The second section of the High Line, New York City’s celebrated garden-in-the-sky, opened earlier this week. Built 30ft above the streets, on a long -abandoned, elevated freight rail line, the public park is now double in size.

The High Line, initially opened in June 2009 and now a mile long, runs from Gansevoort Street to West 30th Street, connecting three neighborhoods along Manhattan’s West Side:  the Meatpacking District, West Chelsea and Midtown West.

The first day after the opening, it was a sweltering 95 degrees, but that didn’t stop the joggers, tourists, mothers with babies in tow and neighborhood workers from strolling along the new stretch, which begins at West 20th Street  and conforms to the same design and landscaping as the older section. From its treehouse perspective, modern-day archaeologists and architecture enthusiasts can take in rooftop gardens, slices of gritty urban life and views of the Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building. The experience combines an old-fashioned promenade with the floating feeling of a hot air balloon.

Nature lovers will enjoy the plantings, inspired by the naturally growing grasses and wildflowers that sprouted up after trains stopped running in 1980. The design is a mix of concrete pathways, ample seating areas and architectural features.

Some notable additions include a large modern bird-feeder, a new viewing station that overlooks West 26th Street and a flat, grassy expanse, ideal for sunbathing, reading a book, picnicking and people watching.

To commemorate the opening, there are new public art installations and more than 100 family-friendly events planned for the summer season, including dance performances, poetry readings, art workshops, nature scavenger hunts and film screenings. The Lot, a temporary public plaza under and adjacent to the High Line at West 30th Street, will be open through the summer and will feature a rotating series of food trucks and an outdoor bar operated by Colicchio & Sons. A variety of domestic wines and local beers will be served, including Brooklyn High Line Elevated Wheat, a special brew made by Brooklyn Brewery with ingredients from New York.

The High Line is free, and open daily at 7 am. In summer, it remains open until 11 pm and until 8 pm during the rest of the year. It is fully wheelchair-accessible.

The little patch of Manhattan paradise has come a long way since the tracks were raised from street level in 1934. If you go anytime soon, don’t forget some cold water and a sun hat.