An elevated railway line which once carried freight over the tough streets of New York's Meatpacking District reopened Monday as the city's newest and trendiest park.
Snaking on trestles through the fashionable lower Manhattan neighborhood, the High Line Park combines views of the Hudson River, wild vegetation, and echoes of New York's industrial history.
The park follows a rail line dating to the 1930s and seemed fated for the wrecking ball, like other relics of the city's grittier past, after the final freight train rumbled over in 1980.
"Rather than destroying this valuable piece of our history, we have recycled it into an innovative and exciting park that will provide more outdoor space for our citizens and create jobs and economic benefits for our City," Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced at the opening ceremony, his office said.
"Ten years ago, detractors thought the High Line was an eyesore. Thankfully, there were a handful of people who looked at the High Line and saw also an extraordinary gift to our city?s future. Today, we will unwrap that gift," he added.
A first section was due to open to the public on Tuesday, with a second section, stretching 10 city blocks, set to be completed some time next year.
A similar project has been built in Paris, but the High Line Park is the first of its kind in the United States, the mayor's office said.
Inspiration for the 152-million-dollar project came during the years when the line was abandoned and fans noticed wild, self-seeding vegetation conquer the disused tracks.
Those tracks remain, as do the original Art-Deco railings, all blending into new pathways, seats angled toward the sunset, and naturalistic style planting.
The park is already a hotspot for the city's trendy elite. Designer Diane von Furstenberg is one of the A-list backers of the project and last week several Hollywood actors attended a champagne preview.