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Navigating the Vessel, New York City's New Attraction

Ellen Levitt

Posted on April 6, 2019 20:53

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New Yorkers and visitors are talking about the Vessel, a strange new climbable piece of art on Manhattan's far west side.

New Yorkers and visitors to NYC are talking about the Vessel (TKA), a highly unusual piece of art that can be climbed. It recently opened in the newly developed Hudson Yards neighborhood of Manhattan's far West Side. The Vessel is being praised, mocked, questioned and slammed for its design, cost, symbolic place in modern Manhattan, and more.

Designed by Thomas Heatherwick, it consists of 154 interconnecting flights of stairs, nearly 2,500 steps and 80 landings, plus one elevator. You can get free tickets at www.hudsonyardsnewyork.com and if it's not too busy, there are even tickets available for walk-up visitors.

This part of Manhattan has long been underutilized, with the Javits Center convention center one of its few popular sites. Train lines and docks used to dominate this area. But in September 2015 a new subway train station was opened at 34th Street and 11th Avenue, and during the past several years there has been a great deal of new construction undertaken here. Hence the Hudson Yards development, which is being touted by many, decried by others for its vast changes, its sweep (including the demolition of more modest businesses and buildings in the area) and acknowledged for all the jobs it is providing.

Back to the Vessel structure itself. I'd seen photographs of it and wanted to experience it first-hand, even if it is being lambasted and called "the metal shwarma," "the ugliest thing today" and much worse. At first it seemed difficult to obtain a ticket, but when I went online to get a same-day ticket, it only took about ten minutes of waiting.

I traveled to Manhattan on the Q train local from my Brooklyn home station (Kings Highway), most of the way chatting with my friend Lynne who boarded two stops later. At 42nd Street-Times Square, typically one of the most hectic stations in the MTA subway system, I transferred easily to the 7 train and went one station west. The 34th Street-Hudson Yards station has a lengthy escalator ride out onto the street, which made me a bit dizzy the first time I took it last year.

The Vessel is easily visible once you're above ground. And it does resemble a shwarma, or an artsy lung, or a prop in a dystopian film. I got on line and within minutes, I began walking up the stairs here with dozens of other eager, curious folks.

The various panoramas of Manhattan, of New Jersey, the Hudson River and train yards and construction, were intriguing. I'd selected a day with nice weather so this was even more enjoyable. I snapped lots of photographs, and admired the views. I waved to a construction worker and he waved to me in return. Later I called out to another "What building are you working on?" and he called back "It's top secret!" (I found it's the Shed, a cultural center).

It was worth my time; to me it was more than a photo op. It was meditative.

 

Ellen Levitt

Posted on April 6, 2019 20:53

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