I have never dodged so much construction before. There are so many streets that you cannot walk down, or you were crossing streets with traffic going to the Lincoln Tunnel buzzing at you. As I have mentioned in many of my blogs, walking through this part of the Hudson Yards/West Chelsea is not for the faint hearted.
If you do walk through this neighborhood, you will be surprised by all the beautiful shiny, new and innovative buildings that you will see, new parks developing, interesting street art and of course the Highline. They are a lot of things to see and do that is tucked in new buildings and the brand-new Hudson Yards mall. That itself is fun to explore. The problem with walking the streets is that the place is one giant construction site, or you are walking through “The Shops at Hudson Yards” to get from one side of the site to the other. This is definitely a neighborhood of the future that will not be finished for a while.
The Map of the “Hudson Yards”
I started my walk after a long morning at Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen where I have been volunteering now for almost twenty years (has it been that long?). I took almost two years off as the buffet concept is now gone and we are now packing 750 snack packs to go along with the takeout hot meals we serve. It has amazed me how we have gone from serving about 1300 meals a day to now over 2000 meals. The need has gotten bigger in New York City as it is still struggling from the pandemic.
Walking down West 33rd Street from Ninth to Twelve Avenues was the easiest part of the journey. This part of the Hudson Yards has been completed but there is still some work being done of buildings on both sides so watch the equipment and the construction workers walking around.
To one side of West 33rd is Bella Abzug Park, where there was a festival and food trucks and carts all around for workers and tourists. I walked through Bella Abzug Park, which was being partially renovated at the time and walked through the three sections from block to block. Part of the park is being renovated but the other parts look like they are ready to open in the warmer weather with cafes and seating. The park spreads over three blocks that are fully landscaped.
Bella Abzug Park with the Hudson Yards rising like Oz in the background during the summer months (NYCParks.org). The park was named after famous activist and politician Bella Abzug.
Politician and Activist Bella Abzug
To other side is the entrance to “The Shops at Hudson Yards”, an upscale shopping mall with high end stores and restaurants. On the weekends, the mall is mobbed with tourists and locals enjoying the shopping experience and dining in the restaurants. During the week on a gloomy day, the place was practically empty with bored salespeople looking out the glass partitions of the stores. I never saw a mall so empty.
During the week when I was walking around the complex, there was a lot going on. On a sunny weekend afternoon, the Vessel Park area is packed with people taking pictures and milling around the mall but when it rains during the week, the area is like a ghost town. The Hudson Yards neighborhood is still developing and trying to find its identity. Once people really start moving into this neighborhood, it will start to develop its character and not just be a ‘tourist destination.
The Shops at the Hudson Yards (The Shops at Hudson Yards)
I walked all around the first floor of the mall and admired all the upscale stores in the area like Cartier, Tiffany and Louis Vuitton. The security is heavy at these stores with all the recent robberies of merchants like this all over the country. I have not seen as much of this to that scale since the riots in June of 2020. Still security watches everyone.
Walking back around the site, you will be dodging more construction and scaffolding then you are used to in a neighborhood but the results are all these gleaming new innovative looking buildings. It is nice to see so much interesting and unusual architecture in one spot. On a nice sunny afternoon, its nice to walk along the paths of flowers but on a rainy day it loses its appeal.
Walking down West 32nd Street poses many difficulties considering that it pretty much disappears after Seventh Avenue. Now you will walk through courtyards and buildings and pass stores and restaurants in the new Hudson Yards complex. Detouring off Ninth Avenue, you will walk through One Manhattan West building complex and the elaborate Citrovia complex
Between One Manhattan and Two Manhattan West in the Hudson Yards complex between 389 and 395 Ninth Avenue is the Citrovia display. I was trying to figure out if this was a company display or an artist’s display. There were all sorts of lemons all in the trees and in the gardens. During the summer, these must be an amazing place to sit but between the snow and the winds that sunny day, I just walked through the display.
The Citrovia display at One Manhattan West on Ninth Avenue (Manhattan West Website)
Citrovia is a fantastic outdoor interactive outdoor installation that transports the visitor to a sprawling citrus garden of whimsical displays, a sitting area with a lemon tree forest and I swear when you walk through the whole thing you can smell fresh lemon (Manhattan West website). It is almost like the ‘Land of Oz” or “Wonderland” with lemon trees and slices all over the place. It is a whimsical journey through the lemon display.
