By TOM TOPOUSIS
Last updated: 2:50 am
June 8, 2009
Posted: 1:59 am
June 8, 2009
* Break out the velvet ropes -- for a new park.
Tomorrow's long-awaited public opening of High Line Park in the uber-trendy Meatpacking District is expected to be such a hot ticket that city officials are prepared to turn people away while letting in the lucky ones on a first-come, first-served basis.
Mayor Bloomberg is expected to cut the ribbon on the first of two sections of the High Line today, with the public allowed in the park beginning tomorrow morning.
With anticipation building over the High Line's opening, the Parks Department plans to limit the number of visitors at any time to 1,700 to maintain safety, even issuing plastic wrist bracelets to those allowed in.
Eventually, with construction complete, officials expect they won't have to count heads.
The High Line, a spectacular park atop an old railroad trestle, has become the darling of the city's celebrity set, with fans including designers Diane von Furstenberg and Ralph Lauren.
At a preview party last week, Jerry Seinfeld, Barry Diller, Barbara Walters, Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins sipped champagne and snacked on shrimp while watching the sunset over New York Harbor from their park perch high above the street.
By some accounts, the coming of High Line Park -- which laces from the Meatpacking District up through west Chelsea -- has sparked roughly $900 million in new development along the surrounding blocks running from Gansevoort to 30th streets.
Built in the 1930s to carry freight, the High Line runs through the middle of blocks -- and even buildings -- between 10th and 11th avenues, offering an intimate view of the city and preserving a legacy of New York's industrial past.
* Even before the conversion to a park, grasslands dotted with wild flowers and populated by birds had taken root in the deep soil of the rail trestle, which was last used for freight in 1980.
The High Line was slated for demolition during the Giuliani administration.
By 2002, with Mayor Bloomberg's solid backing, it was formally saved, and the city threw its weight behind creating the park.