tom had the same but with chicken. Michael had rice with mixed seafood – some of the mix was squid. EEEWW.
As an afterthought, I asked for Thai tea. I was surprised, and very happy, when it came as a bubble tea. As far as I know, there are only 2 places near me with bubble tea so this was a real treat.
What You Need
1/4 cup dried boba tapioca pearls per serving (NOT quick-cooking boba)
1-2 tea bags per serving, any kind
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
Milk, almond milk, or sweetened condensed milk
Fruit juice or nectar (optional)
Bowl for holding the cooked boba
1. Cook the Boba: Measure 2 cups of water for every 1/4 cup of boba being prepared into a saucepan. Bring the water to a boil over high heat. Add the boba and stir gently until they begin floating to the top of the water.
Turn the heat to medium and cook the boba for 12-15 minutes. Remove the pan from heat, cover, and let the pearls sit for another 12-15 minutes.
2. Prepare Sugar Syrup for the Boba: While the boba are cooking, make a simple sugar syrup to sweeten and preserve them once cooked. Bring 1/2 cup of water to a boil over high heat on the stove or in the microwave. Remove from heat and stir in 1/2 cup sugar until dissolved. Set aside to cool.
3. Prepare a Strong Cup of Tea: This can be done either while the boba are cooking or ahead of time. Allow enough time for the tea to cool completely before making the boba. Bring 1 cup of water to a boil. Remove from heat and add the tea bag. Use one tea bag for regular-strength bubble tea or two for a stronger tea flavor. Remove the tea bag after 15 minutes and chill the tea.
4. Finish the Boba: Once the boba have finished cooking, drain them from the water and transfer them to a small bowl or container. Pour the sugar syrup over top until the boba are submerged. Let sit until the boba are room temperature, at least 15 minutes, or refrigerate until ready to use. Boba are best if used within a few hours of cooking, but will keep refrigerated for several days. The boba will gradually harden and become crunchy as they sit.
5. Make the Bubble Tea: Pour the prepared tea into a tall glass and add the boba. Add milk for a creamy bubble tea, juice for a fruity tea, or leave plain and add a little extra water. Sweeten to taste with the simple syrup from soaking the boba.
• Very Chilled Bubble Tea: For an extra-chilly bubble tea, combine all the tea, milk, and/or juice, but not the boba in a cocktail shaker. Add a few ice cubes and shake for 20 seconds. Pour into a tall glass and add the boba.
• Shortcut Boba: If you want immediate gratification, just cook your boba until they are tender, 5 to 10 minutes, and use them as soon as they’re cool. This kind of boba don’t [sic] keep for very long (turning rock hard in a few hours), but are delicious if eaten right away.
• Saving Leftover Boba and Making Boba for Later: Boba are best if used within a few hours of cooking, but will keep refrigerated with simple syrup for several days. The boba will gradually harden and become crunchy as they sit.
During dinner, we discussed where to go next but that was fairly indecisive. We thought about going to Tribeca park where one of the Sing For Hope pianos is located. That was going to be about a mile walk and it was about 7:00 so we went back to the hotel to use the free WiFi and find another activity. We ended up doing nothing except coming up with ideas for tomorrow.
So far: breakfast, Michael has a training session at 12:30, Barge Music, Avery Fisher Hall at the Lincoln Center in New York to hear an all-Mozart program, possibly a talk before that. Somewhere in there we need to practice some…
We’ll see how that all works out! Meanwhile, It’s 5:30 and I’m going back to sleep!