Last week the big event in New York City was the opening of Hudson Yards. Called a “dystopian playground” for the rich by some observers, it opened to mixed reviews. It is a 25 billion dollar proposition and the largest urban real estate complex built since Rockefeller Center opened in the 1930s. There are stores and restaurants, most notably the first Neiman Marcus to open in New York. The central feature of the complex is a large spiral staircase with 154 interconnecting flights of stairs, named the Vessel. I must confess it puts one in mind of the architecture of Dubai, it seems oddly out of place in New York City.
Many of my fellow Instagram influencers were there for opening night of VIP and celebrity festivities but between being down with the flu and catching up on content to be produced for other projects and the usual academic chores, Calvin and I elected to check it out under less “instagramable” circumstances. We decided to go into tourist mode. So Sunday afternoon we entered the “city within a city”. or as one critic observed, consumerism on steroids. Although an H & M and Zara were thrown in the mix of Van Cleef & Arpels, Dior, and other luxury shops, it was clear this was, in fact, a place for tourists and the very rich and not necessarily everyday New Yorkers. I must admit I felt overwhelmed, confused and not really happy about what I was seeing. It felt very unlike my idea of New York; what it is and what it represents.
The one thing I can admit to is wanting to see Neiman Marcus. I have an emotional attachment to that store as it was a favorite of my grandmother and her sisters during the time they all lived together in Dallas and traveled the world. They moved in together after they were all widowed within the same year. When my grandmother would visit the tags in her clothes attested to her frequent visits to the store. I can still smell the way her perfume lingered in her clothes and on the satin hangers she hung them on. I adored her and how elegant, smart and nonconformist she was.
So in search of my grandmother’s spirit, Calvin and I entered the store and what I found most interesting was a beautiful exhibit of black and white prints by Bill Cunningham and fanciful seating tableaus set throughout the women’s clothing floor. Hidden among the racks of clothes, we found them engaging and as the tourists, we were this day, we started taking photos. The creative challenge of hunting them down and creating a photo made me feel so much more authentic and real than if I was buying something. After that, satiated and feeling like we had just eaten an overly rich meal we left Hudson Yards, not feeling much like we wanted to return., Later that night we wandered into a classic New York neighborhood joint, on a nondescript corner in a more messy, smelly, loud, and full of life and democratic kind of neighborhood and had dinner. We were out of tourist mode and back to being bona fide citizens of the real NYC. What a relief.
Great little piece.
I just learned about you and I’m secretly hoping you are distant cousin. My grandparents immigrated through Ellis Island and began their life as children in NYC. 2 generations later I’m living in Hawaii and teaching, doing the hard work (but lust after exquisite handbags and fashions that really don’t have a place in my day to day life). NYC has part of my heart and my roots. This fall my husband and I are introducing our kid to NYC. She’s an artist and a nonconformist. Deep in my heart I’m hoping she’ll fall in love and dive deep into the endless possibilities of your magical home. Mahalo.
Thank you and good luck to your daughter. NYC is a great place to be a creative.
Beautiful piece, Lyn. I’d love to read more about your grandmother and her sisters. xo Jen
They were quite the trio and I will share more.
Please do!!! This is an era lost to me, growing up with no mother and my grandmother disliked me, so I clung desperately to brief comments about a long gone perfume or a 1930’s fashion that seemed alien and wonderful to my childhood self. Growing up poor with a single father these garters and powder puffs and monogrammed this or that seemed all the more wonderful no matter how my father mocked it.
I find my generation and the ones after have kept up the consumption without the glamour. I bet you can share so much! ( i’d Encourage any women that lived through the 60’s or prior and had female relatives beyond that to share all the wonderful simple things you might not think is important! A mother’s make-up routine, how your grandmother shopped for clothing….etc etc! Joy!
Love what you do .
WOW, YOU ARE LOOKING GOOD, CHINA
Would like to know where to buy Lyn Slater fashions
I will start posting more about this, thanks for bringing it up.
Yes love her style & flare.
