BY GABE HERMAN | Hudson Yards was the place to be Friday morning. Everyone was there, from Anderson Cooper to Carmelo Anthony, even Big Bird.
Much of Hudson Yards officially opened to the public on March 15, and was ushered in with some pomp and circumstance.
Opening ceremonies for the new West Side neighborhood, which is still very much surrounded by construction on all sides, were held in what are being called the Public Square and Gardens.
More specifically, the events were in the center of the 5-acre area, at the base of the Vessel, the 15-story-tall, honeycomb-shaped structure/artwork that visitors can climb for impressive views. The Vessel and the Gardens are now open to the public, along with the adjacent Shops and Restaurants building.
The ceremonies kicked off with a performance by singer Andra Day. Anderson Cooper was the master of ceremonies and noted that CNN and parent company Warner Media are moving into Hudson Yards.
“I’ve never seen the creation of a whole neighborhood, and a beautiful one,” the news anchor said. He marveled at how fast it was constructed. “I’ve had bathroom renovations that have taken six years,” he quipped.
Senator Charles Schumer spoke of the importance of having developed infrastructure in the area, including extending the 7 train to 11th Ave., which he said allowed for Hudson Yards to be built.
“Two decades ago this area was barren,” he said.
“This is a historic moment — the future has arrived,” said Steve Ross, chairperson of Related Companies. “I hope New York benefits from what we have done. We put our heart and soul into it.”
Related is developing the megaproject, along with Oxford Properties Group.
Among those thanked at the event were former Mayor Michael Bloomberg, including for zoning changes to the area and working to extend the 7 train. And Mayor de Blasio’s administration, and city agencies in general, were thanked for their efforts.
Gary LaBarbera, president of the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York, also spoke. B.C.T.C. reached a truce with Related in early March after a yearlong boycott and protest of the project for using some non-union labor.
LaBarbera said the Vessel is not just a structure but a work of art, and that the ironworkers and everyone who constructed it took great pride in the work.
“This project is iconic and transformative for the city of New York,” he said of Hudson Yards over all. “We were extremely proud to build this project. It was built by human hands, union human hands.”
Notables in the crowd included City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, Assemblymember Richard Gottfried and basketball star Carmelo Anthony. The former Knick forward was the second-tallest figure there, after Big Bird, who marveled to Anderson Cooper about the Vessel, “How big is the bird that lives in that nest?”
Other buildings in Hudson Yards have already opened. Tenants have been moving into the commercial towers at 30 and 55 Hudson Yards, and residents have started moving into 15 Hudson Yards. And 10 Hudson Yards — another commercial building — opened back in May 2016.
Made of bronzed steel, the Vessel art structure stands 150 feet tall and has 154 interconnecting flights of stairs. It is free to visit but requires a ticket that must be booked in advance.
The Instagram-friendly structure has a unique design and provides impressive views of the surrounding neighborhood and nearby Hudson River. It is open to the air, and those who are afraid of heights might have trouble making it all the way to the top. It includes an elevator, which climbs along one side of the structure’s interior at an angle.
The Vessel’s designer, Thomas Heatherwick, said he based its concept on the city’s history of public spaces, including Central Park and the High Line.
“We wanted to make something free for everyone,” he said.
He told the crowd there was a final step before the piece was complete — namely, activating it with use.
“The point was to lift up 700 people at a time, and thousands every day,” he said. “It’s not finished until you’re on it.”