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AGBC News Episode 13: Hudson Yards, Manhattan's Last Neighborhood

Podcast artwork
Podcast artwork via AGBC

Hudson Yards opens Friday, March 15th, with the public being able to visit the new shopping mall and food court and the massive sculpture of stairs (tentatively) called the Vessel.

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AGBC News Episode 13: Hudson Yards, Manhattan's Last Neighborhood
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History

Hudson Yards is a unique development. Other areas in Manhattan may change names, like the Lower East Side splitting to become the East Village, and new areas may be built, like Battery Park City, but Hudson Yards will be the last neighborhood to grow from previously undeveloped land. The site has been a railyard since the turn of the last century and had been the target of many developers over the years, but only recently did plans come together to build the largest private real estate development in the United States on top of the block-long open area of train tracks. A cutaway model shows the multiple layers at the site: Amtrak and NJ Transit trains at the deepest level in the Hudson Tunnel, 30 tracks of LIRR storage just below ground level, then an elevated platform constructed over the tracks that contains machinery to run the complex, support structures drilled into the bedrock, and the street-level parks and building entrances. If you take the new 7 Train extension to Hudson Yards, you'll emerge from even deeper under the complex since the new station is 125 feet below street level, making it one of the deepest in the subway system. The part of the development opening now is really only half of what will ultimately rise from the rail yards. This section, east of Eleventh Ave, was developed first, but more residential towers and open public space will be added in the next phase west of Eleventh. In this episode we'll learn about a few new features opening this weekend in this new neighborhood.

Stores

Shopping at Hudson Yards will be pretty similar to the retail space that has opened at the new World Trade Center complex, with high-priced fashion brands filling most of the space. A multi-story Neiman Marcus will anchor the shopping areas, with stores like Louis Vuitton, Coach, and Zara showing up along the mall's corridors and stores from luxury watchmakers Patek Philippe, Rolex, and Piaget. Visit B3ta on the second floor where shoppers have the ability to try out products that are usually ordered online and produced by smaller companies that can't afford to open an entire storefront.

The Shed

The structure sitting along the High Line that looks like an inflatable ice cube is the art, performance, and event space at Hudson Yards, called The Shed. It's a transforming building with sliding panels and a rolling canopy that can host a variety of events. There's a very cool video animation on the Hudson Yards site showing how the Shed transforms to change from an indoor venue for concerts and art to an open-air plaza for watching movies, and the Shed will even announce on social media when it will be transforming the building for a new event, so you'll have advance notice if you want to stop by watch the four-story structure move. The Shed will be opening in early April with a five-night concert series.

The Vessel

The Vessel sculpture has fast become one of the most recognizable features of Hudson Yards. 150 feet tall with 154 interconnected stairways, visitors can climb onto dozens of observation platforms and view Hudson Yards from multiple directions. It's sure to become a favorite of photographers. The name may be "The Vessel" for now, but Hudson Yards will be accepting suggestions for a more-fitting name for the sculpture. During the opening ceremony where Big Bird helped Anderson Cooper officially open the Vessel to visitors, Big Bird compared the sculpture to his own Sesame Street bird nest, which is an interlocking nest of brown branches. Visiting the sculpture currently requires making a free reservation, but it's unclear if this will continue into the future or if it's only intended to keep crowd numbers low during ongoing construction at Hudson Yards. If you take any innovative photos of the Vessel or have a suggestion on a better name than "The Vessel", send them in to A Great Big City on social media!

Observation Deck

If you're longing for a higher vantage point, make your reservation for The Edge, an observation deck at Hudson Yards that will become the highest public balcony in the city. Jutting out to the southeast corner from 30 Hudson Yards, the triangle-shaped deck will offer a variety of views across the city and the Hudson River, all from a height of 1,100 feet. The glass walls surrounding the observation deck will lean outwards at the point of the triangle, giving daredevils an opportunity to lean forward and look straight down from a point 65 feet away from the building. The deck won't open as part of the Hudson Yards grand opening, but you can reserve a spot on the list to be one of the first visitors when it does open.

