The High Line is finally done! The third and final phase of the elevated park was officially opened on Saturday at a ceremony held near its south end directly above West 31st Street. A long procession of colorfully-dressed volunteers, community members, and people otherwise associated with the High Line's development—ranging from design firm employees to local LGBT groups (including the ever-entertaining Lesbian & Gay Big Apple Corps Marching Band)—marched down the length of the existing High Line bearing flags and giant puppets.
A number of dignitaries spoke, including Friends of the High Line co-founder and President Joshua David, board member Edward Norton (yes, the one who punched Brad Pitt in the ear), Senator Chuck Schumer (who proudly biked there and was flanked all afternoon by a helmet-bearing assistant), City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer, Congressman Jerrold Nadler, and City Council Member Corey Johnson. Most of them spoke about the remarkable amount of effort taken over the years to convert abandoned, dilapidated rail tracks originally designed for transporting meat into one of the city's most vibrant green spaces and a major tourist attraction. Nadler interestingly noted that former mayor Rudy Giuliani wanted to sign the order to tear down the structure, but couldn't because of several court rulings. A communal lunch, provided by Fairway, was served near the new northern terminus after the ribbon-cutting.
Phase Three stretches from the High Line's previous northern terminus above West 30th Street and Tenth Avenue, along Twelfth Avenue overlooking the Hudson River and Penn Station's West Side Yard (read: lots of LIRR trains), to West 34th Street across from the Javits Center. The 34th Street entrance is the first and only grade-level, non-elevated entry into the park.
In addition to the usual features and aesthetic of the existing High Line, Phase Three also includes The Evolution of God, an installation by Argentine artist Adrián Villar Rojas consisting of large cement and clay blocks, designed to gradually crumble between now and next summer. Several original rail switches have been retrofitted with colorful signals, designed to be played with by future visitors. An additional permanent feature, Pershing Square Beams, also opened today. In an enclosed area above 11th Avenue, the concrete deck is removed to show the High Line's original structural beams and girders, coated in silicone to serve as a safe children's play area.