I so despised what had begun to happen the my Chelsea neighborhood, that I could not longer bear it. Having arrived on W26th St in my 3300 sq ft loft in 1995, model agencies had to be convinced that it was “safe” to send their models to my “new” neighborhood. Still shooting for J.Crew out of their 6th Avenue headquarters, in a neighborhood that itself has become overly trendy, I readied myself to move on from Crew after 12 years, helping to create a brand, and a “look”, from its inception in 1983. I found my “raw” new neighborhood to be inspiring, as I renovated my totally raw former garment warehouse space. It became my new creative home. The neighborhood or lack thereof inspired me. By 2012 I could no longer recognize my neighborhood, so over flooded with fashionista tourists and gallery hopping doctor’s wives. The soul had been sucked out of my neighborhood after 17 years. It was an all too common occurrence in so many artist pioneered enclaves in the city. I knew this day would inevitably arrive. I never imagined an abomination such as “The Yards”, more garish than anything which had blighted any other former photo district would RIP the heart from my haunts. With great sadness, I left MY Chelsea behind in 2012, vowing to NEVER return. To this day I have not. What I can see of the blighted skyline, confirms to me that NYC had truly become an artificial “gated artificial community”. I rejected any thought of moving to Brooklyn home to my Alma Mater Pratt institute, knowing it would suffer the same fate in short order. I on the rarest occasions return to NYC, it no longer possesses the true grit and inspiration that fed my creative spirit since the 70’s. I benefited well from my departure, but still resent and scoff at the invasion of the likes of an artificial staircase to “NOWHERE”, the ultimate confirmation that once you had entered “Hudson Yards”, one truly had arrived at the most soulless location in America. As Neil Young wrote in 1969, “Everybody knows this is nowhere”.
Man oh man be grateful you don’t live in the oil capitol of the United States, speaking of Houston Texas. You see we are consistently overrun by hordes of people from other parts of the country….i.e. New York [currently] that want to bring the essence of their far off homes with them and for decades developers here have had absolutely no dedication to our history at all….hell Sam Houston’s home was a registered land mark here on the bayou downtown and it got in the way off development so they just dug the son-of-a-bitch up and moved it to another location that had nothing to do with the battle that occurred here. Anyway, back to the point. About every 7 to 10 years Houston gets a new face lift and it mostly depends on what part of the county is RUINING to Houston to make the economy stable or pad the wealthy man’s pocket so that the game doesn’t collapse because we all know by know that “It’s to big to fail” right? You’d be happy living in downtown Houston right now it reminds me out Chelsea and you could own the penthouse here for what a ground floor would cost there.
When you left Chelsea, I entered. I know not of the Chelsea you describe, still, it sounds interesing, alive, with wonderful activity. My 2nd cousin knows your Chelsea, he does not know mine. It’s the neighborhood I fell in love with, the bridge and all, the quite from Times Square, almost a different world 2miles down the street. Still, we both have loved Chelsea.
Can you tell me where you bought those fabulous red booties with the kitten heel and laces?!
I got them about four years ago in a secondhand shop
Having been in Dubai I totally get your reference. Suddenly everything takes on a ho-hum vibe when presented with so many other “luxury” items. I can see why you were more fascinated with the architecture and placement of the seating areas. I think the perfect shopping is found in small stores and in thrift stores where each piece stands out and becomes much more interesting and appealing appealing than looking at massive mall schlock no matter what the price tags say.
That sounds so much like what my reaction would be! When I lived in Minneapolis that’s how I felt about the sprawling Mall of America: overwhelming, characterless, hard-edged, and depressing. On the few occasions I went there I never just left it–I escaped it and needed to recover. What a contrast you draw between Hudson Yards, the true elegance your grandmother modeled, and the vitality of a real neighborhood. Love the photo.
Yes when we drain emotion from an experience I for one do not feel real and that is not a state I favor!
You read my mind AI! This playground for the rich has nothing to do with my New York….that is melting away daily….
I too have a strong emotional attachment to Neiman Marcus. I grew up in Texas with a mom and grandmother that liked “nice things” although they could not afford them most of their lives. But there was always a little something they could buy and it cost nothing to browse! I shop there, mostly now on line as I am not close but I always find a good deal on something I want. Love being in a real store to bring back all those memories.
Sounds like that was the highlight of the complex!
For me it was!
I saw you on a commerical at friends RV..you see I dont watch tv….normally….however , I saw you. Amazing you! You have done things I’ve only dreamed about…made it come true.your style shows through you cloths,how you carry yourself, and your smile…..came get enough of your clothes….
She’s a fashion GENIUS!! A fashion GURU!!!
My first thought was, they just closed the last one in Houston some 2oyrs ago and now they’ve re-opened in New York, SO shouldn’t Houston have been first for the big one? Or even Dallas even though it’s a much smaller city…..how bout Texas?
