THE WAIT is over. And, for Dilworth Plaza, the second time's a charm. The renovation of the gateway to Penn Center was designed to forge a connection to the city's central business district west of City Hall.

Renamed Dilworth Park, the west apron of City Hall looks nothing like the version opened in 1977 - which soon became notorious for its drab concrete slabs that doubled as beds for the homeless and dark subway corridors reeking of urine.

Planned for months, yesterday's ribbon-cutting was a lovefest of who's who at the local, state and federal levels, as well as the minds and bodies that brought the project to fruition.

"Only a couple million times during the course of the year, folks would say, 'When is this going to be done?' " Mayor Nutter jested. "This is probably the most exciting project the city has seen in the last 50 years."

Hundreds of people stood in the scorching sun to witness elected leaders unveil the all-new park with its bright, open spaces, punctuated by an 11,600-square-foot programmable fountain that spouts recycled rainwater in peak seasons. Not more than 30 minutes after remarks from officials came to a close, children were frolicking in the spray.

A wide lawn on the south end of the park is still under construction and should open this fall.

The Center City District has a long-term lease with the city to maintain Dilworth Park for the next 30 years.