Archive for April, 2019

My First and Last Visit to Hudson Yards

April 7, 2019

Figuring I did not need to invite any more darkness and vulgarity into my head than that provided on a daily basis from Trump’s White House, and after reading horrific account after horrific account following its opening, I had avoided an actual visit to the thing called Hudson Yards, which cost a zillion dollars to make even as it received lots of those zillions in massive tax breaks.

Today, fortified perhaps by the lovely weather, my curiosity got the best of me, and so I set out on my trusty Trek to take it in and see for myself what all the hoopla was all about.
After all, I reckoned, how often does a city like New York suddenly sprout nothing short of a “new neighborhood “ out of a bunch of old railroad tracks?

From a distance, approaching from the south, there is a moment or two when the Hudson Yards is reminiscent of a scene in The Wizard of Oz when Dorothy and Toto and company glimpse the Emerald City looming far past the poppy fields. Indeed, in the High Line, the Hudson Yards even has its own version of the Yellow Brick Road, where I saw thousands of pilgrims and leads straight into the place.


I arrived and looked around and looked around some more and still have no idea what all the hoopla is about. There are a number of exceedingly tall, exceedingly scary looking buildings where people are meant to live or work in or do something in and which made me feel paramecium -like when I looked up at them.

There was a very high-end shopping mall catering to people with way too much money.

There were insane and deeply cynical signs all over the place exhorting people to “Climb to new heights” and “Work where it matters” and “Discover your new home, “ as if Hudson Yards were engaged in a public self help project or, ya know, affordable to anyone.

My favorite sign read, “Welcome to your new neighborhood,” as if this terrifying collection of towers could ever properly be referred to as a neighborhood.

There was something called The Shed, which is meant to be an art space and where videos blare at you concerning the wonders of The Shed. From a distance, I thought that part of The Shed was covered by an enormous plastic sheet, but no. The thing that looks like an enormous plastic sheet is part of The Shed. Permanently.

Finally, in what seems to be the center of the “Yards” stood the thing called The Vessel, where people were invited to climb up many flights of stairs and take “selfies,” peering out over the high-end mall or The Shed or, for the more adventurous, in the direction of the Westside Highway.

The Vessel

And I’m here to tell ya, many, many people did.

I tried to find beauty and found none. I then settled for finding something remotely interesting and found none of that either. Nothing. Nada. Zilch. What I found is a place reeking of a certain moneyed banality. And all I knew was I couldn’t wait to get the hell out of there. The idea that any sane, more or less educated human being would want to hang out in Hudson Yards, never mind live there, is inconceivable to me. But then again, the fact that millions of Americans believe that Donald Trump was chosen by God to be president is inconceivable to me.

And here we are.

I am happy to be away from the thing called Hudson Yards and I cannot imagine ever returning there. Why would I? As Gertrude Stein said of Oakland, “There is no there there.”
What is there is an absolute contempt for all that is human, scaled, and empathetic that no amount of public relations can disguise.
Hudson Yards may well be the most cynical development in the history of New York City. It is certainly the most cynical location I have ever visited.

Give me my apartment with a bathtub in the kitchen, which, though cramped, feels like a home. Give me my neighborhood, which, even when it drives me mad, is, in actual fact, a neighborhood.

Addendum: Apparently massive tax breaks were not enough for the makers of New York’s newest “neighborhood:” they had to rob from funding meant for the most struggling communities. https://www.citylab.com/equity/2019/04/hudson-yards-financing-eb5-investor-visa-program-immigration/586897/

Advertisements