Your insights are spot on and I love your down to earth elegance. As a young teen, I was introduced to Nieman Marcus by a very hip music teacher. One afternoon, I watched, mesmerized, as she was transformed by staff with a lovely hairpiece called a wiglet. I was charged with carrying the very colorful hairpiece box which resembled a hatbox around big D and thought I was on cloud 9. Thanks for sharing your adventures.
Thanks for that very sweet memory.
Very interesting. I must admit that the entire mall/entertainment seems so not New York. Thank you for your insight.
Good for you and I agree. Quite a disappointment. Even the Vessel. Who wants to climb all those stairs to nowhere (and wait to get a ticket!).
And give up the rights to all your photos too.
Very informative, descriptive, interesting, well-written post. Love your blog, and absolutely love your style.
? Patricia, Minneapolis, MN
I must admit I was curious about this building. I was in New York on a business trip this summer and saw the Vessel. It’s interesting to hear how actual New Yorkers feel about it. I may visit it as a tourist on the next trip — or not. I prefer spending time enjoying the “real” New York — a little more gritty and urban.
Also when you get your ticket which you must have to enter it also says that the Vessel owns the rights to any pictures you take while on it!
I love Neiman Marcus so I’m glad your experience at Hudson Yards was good. What the world loves about New York are the surprises around every corner and the little places to eat. I am what I don’t love about today’s shopping is it’s ubiquitous nature. Homogenized by sameness from city to city. Give me unique and rare please.
I think the hunt for the unique and rare before it completely goes away is a good project, thanks for the inspiration.
Thank you for this. Such a pity we don’t gave more photos. By the way, I adore your red shoes.
Absolutely! If you ever visit Winston Salem NC theres’ a tiny gem called “Gaia” that I love. Wouldn’t it be great to have a guide all across the country to these rare, unique places that save us from homogenous living? Maybe Linda Mcmahon our Small Business Association representative in Congress could consider this?
I love this idea! Maybe we could all start sharing our hidden gems.
Saw the Vessel featured on the news and glad to get your take on it. I’m a new subscriber and would LOVE to get your ‘real New York’ fave spots!
I think after this I am going to take you up on that project.
And that gave me a third reason to subscribe, which I will do right away. But before I segue to the sign up form, I would like to share with you (just because you deserve to know) the other two reasons I’m subscribing to your blog. Like your charming stories, the reasons are short and sweet: 1) the easy unpretentious style of your writing (very enjoyable to read and just long enough); and 2) akin to that elusive “authenticity” quality, I point to the relatability of the finished product. It’s almost like reading a letter from a friend telling about a day’s adventure. Thank you.
Thank you this is very good feedback for me. Thanks for taking the time to share it.
Thank you! I peruse, taste smell and live vicariously through your words and images. #inspired!
It is so refreshing to read someone’s authentic thoughts. The only place I’ve found that lately is in memoirs of (now) dead people. News outlets offer echo chambers. Bloggers are sanitized by sponsorships. And social media posts, while authentic, are so vitriolic that I can’t take them. While you don’t need me to say what countless others must tell you — I’m so appreciative of the intersection of style, humanity, and age that you have created. Thank you.
To me we are all very engaged in creating more modern narratives of age as everybody is going to have longer lifespans in the future. I would rather us get ahead of the narrative than have one written for us. So let’s make sure our voice about what is important during this time of life gets on the table.
Enjoyed reading this! Thank you!
Ahh. As you have described, this is not the NY I know and love. This emphasizes how much NY has sold its soul to the rich and is engulfed in consumption culture. Glad you countered its effects with a “smelly, loud, and full of life, democratic NY” experience. You described it perfectly and as a curious NY’er, I will visit with a discerning eye. I wonder what your grandmother would think of Hudson Yards?
Since she loved history, art, craftsmanship and had a very big sense of decorum I think she would have dismissed it! This is a woman who went to Hong Kong to have her suits made because she thought they had the best tailors in the world.
I find it fascinating that the type of glitzy, painted-on, luxury consumerism that to me, reeks of inauthenticity, has found its way to New York. I am surprised New York is/was vulnerable to this sort of shopping environment. Hopefully Hudson Yards will remain a tourist attraction and that New Yorkers and the city itself, don’t get gobbled up in the kitsch.
That said, I am eager to see the place. The staircase sounds spectacular!
