2020年1月17日 星期五

N.Y. Today: Hudson Yards Divide

What you need to know for Friday and the weekend.

Hudson Yards: No Wall, but a Great Wealth Divide

By Rebecca Liebson


It’s Friday. We’re off on Monday for Martin Luther King’s Birthday.

Weather: Sunny, with a high near 30. Snow moves in tomorrow.

Alternate-side parking: In effect until Monday (Martin Luther King’s Birthday).


Stephanie Keith/Getty Images

It was going to be a giant wall dividing Hudson Yards, the country’s largest mixed-use private real estate venture, from the popular High Line.

The blowback was immediate. According to Corey Johnson, the speaker of the City Council, a barrier would break a deal that the developer, Related Companies, made years ago to provide open space to everyone.


Days after my colleague Michael Kimmelman had first reported the news of the partition, Related apparently changed course. On Wednesday, in a series of Twitter posts, Hudson Yards said there was no final design for the Western Yard — the next phase of development, which the wall would have been part of.

To learn more about how Hudson Yards is transforming Manhattan’s Far West Side, I spoke with Mr. Kimmelman, who is The Times’s architecture critic.

Michael, Hudson Yards has changed the Far West Side in obvious ways, but what kind of impact has it had on the city as a whole?

Partly, the impact is symbolic and psychological. Hudson Yards’s skyscrapers are, for many people, a daily visual reminder of the ways in which the city seems to be surrendering itself increasingly to the wealthy.

Why has Hudson Yards become such a big symbol of the divide between the haves and have-nots?

The immense scale of the place, the way its luxury mall turns its back to 10th Avenue, its whole purposeful otherness — all of that is a strategy to create an enclave, something the developer thinks its clients desire.


But this otherness also reinforces an impression that Hudson Yards is more Singapore than New York; that it doesn’t quite belong to the city — to New Yorkers — and instead belongs to its owners; and that City Hall, under the Bloomberg administration, turned over this precious chunk of Manhattan to an exclusive development for private profit.

That may not be entirely fair or the whole story. Look, lots of big companies have moved into Hudson Yards, which is good news for the city because it means New York is where they want to be.

But I’ve also talked with public officials who say Hudson Yards has made it harder to have a productive conversation about building taller and denser, which we need to do to create more affordable housing. It has complicated negotiations over other large-scale mixed-use projects and neighborhood rezonings.

Why did Related Companies backtrack on a wall?

Because a wall was clearly not going to fly. But this is a long process.

While I don’t want to seem cynical, developers may float an idea, make an opening gambit, then come back with what they’ll frame as a compromise or a concession to some unanticipated engineering obstacle — which is really a win for them.

What’s next for Hudson Yards?

The Western Yard remains years off. It will deck over a dozen or so acres of rail tracks. The deal the developers struck with the community board and the city was that it would have lots of public open space, linked with the High Line and the riverfront — a promise that Related has now reiterated.

But nothing is set in stone. The company still has its own motivations for designing what might feel more like a gated development. You never know what privacy-obsessed tech tenants might demand. The ultimate disposition of the open space will come down to continued vigilance by the public and public leadership.


Explore news from New York and around the region

The Mini Crossword: Here is today’s puzzle.

What we’re reading

A woman, 67, was fatally struck by plywood signage in Queens. [New York Post]

Why did the Metropolitan Transportation Authority take both elevators at Grand Central out of service? [Gothamist]

New York City’s high-school graduation rate improved slightly in 2019. [The Wall Street Journal]

Coming up this weekend


The “A Good Beginning, Here” exhibit opens at Flushing Town Hall in Queens. 6 p.m. [$5 suggested donation]


Based on a short story by Chris Offutt, “Chuck’s Bucket,” an exhibit featuring students’ work, opens at the SVA Gramercy Gallery in Manhattan. 10 a.m. [Free]

Attend “Growing Up Black: Graphic Memoirs for Y.A.,” a panel and Q. and A. that is part of the Black Comic Book Festival at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Manhattan. 11 a.m. [Free]


The Green Book” screens at the New York Society for Ethical Culture in Manhattan. 1:30 p.m. [Free]

The Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra performs at Birdland Jazz Club in Manhattan. 8:30 p.m. and 11 p.m. [$30]

— Melissa Guerrero

Events are subject to change, so double check before heading out. For more events, see the going-out guides from The Times’s culture pages.

And finally: Before the Astros cheated …

The Times’s Corey Kilgannon writes:

This week, Major League Baseball officials announced that the Houston Astros had cheated during their 2017 championship-winning season by using a camera to figure out what pitches were about to be thrown to their batters.

The scandal — which prompted the resignation of Carlos Beltran, the former Astro who was only recently named as the Mets’ manager — has resulted in severe penalties for the Astros, whose players banged on a oil-drum-style trash can near the dugout to tip off their batters.

As it happens, the Astros’ methods parallel those used by the New York Giants in 1951, when they stunned the Brooklyn Dodgers to win the National League pennant, with the help of their third baseman Bobby Thomson.

Mr. Thomson’s homer, in the final game of a three-game National League playoff, became known as “the shot heard ’round the world,” one of the greatest moment in baseball history.

It was later revealed, in 2001, that the Giants, whose home field was the Polo Grounds in Upper Manhattan, used a telescope to spy on opposing catchers’ signals to pitchers. While the Giants used bells and buzzers, their system of alerting batters was not unlike the Astros’.

“The schemes were nearly identical — both had three parts,” said Joshua Prager, a writer who uncovered the Giants’ cheating scandal and wrote a 2001 Wall Street Journal article about it, then a 2006 book. “The Astros used a camera, monitor and a drum,” he said. “The Giants used a telescope, a buzzer and hand signals.”

Mr. Prager said he was not surprised that the Astros’ sign stealing was finally discovered.

“The truth always comes out,” he said. “It’s hard to carry a big secret.”

It’s Friday — play hard but fair.

Metropolitan Diary: ‘Happy Friday’

Dear Diary:

I stopped on the way to work as usual to get a coffee from a cart on 55th Street and Seventh Avenue.

“Good morning, David!” I said to the coffee man.

“Good morning sweetheart,” he said. “Happy Friday.”

I was dismayed at having to the break the news to him, but I let him know it was only Thursday.

“Actually,” the man standing behind me said, “It’s Wednesday.”

— Heda Hokschirr

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