Hudson Yards, the much-ballyhooed, 28-acre expanse on Manhattan’s far West Side, is more than shops and luxury condos. Still to come is a $500 million arts center, the Shed, opening April 5. But why wait?
Newly open to the public, in the site’s first phase, are exhibits, dazzling views and a variety of places for a good, quick bite. Here’s the best of what Hudson Yards offers right now — starting with Vessel, a giant work of art unlike anything we’ve seen in the city, with nearly 2,500 steps for New Yorkers to climb.
Stairway to heaven
Stephen Ross, billionaire founder of the Related Companies, Hudson Yards’ co-developer, says Vessel is a temporary name for the 150-foot-high, $200 million structure — a final name is up for public input. Ross and I enter its 50-foot-wide base for a recent pre-opening tour and start climbing its 154 flights of stairs.
“You can’t experience this anywhere,” Ross says.
He’s right. Designed by Thomas Heatherwick and his London-based Heatherwick Studio, Vessel is an interactive artwork made entirely of staircases that make you feel as if you’re in a giant honeycomb, surrounded on all sides by copper-colored steel.
I follow Ross up the easy-to-climb, pre-cast concrete steps. As we ascend, the structure gradually widens.
I pause on one of its 80 landings, suddenly realizing that each one of them connects to four separate staircases that take you in one of four directions: north, south, east and west. From the get-go, you could climb up or down in any direction you want. There’s an elevator on the southern end that makes two stops on the way to the eighth and top floor.
On the way up, you’ll get a great view of the Hudson River and Weehawken, NJ. As you climb higher, the views gradually open to the Upper West Side to the north and Greenwich Village to the south.
Even so, Stuart Wood, of Heatherwick Studio, suggests you look elsewhere. “The best views are inward,” he says.
By that he means Vessel’s polished steel. It reflects everything on the ground, including the pedestrians.
But the cherry on top comes at the summit, 150 feet above ground, when you suddenly see the spire of the Empire State Building.
Vessel is open every day from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., weather permitting. Timed tickets are free, but you can stay as long as you like. HudsonYardsNewYork.com/Discover/Vessel
Room to dream
Natural light from floor-to-ceiling windows floods an industrial-looking space on the second level of the retail and dining complex that is 20 Hudson Yards. There’s no artificial light at all here: just some 100 white columns standing anywhere from 18 inches to 12 feet high.
Welcome to Snark Park, an immersive exhibition that’s an exercise in creativity.
“We are our own little thing,” says Ben Porto, a partner at Snarkitecture, the design studio that outfitted the space.
Its opening installation is “Lost and Found,” explained in the wall text as a place where visitors can “get lost within the labyrinth of columns and encounter intimate, secret worlds hidden within several of them.”
But not all columns are the same. Some have jagged tops whose textured foam exposures you can reach out and touch. Others, cut out in the middle, have bottoms made into chairs you can sit in. Two columns are connected by a tube so people standing in each can speak to each other, like some kind of weird telephone booth throwback.
Playing in the background is Michał Jacaszek’s atmospheric, electronic music soundtrack, which sounds like the wind. It makes you feel as if you’re outside.
Snark Park will house three exhibitions per year — “Lost and Found” will be up through August. (Entry is ticketed, and visits are timed to one hour. $28 for adults, $22 for kids under 12; SnarkPark.com.)
Right outside Snark Park is Kith Treats, the streetwear brand’s ice cream bar, which is serving Snark Bite, a fusion of vanilla ice cream, Rice Krispies, marshmallows, Lucky Charms and blue sprinkles. ($9.10 for soft serve, $12 for a milkshake.)
Free for all
Woman sues owner of ‘serial killer’ dog over her pooch’s death
An Manhattan husky named Mystery is a serial killer who…
Four levels of 20 Hudson Yards are devoted to public art: 3-D displays, murals and more, by 13 artists, Donald Robertson among them.
“It’s particularly exciting for me because it’s not the usual art-world audience,” says painter Will Cotton, whose “What To Wear in Candyland” is 29 feet long. “It’ll be introducing my work to people who have never heard of me.”
“Candyland” shows three women dressed in gumdrops, lollipops and other sweets, with the occasional cake frosting accent. All those confections may whet your appetite. Speaking of which . . .
Grab a bite
Hudson Yards has dozens of dining options, many of them sit-down and pricey. But there are also several good grab-and-go spots. Shake Shack has a space on the fourth floor, serving up burgers, fries and shakes. Two floors below, Momofuku opened its Fuku chicken joint, whose new, bone-in fried chicken (from $11) comes in such flavors as Old Bay, sweet-and-spicy garlic, and Sichuan chili.
Crave something sweeter? Artisanal ice cream maker Van Leeuwen, on the third floor of 20 Hudson Yards, is scooping up a limited-edition flavor it calls Off the Rails. In this nod to Hudson Yards, built atop rail yards, it’s a mix of vegan chocolate ice cream with peanut butter cups, pretzels, vegan marshmallows and salted caramel swirls ($5.75 for a scoop). Too many calories? Just book a climb, or two, on Vessel to get the heart beating.