I walked through the Manhattan West complex, and it really dawned on me how the neighborhood has changed so much in the last decade. They took a run-down neighborhood and made it shine with modern buildings housing new tech companies and a series of restaurants, shops and hotels. It is a neighborhood onto itself.
Manhattan West complex (Manhattan West.com)
I walked through the complex as people were coming and going into the local Whole Foods that is located inside. I have to say that I am very impressed by this store. It is so nicely set up and the front section has a whole prepared food section with soups, salads and entrees and baked goods to the side. There are places to sit down both inside and out and on a nice day there is quite a few by the Highline.
Throughout the complex there are a series of expensive sit-down restaurants that were busy during lunch hour and there were tourists milling around taking pictures with the giant lemons. It was an interesting mix of people. You have to cut through the complex to get back The Shoppes at the Hudson Yards before you come out at the entrance of Hudson Boulevard where the Vessel is located and the gardens and benches that surround it.
I passed the Equinox Hotel at 33 Hudson Yards and was faced with the most colorful and creative mural that looked like it was expressing groups of people and the way they live. You really have to walk around the hotel to see the whole work, but the affect is amazing. I found out later this painting was American artist Elle Street Art called “HYxOffTheWall”.
Elle Street Art explains her mural at the Hudson Yards
She wanted to reflect the neighborhood and the diversity of the City. She really wanted to show the positive part of the heart of New York City.
Artist Elle Street Art in front of her work
Elle is a New York based Street/Graffiti artist known for her bold statements. She started out as an illegal graffiti artist and over time has built a reputation as one of the top touring street artists which has led to commercial works seen all over the world (Artist bio).
Next to the hotel in the same courtyard where the rest of the Hudson Yards surrounds is the impressive “Vessel” work, one of the cornerstone designs of the Hudson Yards and a signature building. It sits like an impressive statue in the middle of a group of skyscrapers.
The Vessel was designed by architect Thomas Heatherwick in a honeycomb like structure that consists of sixteen stories, a hundred and fifty-four flights of stairs, twenty-five hundred steps and eighty landings to stop at and observe the view. It is known as TKA (Temporarily Known As) for the structure’s name (Wiki). The structure was opened in 2016 and has recently closed for viewing because of visitor issues.
The Vessel at 20 Hudson Yards
I walked around the complex to admire the structure and look at its beauty. It has such unusual look to it almost like a puzzle that is opening up to the sky. It looks like it shot up from the ground which is what makes it so unique.
Architect Thomas Heatherwick describing “The Vessel”
When returning to Ninth Avenue and walking back down West 31st Street, you pass all these complexes again from the outside. You have to walk around the complex again, walking down West 30th Street to Eleventh Avenue where the West Side Yard is located with trains awaiting their next trip. The yard spreads from Eleventh to Twelve Avenues and trust me, when you walk along Twelve Avenue all you will see is parking lots and fencing protecting the yards. Not the most exciting site.
West 30th Street offers it share of challenges being the entrance to the Lincoln Tunnel. You can’t just walk down this street without being hit by a car. I dodged everything from cars to bicycles to buses making a dash down the street. The right side is all construction and parked cars and the tunnel itself and PLEASE don’t attempt to walk down this street.
As you pass under all the scaffolding of the post office between Ninth and Tenth Avenues, there is an interesting plaque that could be easily missed as marking the spot of the Hudson River Railroad Station where President Lincoln left as the first passenger on his way to his inauguration. He left here in his funeral train four years later back to Springfield, Illinois. I thought it interesting but spooky at the same time. Life offers such strange situations.
The Hudson River Railroad Plaque
I think this plaque is almost symbolic to how dangerous this section of the neighborhood is with it dangerous streets and comings and goings. This changes though as you come to Tenth Avenue.
Under the underpass, you will a well landscaped garden that leads to the entrance of the Highline Park walkway. This beautiful path leads under the overpass to West 29th Street is lined with colorful flowers and bushes. It is a nice place to take a break from all the craziness of construction and traffic.
As I walked into the Hudson Yards complex again, I stopped through “The Shed” building to see what was inside. It looked like an interesting present that had been wrapped from the outside. Inside was a small restaurant and a bookstore.
The security guard gave me a strange look as I asked for directions to get to the other side, and I walked up a staircase to the other side of the building. This lead back to the Hudson Yards courtyard with the Vessel in front of me. Right now, there was not much inside, but this will become a premier arts center in the future.
