Situated at the north end of The High Line in New York City is Vessel , dubbed Shawarma by some locals – a structure and landmark that opened March 2019 as part of the Hudson Yards Redevelopment Project. Its current name Vessel is temporary while they figure out what to call it permanently. However, I have to say that Shawarma is a pretty good suggestion. It resembles something in between the cone-shaped meat, popular on street carts and a glistening honeycomb.
The first time I saw Vessel, it wasn’t yet complete. In December 2017, a friend and I were strolling along The High Line – an elevated park and greenway in Chelsea built on the remains of an elevated train line. As we neared the end of the construction of The High Line, it still a work in progress, we came upon a mysteriously tall and open structure. We mused about what it could be: a fancy apartment complex? A shopping mall? Why is it so…open? Are those stairs, and will they eventually close it in? Thankfully, my questions were answered this summer when I got the chance to see and climb the structure, finally!
Just approaching Vessel really is a marvelous experience. Looming
above, growing in width as it rises, seeming to defy gravity, the copper-clad
shell creates intriguing light and reflections. The structure, meant to be an
interactive art piece, begs to be climbed. The entry process is surprisingly
easy and stress-free, especially when compared to some other NYC
attractions. Free, same-day tickets for visits
starting at 9:30 AM are available from the interactive kiosks in the shops and restaurants
at 20 Hudson Yards and the kiosks on the Public Square and Gardens. All tickets
are issued on a first come, first served basis. Tickets are distributed for the
next available timeslot and allow for a one-time entrance during your assigned
timeslot. When I visited with two other people, it was simple to scan the code
on the kiosk and reserve free tickets to enter less than five minutes later.
Before beginning your ascent, enter the center of the
structure, look up and take in the view, careful not to become dizzy with
wonderment! Each set of stairs, all 154 of them, are connected in a sort of
industrial labyrinth of geometric bliss. If you are the type of person who
enjoys symmetry and intricate patterns, this is the place for you. Comprised of
almost 2,500 individual steps and 80 landings, the vertical climb offers a 360-degree
perspective of the surrounding city and river. Each landing and each set of
stairs serves up an entirely unique vantage from which to admire the views.
Look up for a crisp, mirrored reflection on the bottom of the stairs above you
and or take a selfie of epic proportions.
You might find yourself simultaneously exhausted by the climb
and swept up in a child-like frenzy as you decide which stairs to take — left
or right? Up, or down? The possibilities are endless and I venture to say you
won’t ever walk the same combination of steps, even if you visit multiple
times. Once at the top, take a deep breath. You made it! The airy structure
allows for a cool breeze, making you feel free as a bird as you take in all
that’s below. You’ll still see new perspectives on your way down, or you can
choose to take a ride down on the elevator that, to me, looks like something
straight out of the Matrix, sliding up and down at an angle to mimic the shape
of the structure.
Vessel is a must-see landmark, and is so easily accessible it’s almost unbelievable. No matter what the final name is, it’s sure to become a quintessential NYC monument for both tourists and locals.
Photos courtesy of Ashlee Eplee and Kiele Mauney