A new public park converted from a superannuated elevated roadway near Seoul Station in the center of the capital was opened to the public on Saturday after years of construction.
The construction project for the Seoul Station elevated park began in 2014, when Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon declared a Seoul version of Manhattan's High Line Park after visiting the grassy elevated area in New York.
At that time, Park revealed a plan to transform the old Seoul Station elevated road built in 1970 into a new landmark public park both for residents and visitors, instead of its dismantlement.
The 1,024-meter-long and 10.3-meter-wide elevated road, which was used by vehicles visiting Seoul Station for 45 years, has been converted into a park full of green trees and flowers, officials at the Seoul Metropolitan Government said.
The government said the new park, dubbed "Seoullo 7017" for its completion in 1970 and rebirth in 2017, opened to the public at 10 a.m. Saturday, with a formal opening ceremony slated for 8 p.m. the same day.
It noted that about 24,000 flower and tree pots have been installed along the elevated park, while restaurants, flower shops, a library, marionette theater, benches and other facilities will provide convenience to citizens and tourists.
Particularly for the convenience of foreign tourists, the so-called "Seoullo Tourist Cafe" will offer various tourism information and luggage storage services. Tourists can also use copying, scanning and fax machines at the cafe.
Seoullo 7017 is also connected to many tourist attractions, including Namdaemun Market, ancient fortress walls and a renowned cathedral, via elevators and escalators, officials said, adding a variety of performances, exhibitions, experience programs and parties will take place throughout the year.
After sunset, the elevated park will turn into a kind of Milky Way due to colorful lights emitted from 555 LED lamps and another 551 lamps attached to the flower pots, they explained.
"We wish for Seoullo 7017 to be a new urban rest area that will be loved by many citizens and tourists," said a Seoul official. "We also expect an influx of many visitors to the elevated park will help revitalize businesses in the Seoul Station area."
Shortly after its opening, the elevated park was crowded with hundreds of citizens and tourists.
Yang Hwa-yeop, a 67-year-old woman who came with her husband from Anyang, south of Seoul, said,"In the past I used this road a lot to visit Namdaemun Market. It's far better now and looks good with a lot of trees."
Jang Nu-ru, a 38-year-old housewife, said the park is good and convenient for children to play in.
A Canadian tourist said the idea of creating this green space in the downtown area is remarkable and this park will likely be a special space. (Yonhap)