Hudson Yards, a real estate term not on anyone’s radar just a short time ago, has been everywhere in the news recently – New York’s first Neiman Marcus store is planned for the area, the third and final section of the High Line Park has opened there, there are even plans for a residential tower higher than the Empire State Building. One of the largest real estate developments in history, and the biggest project in NYC since the Grand Central Terminal, the redevelopment of railyards on the far west side is a collaboration between MTA and NYC Department of City Planning. Technically the area spans 30th to 34th Streets, Tenth Avenue to Hudson River. However, a large area of the far west side was rezoned to allow growth for business, roughly all the way up to 42nd street and west over to Penn station and the new Moynihan station (the old Post Office). Because of the need to build over the rail yards, the entire new development is basically being built as a platform on stilts. There is already ferry service to New Jersey and Yankee Stadium from the area, and a helipad in Hudson River Park, but with the extension of the 7 subway line to 11th Avenue and 34th Street by 2015, the area will soon not seem so isolated from the rest of Manhattan. Eventually, Hudson Yards will encompass 500 residences (the first two towers will be 75 and 90 stories), over 100 shops, 6 acres of open space, 4 office towers, and New York’s highest open air observatory.
With all the recent press, I decided to walk around the neighborhood to get a feel for this rapidly-transforming area. Emerging from the subway at Herald Square, I walked past Macy’s and headed west on 34th Street. As anyone familiar with the area now knows, in its present state there’s not much of a neighborhood vibe. As soon as I walked past Eighth Avenue, however, large-scale construction began to dominate the scene. Walking south on Ninth, while not yet part of the official Hudson Yards site, a large construction project marks the new Manhattan West development, which is being built over a platform constructed over the rail yards. Turning west on 30th Street, it is eventually possible to take the stairs up to the High Line Park, just at the intersection of Phase 2 and the newly opened Phase 3. This final stage allows a person to walk from the Meatpacking District to 34th Street without ever crossing a city street, immersed in the city while simultaneously somehow apart from it – literally “above” it. There is one spur of the final phase that will run through Tenth Avenue and directly through Hudson Yards. The current path now open takes you west to the Hudson River before you disembark at 34th Street.
One of the reasons for walking around a neighborhood rather than simply researching it on paper is that there is an intangible aspect to any area that cannot be experienced unless you are standing there. For the rapidly expanding Hudson Yards region, it’s impossible to convey the extent of the construction or the enormity of this change in this area unless you are surrounded by it. To walk in Hudson Yards is to be present at the birth of a new neighborhood, one that seems limitless in terms of how it will change the landscape of New York City