The Vessel

All about the sculpture The Vessel

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Do you know The Vessel? Located in New York's new Hudson Yard district, the Hudson Yard Vessel is a work of art in its own right. The structure – all stairs – is even now one of the city's iconic landmarks.

If you're wondering what to do in New York, this is an activity I highly recommend!

This belvedere of a new kind should definitely be on your list of the Big Apple’s must-sees!

But if you want to know more about The Vessel (including how to get to the top, whether you need tickets or not, or how to get there), read the article below. I'll explain everything you need to know!

What is the Hudson Yard Vessel?

The Hudson Yard Vessel is an observatory whose futuristic design was created as part of the redevelopment of the new Hudson Yards area of Manhattan.

It was intended to be just one part of a new urban complex that would include residential towers, offices and shops, but also an arts centre and a tree park. Yet The Vessel has become the main attraction in a long-deserted district and has made it THE place to go!

The ongoing restructuring project at Hudson Yards will not be completed until 2024. Among the changes taking place, other towers will be built (or are already under construction). They will house offices, but also luxury flats. A new observatory, this time with a triangular platform, "The Edge", has already opened its doors (March 2020).

The plans for the Hudson Yard Vessel were drawn up by British designer Thomas Heatherwick. He wanted to create a metal structure with several interconnected platforms.

Work began in December 2017. The structure was made in Venice, Italy, and transported in kit form by cargo ship. It was then placed in a former railway depot. The inauguration took place on 15 March 2019.

I'll give you more details on how to get the ticket and access the site a bit below, but be aware that even if the basic entrance ticket is free, there is a paid flex pass ($10) that will allow you to avoid having to queue up on site. You can make your reservation in advance (up to 180 days) for the day and time of your choice.

Buying a free ticket works in the same way: you can either pick up your ticket directly at the automatic terminal (knowing that you will not necessarily be able to access the structure right away, if it is already full – there is a limit number of people that can be inside at the same time), or you can reserve your ticket on the internet (only possible 2 weeks before the desired date, and most slots may not be available anymore). 

By opting for the flex pass, you will ensure that you can access the site at the time and date of your choice, and benefit from a certain flexibility. 

high line vessel

Today, the Hudson Yard Vessel is considered a work of art/monument in its own right. Some people see a beehive or a honeycomb in the tangle of stairs (I do! ahaha).

Others see a turtle shell in the shape of the structure.

Others still see a ship, hence the name "The Vessel".

Either way, its unique shape makes it one of New York's iconic buildings. I personally love it!

With its 45 metres high, you can't compare the Hudson Yard Vessel to the other observatories in New York, not even to the most recent one: "The Edge". However, this mini belvedere offers a nice view of the neighbourhood and its surroundings.

Good to know:

  • The Hudson Yard Vessel is nicknamed "New York's Staircase" by some — an staircase with no end.
  • The structure is made of steel, copper and concrete.
  • The copper-coloured panels with which it is covered reflect the landscape around it.

Some figures:

  • The building has 16 floors, 154 staircases, 80 landings and 2,500 steps (put together, they would be 1.6 km long).
  • The project cost $200 million and the structure was built on 2 hectares.

Where is the Hudson Yard Vessel located?

The Hudson Yard Vessel is located, as the name suggests, in the newly developed Hudson Yards district, in Manhattan, on 30th Street and between 10th and 11th Avenues. It is located in a community park called "Public Square and Gardens at Hudson Yards". It is at the very end of the High Line (another must-see, by the way!) that the structure stands – north of the High Line, a promenade built on former overhead railway tracks, to be precise.

As you stroll along this elevated railway line, you won't be able to miss The Vessel!

How is the view from the Hudson Yard Vessel?

hudson yard tickets vessel

From the stairs, it is possible to see the city from various points of view (80 in total).

In fact, The Vessel offers different views as you climb the stairs. At the top, you can look over the Hudson Yards area, the Hudson River, The Shed (a cultural centre) and the Hudson Yards shopping centre. You can also see the Empire State Building and New Jersey in the distance.

The view at night, with all the illuminations, is just magical.

How to get there?

The best way to get to the Hudson Yard Vessel is to take the New York underground line 7 and get off at the 3"4th — Hudson Yards" station (terminus).

What are the opening hours?

The Hudson Yard Vessel is open every day of the year, from 10 am to 9 pm (and until 7 pm in winter).

the vessel new york

What is the entrance fee?

On paper, access to the Hudson Yard Vessel is free, so you can go there directly without further preparation. However, you will need to show a ticket. Indeed, the number of people allowed inside at the same time is limited, and this ticket is necessary to regulate the flow of visitors.

The ticket is therefore MANDATORY to go up to the observatory.

If you go to the Vessel directly on the day of your visit, you will be able to get a ticket on the interactive terminals placed around the structure.

The problem is that you may have to wait before you can access the Vessel itself.

Having visited the structure twice before, I was given each time a ticket that became valid 2-3 hours after my request. So you will have to wait in the neighbourhood until the time indicated on your The Vessel ticket. Not very practical, especially if you are only in New York for a few days!

To avoid waiting, you can book your ticket on the internet. I advise you to do it before even leaving for New York (you can book tickets for the Hudson Yard Vessel up to two weeks in advance!).

Tickets are available on the official website. You can choose the day and time of your visit.

And if patience really isn’t your forte, buy a Flex Pass Admission ticket.

For 10 dollars, you can book a visit for the date of your choice (up to 6 months in advance!) and arrive at the time that suits you best.


Practical information

Climbing the stairs of The Vessel is not overly tiring, as you can do it at your own pace. And the steps are wide!

Some levels are also accessible to people with reduced mobility (ramp and glass lift) – though not all of them.

And that's it for this article! Hope you could get all the info you needed for your visit 🙂

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auteurs blog new york
A first trip to New York, and a new favorite city! 30 years old, city dweller and good-plan finder, I share my New York discoveries on this blog to help you visit this magnificent city with me. With each new trip, there are more activities to discover!


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