The Future

It may look out of place at the moment, but just like the World Trade Center complex, Hudson Yards will begin to blend in with the New York around it as construction is finished and more open spaces are added. The plaza is open to visitors and will have wifi access, so it may prove popular as a place to take a rest in Hell's Kitchen, which otherwise had a limited amount of public green space. The upcoming parkland along the High Line and the Hudson River will add a much-needed boost to an area where pedestrians were either relegated to a narrow sidewalk next to the highway and the only was the concrete rear wall of the Javits Center. Much like the open lawns along the Hudson in Battery Park City, the green space at Hudson Yards will likely prove to be a popular space for watching the sunset or having an afternoon picnic, and will really come to life when attendees from various Javits Center conventions explore the new spaces instead of trying to catch a cab out of the area. Welcome to the neighborhood, Hudson Yards!

Park of the day

  • Davidson Playground — Morris Heights in The Bronx — Little is known about Oliver Mathias Davidson for whom this playground and the adjacent Davidson Avenue are named. Davidson served as Chief Engineer of Streets from 1867 to 1872, and at one time owned land in Fordham. The small neighborhood park contains playground equipment and many lush trees providing shade.

  • The Queens Botanical Garden will be holding a Backyard Composting Workshop on Saturday, March 16th where you can learn what goes in a compost bin, how to maintain it properly, and how to use the compost after it has had time to develop. Registration is required, but the event is free. Call (718) 886-3800 for more info.

Concert Calendar

This is the AGBC Concert Calendar:

  • Teenage Fanclub and The Love Language are playing Music Hall of Williamsburg on Thursday, March 14th.
  • The Movielife and Travis Shettel are playing Brooklyn Night Bazaar on Friday, March 15th.
  • THE 1ST WORLD TOUR ‘WARNING’ and Sunmi are playing The Town Hall on Friday, March 15th.
  • Have a Nice Life, Consumer, elizabeth colour wheel, Midwife, and Planning for Burial are playing Market Hotel on Friday, March 15th.
  • Massive Attack is playing Radio City Music Hall on Friday, March 15th.
  • The Purple Tour and Lukas Graham are playing Hammerstein Ballroom on Friday, March 15th.
  • DEATH CULTS, Husbandry, and LAPêCHE are playing Union Pool on Friday, March 15th.
  • Have a Nice Life, Consumer, elizabeth colour wheel, Planning for Burial, and Wreck and Reference are playing Brooklyn Night Bazaar on Saturday, March 16th.
  • The Bouncing Souls and Strike Anywhere are playing White Eagle Hall on Saturday, March 16th.
  • Massive Attack is playing Radio City Music Hall on Saturday, March 16th.
  • Youth of Today, Glitterer, KRIMEWATCH, and Line Of Sight are playing Brooklyn Bazaar on Sunday, March 17th.
  • Kenny O’Brien and The O’Douls and Kevin Devine are playing Mercury Lounge on Sunday, March 17th.
  • This Heat, This Is Not This Heat, and Yvette are playing (le) Poisson Rouge on Monday, March 18th.
  • 20 Years: An Intimate Conclusion To Thursday's 20th Anniversary, Thursday, and American Pleasure Club are playing Saint Vitus Bar on Monday, March 18th.
  • An Evening with Fleetwood Mac and Fleetwood Mac are playing Madison Square Garden on Monday, March 18th.

Find more fun things to do at agreatbigcity.com/events.

New York Fact

Here's something you may not have known about New York:

Weather

The extreme highs and lows for this week in weather history:
Record High: 83°F on March 20, 1945
Record Low: 7°F on March 18, 1916

Weather for the week ahead:
Light rain tomorrow, with high temperatures falling to 46°F on Sunday.

Thanks for listening to A Great Big City. Follow along 24 hours a day on social media @agreatbigcity or email contact@agreatbigcity.com with any news, feedback, or topic suggestions. Subscribe to AGBC News wherever you listen to podcasts: iTunes, Google Play, or Podcast Addict, Spotify, and Castbox or listen to each episode on the podcast pages. If you enjoy the show, subscribe and leave a review wherever you're listening and visit agreatbigcity.com/podcast to see show notes and extra links for each episode.

Intro and outro music: 'Start the Day' by Lee Rosevere — Concert Calendar music from Jukedeck.com

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