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!

vessel, new york city

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.

vessel, new york city

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.

vessel, new york city

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, new york city

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


  1. Wow! We missed this when we went over the holidays. We ran out of time and missed the high line. Plus it was so stinking cold. I will not miss this next time. It is amazing. Love your review.

  2. that places is really impressive! I haven’t even heard about it before. It will be part of our itinerary for sure.

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