I don’t regret taking a look, not sure I will be back.
Thanks, for the vivid description of this new Disney like enterprise. I haven’t been yet.
Hi Lyn! Thanks for your thoughtful review of Hudson Yards.
I was talking recently with my daughter in New Zealand, wondering how the people there got so nice. One difference I asked about was if the emphasis on greed and competition was less in New Zealand.
Our sense of place shapes these values. I wish city developments here could offer us something more creative, artistic, more accessible and enriching for the average person.
That’s what made the city great it offered culture and art to everyone regardless of income, that is quickly changing.
Enjoy your way of thinking and that you liked the messy, smelly, loud and full of life place better. Not sure how I discovered your site to begin with, but glad I did. Yes, democracy is much better than an expensive tourist trap.
That’s realness and we are fast losing it.
I love your matched seating position, with the mannequin…so artful..you have such flair.!!!
Thank you, it was a good distraction!
What a wonderful vignette of the new Hudson Yards. When I first heard about its development, I was sure it was just going to be an upscale version of the latest trend in cities across the country – basically outdoor walking malls. I was sure that NYC would kick it up one level . . . and your description confirmed my suspicions. I will still always prefer the local corner shops and restaurants that NYC is famous for when I visit. Why would Dallas tourists want to shop at NM in NYC when they have the real deal at home?
Agreed you can find generic anywhere. I think I better start documenting those gritty wonderful corners of NYC before they all get gobbled up and disappear.
My husband and I have always loved visiting NYC. Now that he is retired and I am semi-retired, we are going to Manhattan tomorrow on a strict budget. And we will get to experience the city in all of its gritty and authentic splendor. We will take the bus down and back. We always walk along Fifth Avenue and window shop in the famous luxury store windows like Tiffany, Bulgari and Cartier. We will eat in ordinary neighborhood restaurants with real New Yorkers. We will sleep in a king-size bed in a small hotel room in Midtown. And we will take the subway down to the Meatpacking District to the new Whitney Museum of American Art to view the extensive exhibit of a true New York original, Andy Warhol. This weekend will be a great romantic trip, and we will experience the authentic NYC, not a modern world of make-believe.
Andy Warhol was a true PITTSBURGH original.
I love this perspective. Thank you for being a champion of the New York that I love & the New York of my childhood.
Thanks for sharing your experience. I’m a New Yorker at heart. I must look up this place right now.
As a transplanted New Yorker, I appreciate your take on this. I still think of New York as “my” city, and one of the things I love most about it is its authenticity and the locals’ sense of style. What you’ve described sounds like the antithesis of that.
Yes losing all the best parts.
entirely with you with your comments….these Hudson Yards seem like a dinosaur at this time of our era. I am fed up with all stores being the same, looking the same, feeding the urge of owning designers goods and missing more individual and creative ones but the rents are so high in every large city that it is very difficult to find…
Agreed, I am going to try and find and post about some of those individual and creative folks.
Where does the investment come from? 25B is a major sum! They could build a Trump Wall with that! I suspect the Saudi’s, or are American investors at play?
Good question, I will have to do some research. In a way this is like a wall. The architect critic from the NY Times likened it to a semi-gated community for the rich.
You are a great writer and I love your sense of humor posing like the model on the settee. I always enjoy reading your comments.
Thank you I appreciate that feedback.
I had only read about the architecture and the urban planning aspects of this development. Your comments are far more amusing. It’s a bit like the Coal Drop Yards development of Kings Cross Rail station and surroundings in London. Pleasantly surprised to see this post.
I always try to write my true feelings
I enjoyed your description and picture
How sad that this is just what I expected it to be. You are so right, this is much more an attraction you would find in Dubai. Give me Brooklyn any day, this is not the New York one thinks of with affection.
As New York and everywhere becomes ahistorical we lose valuable lessons and forget our roots.
I don’t visit much of anything modern when I’m lucky enough to travel. The history breaths life into everything!
Thank for your honest assessment of New York’s newest real estate. As a life long New Yorker I love strolling through the different neighborhoods shopping and/or eating; Harlem to The Village and I too love the “messy, smelly, loud and more democratic” places that the Teal New York offers.
That is where life and realness is in my book.
