The trams have been out of service for seven months, but major renovations have improved their safety and reliability.
"The original trams - chunky red metal on the bottom half, sliding windows above - were perfect relics of mid-1970s design. Each hanging from a brightly painted arm and emblazoned with bold sans-serif type, the trams looked, more or less, like cheerful flying buses. They ran on the equivalent of a clothesline - a single loop of wire with a vehicle at each end. If one got stuck, the other got stuck, too.
The new trams, which are receiving their finishing touches in the Roosevelt Island terminal, suggest the sleek glass-and-steel towers that ate Manhattan (and parts of Brooklyn and Queens) during the last real estate boom. Boarding one is like walking into the achingly spare living room in the sales office of some new Richard Meier project."