The Olympic Park re-opened to the public this morning for the first time since the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic games.
The games may have ended 19 months ago but the action at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Stratford never stopped.
The park, now dubbed the “Southbank for the East End”, has seen a £300m re-design by the London Legacy Development Corporation from former Olympic site into the biggest new park in Europe for 150 years.
Dennis Hone, Chief Executive of London Legacy Development Corporation, said: “The opening of Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park is not the end of the transformation story.”
“We are building a new heart of east London creating jobs, building new homes, and bringing in investment, culture and education with partners like the Victoria and Albert Museum and University College London. It is a truly exciting time for all Londoners and we encourage people to come and see Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park for themselves.”
The south of the park was masterminded by James Corner Field Operations, the firm responsible for designing the High Line in New York, a linear, elevated park, spanning a mile in length along the lower west-side of Manhattan.
Features of this lower side of the park include a tree-lined promenade, with 100 trees strung with unique globe-lighting, an interactive water-fountain and an adventure playground.
The south side also boasts four themed walking trails, which explore the key sights of the London 2012 Olympic games, the new parks biodiversity, family fun in the park, and arts and culture.
Mayor of London Boris Johnson, who previewed the park with Prince Harry yesterday, said that the re-opening marks a historic chapter in London’s post-Olympic Story.
“Our city’s newest park is crammed with spectacular attractions and activities set in acres of stunning green spaces. This is now a must-see destination for Londoners and visitors alike and forms a glittering centre piece for our ambitious regeneration plans in Stratford and beyond.”
Visitors to the park will also be able to ascend the ArcelorMittal Orbit, a sculpture rising more than 100 meters designed by Anish Kapoor and Cecil Balmond.
The ArcelorMittal Orbit is the largest piece of public art in Britain, and doubles as a viewing platform with a 20-mile view of London.
It offers a different perspective on the capital from the Shard and London Eye, with discount tickets available to host borough residents.
Vicky Martin, General Manager of the ArcelorMittal Orbit, said: “The ArcelorMittal Orbit was an icon of the London 2012 Games and we’re thrilled that both local people and tourists will once again be able to admire the views into the city and over the Park.”
The re-opening of the iconic park will be marked by a number of events over the weekend, including a parade by 250 local children and taster sessions for sports and fitness activities.
By Antoni Devlin