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Art & Design

Renovated High Line Now Open for Strolling

Librado Romero/The New York Times

The newly opened High Line public park. More Photos >

Published: June 8, 2009

Standing on a newly renovated stretch of an elevated promenade that was once a railway line for delivering cattle — surrounded by advocates, elected officials and architects who made the transformation happen — Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg cut a red ribbon on Monday morning to signify that the first phase of the High Line is finished and ready for strolling.

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Librado Romero/The New York Times

A view along the newly opened High Line public park. More Photos >

Calling the High Line, which opens to the public on Tuesday, “an extraordinary gift to our city’s future,” Mr. Bloomberg said, “Today we’re about to unwrap that gift.” He added, “It really does live up to its highest expectations.”

The first portion of the three-section High Line, which runs near the Hudson River from Gansevoort Street to West 20th Street, will be open daily from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. There are entrances at Gansevoort Street (stairs) and at 16th Street (elevator); exits are located every few blocks.

The second phase, which extends to 30th Street, is under construction and expected to be completed by fall 2010. The third phase, up to 34th Street, has yet to be approved.

The High Line project is something of a New York fairy tale, given that it started with a couple of guys who met at a community board meeting in 1999 — Joshua David, a writer, and Robert Hammond, a painter — and discovered they shared a fervent interest in saving the abandoned railroad trestle, which had been out of commission since 1980 and was slated for demolition during the Giuliani administration. That began a decade-long endeavor that involved rescuing the structure and enlisting the Bloomberg administration in its preservation and renovation.

Scott M. Stringer, the Manhattan borough president, called the project “a great West Side story.”

The City Council speaker, Christine C. Quinn, described it as “a miracle of perseverance,” and said, “The idea could easily have gone into a file, ‘great ideas that will never happen.’ ”

With all the bureaucratic hurdles that the project had to overcome, it was fitting that so many representatives of different arms of local government were there for Monday’s celebratory news conference, including Amanda M. Burden, the city planning commissioner; Adrian Benepe, the parks commissioner; Representative Jerrold Nadler, Democrat of New York; and Seth W. Pinsky, the president of the New York City Economic Development Corporation. Also present were two couples who have been the project’s major benefactors — Diane von Furstenberg, the fashion designer, and her husband, the media mogul Barry Diller, and Philip Falcone, a hedge fund billionaire, and his wife, Lisa Maria Falcone.

The walkway, designed by James Corner Field Operations and Diller Scofidio & Renfro, includes more than 100 species of plants that were inspired by the wild seeded landscape left after the trains stopped running, Mr. Bloomberg said. He added that the High Line has helped to further something of a renaissance in the neighborhood; more than 30 new projects are planned or under construction nearby.

One of those projects includes a new satellite for the Whitney Museum of American Art, designed by Renzo Piano, which will anchor the base of the High Line at Gansevoort. The mayor announced on Monday that the city was finalizing a land sale contract with the museum.

The first two sections of the High Line cost $152 million, Mr. Bloomberg said, $44 million of which was raised by Friends of the High Line, the group that led the project.

All of the speakers’ comments echoed the triumphal subject line of an e-mail message sent out by Friends of the High Line right after the festivities had concluded: “We did it.”