The Shed at 545 West 30th Street
The building was designed by architects Diller Scofidio+Renfro and the Rockwell group. It is such an interesting piece of architecture with its unique and challenging design and its beauty as you walk around it. You would never know all this from what I saw in two hallways and a staircase. It will be thrilling to see a performance here.
Once you cross onto Eleventh Avenue again, you face the Westside Yards and a lot of fencing. I wonder if the complex is going to cover this up as well to build more buildings. It is amazing what is being built on top of railyards. It just goes to show in the ingenuity that can be created by a group of architects and engineers.
Walking back and down West 29th Street is an adventure into itself as you walk under the building that holds a branch of the post office and this place is always busy. You are dodging trucks leaving and security that is all over the place. There is a lot of action between Ninth and Tenth Avenues so again watch yourself as you are crossing the street.
On top of all the construction going on the street, there are a few small gems hidden in the corners that you have to admire. The little garden under overpass of the Highline is a painting by artist Kelsey Montague entitled “What lifts you” that is painted on the side of the building next to the Highline pathway. It is easier to view when you walk the Highline from above.
Kelsey Montague’s “What Lifts You” on the Highline is so spellbinding (Kelsey Montague website)
Her works are really uplifting and show the spirit of the City. She puts all sorts of symbols that are unique to New York City (artist video). I find the work to be whimsical and fun. It is hard to see has there was scaffolding in front of the work and had to visit the internet to find a full version of it.
Artist Kelsey Montague (artist website)
Kelsey Montague is an American born artist known for interactive art and illustrations. She studied art in Florence and graduated from Richmond University in London with a degree in Art, Design & Media.
The artist explains and shows her works:
What inspires the artist and her team:
After admiring the art from the street, I decided to take the stairs up to the Highline and see it from the top. From what I could see, it looked like a fun piece of art and showed the artist’s personality of bringing people together.
I travelled down the Highline for a few blocks and then exited around West 23rd Street and decided I was hungry. It was getting later in the afternoon, and I was not sure what I was in the mood for lunch.
Tiring of pizza, I stopped at Lucky’s Famous Burgers at 264 West 23rd Street for lunch. The place was full of delivery guys who were talking amongst themselves in Spanish when I walked in and then they went quiet. I ordered from the front and sat near the TV.
Lucky’s Famous Burgers at 264 West 23rd Street
I thought I was more in the mood for a snack and ordered the two-cheeseburger meal with fries and it was lunch for two people. Each cheeseburger was topped with lettuce, tomatoes and pickles and was the size of most places’ normal burgers. They give you a bag of fries that is almost a half-pound of freshly cooked fries and then I go for the constant refills of the delicious Boyland sodas.
The burgers here are so juicy (Lucky’s Famous Burgers)
After lunch, I decided to walk around the Hudson Yards one more time and soak up the architecture of this strange new land developing on the west side of Manhattan and take it all in. Once all the scaffolding is down and the buildings are all finished, this is going to be one special neighborhood that will take its place in the annals of unique Manhattan neighborhoods.
On another trip to revisit the neighborhood, I visited Stick to my Pot Potstickers at 224 West 35th Street for lunch. Don’t miss this little hole in the wall in the Garment District that caters to the garment workers as it does tourists. Their dumplings, scallion pancakes and spring rolls are all terrific. Don’t miss the Mochi cakes for dessert.
Don’t miss the dumplings that are freshly made in front of you at Stick to my Pot Potsticker at 224 West 35th Street
There will be more changes in the future.
Please read my other blogs on walking the Lower Part of the Hudson Yards/West Chelsea:
Day Two Hundred and Twenty-Eight-Walking the Borders of the Lower Hudson Yards/West Chelsea:
Day Two Hundred and Thirty-Walking the Avenues of the Lower Hudson Yards/West Chelsea:
Day Two Hundred and Thirty-Three-Walking the Streets of the Lower Hudson Yards/West Chelsea:
These will show you the constant changes in the neighborhood.
Places to Eat:
Lucky’s Famous Burgers
264 West 23rd Street
New York, NY 10011
Open: Sunday-Wednesday 11:00am-11:00pm/Thursday-Saturday 11:00am-12:00am
My review on TripAdvisor:
My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:
Stick to my Pot Potstickers
224 West 35th Street
New York, NY 10001
My review on TripAdvisor:
My review on DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com:
Places to Visit:
The Hudson Yards complex (rather than mentioning all the spots individually)
Between West 33rd and West 30th Streets between Ninth and Eleventh Avenues