HOUSTON - In the heart of Houston's Third Ward there was reason to celebrate on Saturday morning as the City unveiled Emancipation Park, re-dedicating the historic 11-acre property.

"I've been coming here a long time," said 81-year-old Dorothy Scales.

The land was bought in 1872 by former slaves as a place to get together and celebrate their freedom. It was one of few places in Houston where African Americans were allowed to gather at the time.

"Look at where we are today," said Mayor Sylvester Turner.

Turner and other city and national leaders celebrated how far society's come, opening Emancipation Park to the public again.

"They turned it around, 100, 150 percent, they turned it around," said Sandra Netter.

Together through private and public partnership, nearly $34 million were invested into Emancipation Park to turn it into one of the country's most state of the art green spaces.

"This is one historical day," said Lawrence Simmons. "And I'm proud to be a part of it. Thank God I lived long enough to see this."

The park has a modern new pool, a tennis court, basketball courts, plus a recreation and community center for all types of events.

It is a jewel in the Third Ward, a place Mayor Turner says will continue to improve the neighborhood for the people who have long called it home.

"The best of this area has yet to come," said Turner.