The Vessel

The new Hudson Yards are intended to revive a formerly industrial area of Manhattan and provide new (luxury) housing.  The complex is built over massive rail yards – still partially visible pending planned development to come.  

The Railyards

The draw for non-residents, in addition to views, retail and restaurants, is the Vessel, a structure Conceived by British designer (not an architect), Thomas Heatherwick, comprising only 154 flights of stairs, 2,500 steps, and 80 landings and one unorthodox (cog driven, un-shafted) elevator.  (The elevator is not available to all visitors; contact the Vessel about permitted use.)  

In an Escher

It offers a dizzying experience (with novel views and perspectives) – not so much for its height but for the lack of enclosing walls and right angles. Further, the bottom of each of the many tiers of stairs is clad in polished copper so moving reflections are constantly pulling your eye in unexpected directions and further challenging your sense of balance.  The numerous flights are nicely graded for easy climbing but handrails are useful to anchor yourself in space from time to time.  There are many perspectives that make you feel as if you were dropped into an Escher drawing.  

Arriving on the No. 7 Train

The 7 train will get you almost to its foot.  I visited on a day cold, windy and brilliant.  The wind may be exacerbated by the surrounding construction but it may add to the thrill of the experience – provided you can hold onto your hat.

Exiting the Hudson Yards Subway

The Vessel has garnered lots of colorful and snarky criticism: see e.g., the Baffler, The New Yorker and The New York Times, but it appeals, as did Cristo and Jeanne-Claude’s Gates, as a personal experience generating ideas and conversation and some genuine “gee whiz!” moments.  It is brassy and aggressive, arguably vacuous and senseless, but it is very typically NYC, and it may well become a significant draw.  

From the foot

As of this date, access to the Vessel is free – but requires tickets for crowd control, available on line (here) and as available, at the site.  Also typically NYC, when you attempt to book tickets online, you have to wait in line, on-line, before you can do so.  This is apparently a sign of things to come.  One has to laugh.  

All photos by Fred R. Cohen. See more of his photos on his website.

Northern Plaza from the Vessel
A View from the Vessel
Stairs Unemcumbered by the Structure
The Vessel Neighbors
The View Up the Center
About Fred R. Cohen (35 Articles)
Fred Cohen, a NYC-based photographer, has been taking pictures for over four decades. His work has been published by Harry N. Abrams, Time Magazine and The New York Times. He does commissioned work and sells images from his extensive library. You can see his more casual work on face book and are welcome to visit his website at