After the morning bagel breakfast in Brooklyn and the walk along the scenic High Line, we went to see Vessel. When we went, it was free to enter but you had to pre-book, which my generous Airbnb hosts, Max and Alia, had done.
I loved The Vessel. There was something different yet familiar about it. Like lots of good ideas, it’s obvious once you see it. It has no purpose but to be there to allow you to ascend its multi-directional stairs and admire the structure and surrounding area. If you take the right steps, you reach the top. You’re rewarded with a view of the Hudson River, the city and beyond.
After I wrote the above, I was looking for one of my India photos. Whilst looking, I came across a photo of a stepwell I’d taken in Jodhpur, Rajasthan. I then realised that I had seen Vessel before – it was Toorji Ka Jhalra (Tooji’s stepwell) built 250 years ago! I’ve included my photo of the stepwell in this post.
Out of curiosity, I looked into the history of Vessel. There’s no “the” in the name although I suspect most people probably say, “I’m going to the Vessel”. It’s a bit like iPhone. Apparently, Steve Jobs and Apple have always wanted to call it simply “iPhone” and not “the iPhone”. If you look at the Apple website, you’ll see sentences like “legendary simplicity of iPhone”.
Anyway, definite article or not, back to Vessel. According to Wikipedia, its architect is Thomas Heatherwick. He’s British and has quite a few designs to his credit. In London, he designed the 2012 Olympic cauldron that featured in Danny Boyle’s opening ceremony, Coal Drops Yard in Kings Cross, and even the notorious but never-built Garden Bridge. When I got to the Wikipedia description for Vessel, I was delighted to learn the resemblance to stepwells wasn’t coincidental, as encapsulated by this title: New York adds a futuristic monument to its skyline inspired by India’s ancient stepwells.
Vessel is the centrepiece of a bigger, relatively modern, complex: Hudson’s Yard. On a subsequent day, I returned to Hudson Yard to see one of the outdoor open concerts there. At one point, people started crowding around an attractive man. I thought he might be a Hollywood celebrity. He wasn’t: he was a footballer. Someone said he played for Real Madrid. The team was over for a pre-season summer tour. Everyone wanted a selfie with him. At one point, an elderly Japanese woman was trying to take a selfie but somehow couldn’t frame both of them in the picture. Looking bemused, the footballer held her phone and took the selfie for her. I like to think that this was the Japanese woman’s idea all along: to appear a bumbling old woman unable to cope with modern technology so that she could later tell her friends that the Real Madrid player not only held her phone but also took a selfie of them!
After a while, the footballer’s companion asked people to let him go since he was out for a summer stroll. I’ve forgotten his name but If you recognise him, please let me know!