We’re going to tell you what the New York tourism board refuses to admit: yes, Hudson Yards is a mall (they prefer the phrase “cultural centre,” but the Banana Republic says otherwise). But oh, if all malls were like this, the word would lose its suburban, cookie-cutter connotations. If only every mall featured interactive public artworks alongside its luxury shopping experiences, buzzy wine bars alongside celebrity-chef-endorsed food stalls, and experimental self-serve beverage boutiques alongside the air-conditioning and escalators.
At the end of the High Line, you’ll find this mall/cultural centre/micro-neighbourhood cantilevered atop the Hudson railyards. Not everyone’s a fan—New York magazine called the $25-billion development “a billionaire’s fantasy city”—but it’s a fascinating example of urban planning (and, yeah, shopping) that’s worth exploring.
To Mercado, to Mercado
Curated with the help of former El Bulli chefs Albert and Ferran Adrià, Mercado Little Spain is a loving homage to chef José Andrés’ home country, and a delicious one at that. The market puts cheesemongers, paella stations and sherry-forward wine bars into one lively shared space. Pull up a stool wherever you find room and forget for a minute you’re in New York.
A visit to the interactive Snark Park exhibit from New York creative firm Snarkitecture might feature a room full of surrealist monochromatic tubes—one covered in fur; the next lined with golf balls or disco-ball mirrors—and no clear directions, but no promises: the immersive installations here are never the same twice. Find the experimentalism overwhelming? Grab a Kith Treats ice cream from the cereal bar and even out that blood sugar.
Peach Mart is David Chang’s love letter to Asian convenience stores, featuring an edited selection of Japanese chips and fresh kimbap rolls; right next door, he embraces a more elevated culinary scene with Kāwi, a Korean fine-dining experience.
(Though it’s not entirely devoid of the Momofuku chain’s humour: “Yesterday’s Stinky Soybean Stew” makes an appearance on the menu… for $47.)
Okay, so the Plinth isn’t technically part of Hudson Yards, but if you’re here anyway, you may as well hop up to the High Line. In June, an extension to the beloved linear park opened, specifically dedicated to showcasing large-scale, contemporary, commissioned public sculpture. The Plinth’s inaugural feature work is the monumental Brick House by Simone Leigh: a 16-foot-high bust of an eyeless black woman, emerging from a clay house and facing down the city.
Michael Moran for Related-Oxford
Is it an interactive sculpture, or a hyper-stylized way to tackle Leg Day? Either way, the Thomas Heatherwick-designed Vessel is a sight to be seen, either from below or at the very tip-top of the structure. (If you can find your way there through the Escher-like maze of steps, that is.)
It’s already hosted multidisciplinary crossovers like Bjork’s Cornucopia, but The Shed also provides space for up-and-comers alongside its marquee events. (Open Call, a recent exhibit, spotlighted new contemporary artists from around the globe.) With eight storeys of gallery spaces and theatres, plus an extendable external shell that can glide on rails to cover the plaza and expand the building’s capacity, there’s plenty of room for big stars and small names alike.
Travelling east is such a time suck, but if you splurge on a business class red-eye flight on Cathay Pacific—where the pillows and duvets are nice enough to want to steal and the seats recline until fully flat in your private pod seat—you’ll wake up at JFK refreshed and ready to roll, not a moment lost.