The Vessel is one of New York City’s newest attractions. This futuristic spiral staircase, which is the centerpiece of Hudson Yards, looks like something out of a science fiction movie. It’s fun to visit and fun to photograph, but it’s not without controversy.
In this guide to the Vessel, we share with you everything you need to know about how to visit the Vessel, from photo tips, to how to get your tickets, and how to have the best experience.
Note: Currently, only the ground level of the Vessel is open. Since its opening in 2019, four people have committed suicide by jumping off of the Vessel. Many people think that the height of the barriers on the Vessel should be increased or that it should be dismantled. Our visit was in June 2021.
What is the Vessel?
The Vessel is a spiral staircase where 154 flights of stairs, for a grand total of nearly 2,500 steps, are linked together. It was designed by Thomas Heatherwick and it cost $200 million to construct the Vessel.
The Vessel opened in March 2019 and it quickly became one of Manhattan’s most popular attractions.
Since its opening, the Vessel has closed several times. During the height of the Coronavirus pandemic, the Vessel closed for social distancing.
Tragically, between 2019 and May 2021, three people committed suicide by jumping from the Vessel. The Vessel closed after each of these incidents, and calls to dismantle the Vessel have gotten more adamant in recent months.
Instead of dismantling the Vessel, more security measures were put in place in order to keep it open to the public.
Staff at the Vessel was tripled. These staff members are trained to watch for behavior that could indicate if someone is considering self-harm. Visitors have to enter in pairs or groups.
Despite these added security measures, a fourth suicide occurred in July 2021. Currently, you can only visit the ground level of the Vessel. Many people think that the height of the barriers on the Vessel should be increased or that it should be dismantled.
View from the Equinox Hotel.
Where is the Vessel?
The Vessel is located in the Hudson Yards. This is the Manhattan’s newest and most expensive neighborhood. Construction costs are estimated to hit $2 billion and this is one of the largest private real estate development projects in US history. The construction of Hudson Yards is expected to be completed in 2025.
The Vessel is the centerpiece of Hudson Yards. To get here, take the 7 train to the 34th Street – Hudson Yards station. Once you exit the subway station, it’s impossible to miss the Vessel. You can also get to the Vessel by taxi, Uber, or Lyft, or by walking the High Line.
How to Visit the Vessel: Hours of Operation & Ticket Options
The Vessel is open Monday through Saturday 10 am to 8 pm and on Sunday from 11 am to 7 am. These hours are for the ground level only. It is free to visit.
Get updated hours before your visit and make your reservations online on the official website.
What to Expect on Your Visit to the Vessel
Currently, you can only visit the base level of the Vessel. This gives you a view looking up into the Vessel, but visitors are not permitted to go higher than the ground level.
Photos of the Vessel
I had a lot of fun taking photos here. There are many unique viewpoints, not only of the Vessel, but also of Hudson Yards. Our visit was in June 2021.
All of the photos in this guide were taken with a Canon 5D Mark IV and a 16-35 mm lens.
The base of the Vessel.
First view of the inside of the Vessel.
Looking straight up from ground level.
The view from one of the openings on the first level.
As you climb up the steps, you can zig zag your way up one side or you can slowly circle around the Vessel for different views.
There are 154 flights of stairs. It sounds exhausting, but mostly likely you will pause so many times for photos that you won’t really get tired.
Could this be one of the coolest elevator rides?
Getting close to the top.
Alien spaceship or New York City tourist attraction?
It took us about 25 minutes to climb to the top of the Vessel (we stopped A LOT for photos). We spent about 10 minutes on top before heading back down. Our entire visit lasted 45 minutes.
The top level of the Vessel.
We made one full lap on the top level before heading back down. I wish I kept a tally of how many of those 154 flights of stairs we climbed on our visit.
Let’s have one more look at those stairs!
Best Time to Visit the Vessel
If you want to visit the Vessel for free, the only time that you can do this is the first hour of the day, from 10 am to 11 am. From our experience, this is also the most crowded time to visit the Vessel.
The end of the day would also be a nice time to visit, particularly around sunset.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is there a time limit?
No, once you are on the Vessel, you can stay as long as you like. Most visits last 30 to 45 minutes. We spent 45 minutes here.
What if you are traveling solo?
To visit the Vessel, you have to visit in pairs or small groups. This rule was recently put in place to prevent another suicide attempt. If you are traveling solo, one of the Vessel staff members will accompany you during your visit.
Does the Vessel close if the weather is bad?
The Vessel can close during extreme weather. During our visit, the Vessel closed for several hours for thunderstorms that were located several miles away in New Jersey. Even though it was not raining in Manhattan, the Vessel did close.
If the Vessel closes due to extreme weather, you can exchange your ticket for a different date and time. But if it is raining and the Vessel stays open, you cannot exchange or get a refund of your ticket.
What else can you do in the area?
Spend some time in Hudson Yards and Chelsea. Visit the Edge (Manhattan’s most thrilling observation deck), walk the High Line, and grab a bite to eat at Chelsea Market (our favorite restaurants are Los Tacos, the Lobster Place, and Takumi). You can also visit the Chelsea Pier to hit some golf balls at the driving range or visit the Little Island.
If you, a friend, or a loved one have contemplated suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text TALK to 741741.
If you have any questions about how to visit the Vessel, or if you would like to share your experience, let us know in the comment section below.
More Information about New York City
BEST OF NEW YORK: For a list of the top experiences in New York City, read our article Best Things to Do in New York City.
CHELSEA & HUDSON YARDS: In our article Best Things to Do in Chelsea and Hudson Yards, learn about the best things to do in the area, with suggestions on where to eat and where to stay.
NYC ITINERARY: In our article 5 Days in New York City, we included detailed daily itineraries for exploring New York City. You can do all five days or follow just a day or two, if you have less time in the city.
NYC OBSERVATION DECKS: In our article Best Observation Decks in New York City, we rank all of the observation decks by price, height, and best view. We also have detailed guides on The Edge, SUMMIT One Vanderbilt, and One World Observatory.
NYC HOTELS: Need a place to stay? Check out our guide to the Best Hotels in New York City, organized by neighborhood.
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