I climbed the $200 million, 2,500-step sculpture in NYC's Hudson Yards on opening day — and the view from inside blew me away

Katie Warren/Business InsiderThe Vessel is open to the public and free to visit.

The Vessel is a $US200 million climbable sculpture in Hudson Yards, Manhattan’s $US25 billion neighbourhood that opened to the public a year ago.

Designed by Thomas Heatherwick, it’s the sculptural centrepiece of Hudson Yards – which is now New York City’s most expensive neighbourhood, according to PropertyShark – that includes office buildings, luxurious residential towers, and a seven-story luxury shopping centre with stores like Louis Vuitton and Dior.

The 150-foot-tall sculpture, which cost $US200 million to build, according to Curbed, includes 154 interconnected staircases, nearly 2,500 steps, and 80 landings.

The Vessel “is going to be to New York City what the Eiffel Tower is to Paris,” Jeff Blau, the CEO of Related Companies, the developer behind Hudson Yards, told CBS last year.

I was one of the first to climb the Vessel on Hudson Yards’ opening day on March 15, 2019. Here’s what it was like.


I was one of the first to climb the Vessel, a $US200 million sculpture in Hudson Yards, New York City’s new $US25 billion neighbourhood.

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Hudson Yards opened a year ago, in March 2019, but it won’t be completely finished until 2025.


Hudson Yards includes office buildings, luxury residential towers, a seven-story shopping centre, and a performing-arts centre called the Shed.

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It’s now the city’s most expensive neighbourhood, with a median sale price of $US5 million, according to a new PropertyShark report.


The Vessel anchors a public plaza ringed by brand-new buildings including the performing-arts centre, called the Shed, as well as the luxury shopping centre and two residential towers, 15 Hudson Yards and 35 Hudson Yards.

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Entering the Vessel is free, but you have to reserve a time slot online. It’s open every day from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.


I didn’t need a reservation because it was opening day, so I walked right inside behind CNN’s Anderson Cooper, who was a host of the Hudson Yards grand-opening event.

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Depending who you ask, the Vessel resembles anything from a honeycomb to a giant shawarma.

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Source: Washington Post, Eater


But standing in the Vessel is a completely different experience from looking at it on the outside.

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Looking up, I could see Hudson Yards’ glossy new towers jutting into the sky.

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At the bottom, you can choose to start at one of several staircases.

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The Vessel is made up of 154 interconnected staircases, 80 landings …

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Source: Hudson Yards


… and nearly 2,500 steps.

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The sculpture’s designer, Thomas Heatherwick, said it was partially inspired by Indian stepwells, where you take staircases down to the water.

ALEX OGLE/AFP/Getty ImagesA stepwell in Rajasthan, India.

Source: Walk Through India


It took me about 15 minutes to walk to the top, and that was with plenty of stopping to take photos.

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There’s also an elevator, making it accessible to those who can’t climb stairs.

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Source: Hudson Yards


Looking down from near the top, I couldn’t decide whether I felt like I was standing inside the rib cage of some kind of giant robotic creature or in an alien spaceship.

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From the top of the Vessel, you can look out over Hudson Yards’ remaining visible rail yards, toward the Hudson River.

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The silhouette of the sculpture against the skyline is striking.

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I’ve never seen anything like it.

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It was a bit windy at the top, but because it was an unseasonably warm March day when I visited, I didn’t mind. The Vessel is open regardless of rain or bad weather.

Source: Hudson Yards


Some people were literally bending over backward to get the perfect selfie in the Vessel.

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I can see why some people might not find the Vessel’s exterior particularly attractive, but the inside blew me away.

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The structure, which cost an estimated $US200 million to build, was made in Italy and arrived in New York in six shipments.

Katie Warren/Business Insider

Source: Curbed


You can’t climb the Vessel after 9 p.m., but it’s still impressive to see the outside at nighttime when it’s illuminated.

Katie Warren/Business Insider

The Vessel’s designer, Thomas Heatherwick, called it “one of the most complex pieces of steelwork ever made.”

Katie Warren/Business InsiderHeatherwick designed the Vessel.

Source: Curbed


Related Companies CEO Jeff Blau compared the Vessel to the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Centre.

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“We said we want to design a 365-days-a-year Christmas tree, so that every single person who comes here has to come to Hudson Yards,” he said on Bloomberg TV. “And that’s the Vessel.”

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