Field Notes – HUDSON YARDS – New York City


by Dean Balsamo

They move like Transformers – or the avenging Trees in Lord of the Rings…

straining – stretching – trampling –

applying a Shanghai-worthy…Sci-Fi…sky-crape

To mid-town Manhattan from 9th Ave. to the Hudson

in the recently opened Hudson Yards.

I thought of the French Post Modernist Guy Debord’s Society of the Spectacle

As I grabbled the images of the new structures

from the streets of Hell’s Kitchen…

Somewhere between

a stone’s throw and a 22 caliber…




from streets that looked like this:

“There goes the”….yeah well it happens everywhere.

Gonna wipe out the rail-yards

the little cubby’s and sidewalks where street people pitch their shit

and the usual criminal and sexual outsiders that give their twist to the genres near the tracks.

It’s always a clash

We enter the large tower anchored by Neiman Marcus off 9th Avenue. We’re meeting my brother at Napa Chef Thomas Keller’s bakery on the 4th floor. My brother’s in the trade –it was one of his projects.

We have a light lunch – it was fine. But the whole retail experience…featuring ..everything you see on the streets from Dior to H&M

Leaves me cold.

This “upscale mall,” has the aesthetics of a casino…cold, cavernous passages surrounded by polished granite-like surfaces. Out of date.

To me it was like walking in the tomb of a cold  retail cadaver.

A tower filled with babel…one percenters with their largely unoccupied penthouses above…retail aimed at..who knows who below. But I did discover a new urban survival strategy …an outgrowth of our Progressive times when I chose to use the private washroom the building provides for un and non-gendered people  – instead of waiting in the lines. I exit to find a Japanese family with kids waiting to use it as well.

The real draw at Hudson Yards is…

The Vessel.

(The Vessel through the windows of Neiman Marcus)

Euro architect,

crafted – assembled – disassembled –

then reassembled in New York by Italians

Everyone’s going there.

The 16 floor high structure is a natural magnet for  crowds. It’s a perfect compliment to the High Line it anchors. People are happy as they take selfies and meet friends.

It reminded me of a gigantic sculpture dedicated to world piece Ernest Neizvestny – a Russian sculptor I knew in NYC – wanted to create. It was his life long dream. He based it – see below for the photomontage mock up – on a twisted mobius strip as template.

It was to have “peace” inscribed in various languages all over the structure. You can see he wasn’t messing around with the scale.

You can see more about Ernst here:

The End of the Americans–My Russian Stories

Anyway The Vessel isn’t a bad diversion for a city that’s in constant motion.

And although we didn’t catch the smell of cannabis here as we were around other parts of the city…my guess is it’s only a matter of time before Manhattanites make the Vessel their own.

All the photographers are by the author.

More photos can be seen on my Instagram. Handle: arcanespace.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *