Observation Deck

The Vessel at Hudson Yards: What You Need to Know About NYC’s Buzziest New Creation

It looks like a shawarma. Or a pineapple. Or a rib cage. Only in New York could a staircase cause so much commotion.

Photo by Sayaka Ueno

As you may have heard, a little development called Hudson Yards opened last week not far from the world’s most famous arena. The sprawling, 28-acre complex is home to majorly expensive luxury condos; new eateries by Jose Andrés, David Chang, and other restaurant-industry machers and shakers; a dynamic performance space called the Shed; and architectural curiosities that are—let’s just say divisive.

It’s also where the Vessel lives. No, the Vessel is not New York’s hottest new, velvet-rope-protected nightclub or VIP-only lounge where people like Peter Thiel and Elon Musk drink the blood of young boys to remain eternally youthful. Rather, it’s some stairs. Some really impressive stairs. Stairs that climb 150 feet high and are shiny and intertwining and created by English architecture star Thomas Heatherwick. Those kind of stairs. And while much about the Vessel is easy to know—just look at it!—there are also some early mysteries and rumors swirling about. Here’s what you might find surprising or confusing about the enormous, interactive walkway to the wind.

hudson yards vessel
Photo by Sayaka Ueno
  1. If you take a photo in or around the Vessel, it doesn’t belong only to you; it also belongs to the Vessel.
  2. Even if you are Martha Stewart. (Update: the Terms & Conditions of Vessel use have been expanded to allow visitors to keep ownership of their social media content.)
  3. Climbing the Vessel is free—but getting a required ticket to do so could take you a while. Go here to book a ticket (and good luck!)
  4. The views are pretty good!
  5. There’s a list of things you can’t bring with you (umbrellas, paint, a sandwich) on the Vessel. They mean it.
  6. Depending on whom you ask, it either looks like a “giant shawarma.”
  7. Or “a honeycomb.”
  8. Or, in a common construction, “a staircase to nowhere.”
  9. The Vessel has a good publicist.
  10. The Vessel may not be The Vessel for very long. A new name is in the offing.

No matter what you think it looks like, or how long you have to wait before you can snag a ticket to climb, or who owns your photos taken there, one thing is certain: Many New Yorkers will soon step their way to a more rock-solid butt.

Find the best places to eat in and around Hudson Yards on the WSWD app.