That was beautifully written and I enjoyed the contrasts vbetween the new and old, dystopian and democratic NY. I am from the other side of the world though have visited your wonderful city as a tourist I dot that you nailed what makes New York New York 🙂
How interesting, thank you for sharing, sounds like my idea of hell as well! Love the photographs and won’t be putting that on my list of things to see next time I am in NYC. x
You are my hero! I actually look forward to birthdays now.
Wonderful! Every reason to when we are still alive!
Thank you for a glimpse into a real New Yorker’s experience of Hudson Yards. My family and I will be experiencing it as tourists in April and we look forward to it. Love your blog!
a.k.a., The Accidental Publicist
I look forward to hearing your take on it.
Thanks for posting what I call a more revealing view of the new Hudson Yards–a place for tourists and ultra-rich snobs. Like you, I would only want to go to this location for a specific reason ( for me to climb The Vessel). I was unaware there wasn’t a Nieman Marcus in NYC, but there is one in the Westchester Mall, which is quite lovely and not full of crowds of tourist. I will view the Hudson Yards from pictures and enjoy Neiman Marcus out of NYC.
I must admit that I found it troubling that 25 billion was spent in that manner when we have so many children living in poverty and the lack of affordable housing is causing so much displacement.
You are real. Thanks.
Personally I’m not a fan of the ‘influencer’ movement – but it’s great to see a genuine opinion on something and not just what people want to hear. Good on you for an honest appraisal and even though I’m miles away in Wellington, NZ – I totally get it. x
I am too stubborn not give a real opinion! You may be miles away but the world could take some lessons from your Prime Minister. Swift, decisive actio based on preserving your values as a country.So sorry about what’s happened but inspired by how it is being addressed.
Great post,thanks Lyn!
Brava Lyn! I have been to NYC once 5 yrs ago. I was a tourist & would not have enjoyed Hudson Yards. Give me a local eatery, a Thrift Store and a walk about Central Park to see the turtles & I’d be thrilled.
Sounds like the individuality has been homogenised into to a warehouse. Thank you though for the evocative recall on your grandmother and Neiman Marcus…..the best bit ?
Well said and I like your perspective!
Thank you for your review! I’ve been meaning to ask some of my New Yorker friends to give me their feedback and I’m guessing there is would be similar! I love your description of your grandmother because she sounds just like mine! As always, your authenticity is refreshing and appreciated ??dd
Fabulous story. As a Sydneysider and one time visitor of New York and a big fan of yours Lyn, I thoroughly enjoyed it
Love this writing. The visit felt very real to me. Although I grew up in the southwest, I was born in NY City on Governor’s Island, but my family left there when I was very young.
I found your writing very engaging, and though I am not much for shopping centers at all as I normally find them very tabula raza, lacking stories, this felt as though there was a story, and so it was comfortable like a good shoe. More and more, because of your writing, I am feeling the world of fashion to be more interesting, and I thank you for that.
Thank you then I am doing my job.
Hello, I am silent reader of your blog – untill today. Decided to comment. Maybe it’s a spring feeling?
I admire you and love your blog.
And that thing… your purse – love it – what brand is it?
MCM, a Korean brand.
Ohhh, you’ve captured it perfectly. Sometimes “too big” is simply, too darned big (even for our NYC). What a luscious relief it must have been to breathe in the real thing afterwards…mmmm
I really enjoyed this read. As a tourist in NYC the only department store I set my foot in was Lord and Taylor. The small boutiques were full of unique and fabulous preter-a-porter.
Thankyou, Lyn. I am proud to be a fan.
The summer of 1968, I was thrilled to land a job at Neiman’s tea roomin downtown Dallas. I spent my paltry salary on beautiful matching bra and panties sets in the palest shades of coffee, rose, lilac, mint and blue. That money was meant to cover some of my college expenses. Imagine my chagrin when I went off to school and discovered bras were so passe! Neiman Marcus is just about the only department store left where their staff view themselves as career professionals. Salud to Neiman Marcus and to your grandmother! Thanks for the memory!
Thanks for this wonderful story.
Lovely piece. Sumptuous.
Dear Lynn, Heres’ my prescription antibody for “Hudson Yards Experience”syndrome. First of all you did the right thing to “wander into a classic New York joint in a democratic kind of neighborhood.” Next, listen to The fabulous Grace Jones’ rendition of “The Apple Stretching!” Follow this up with The great Lou Reeds’ “NYC Man” continue on with his “Sunday Morning”. Lastly climb into bed with his beautiful “Perfect Day”! This will “set you right” in no time!!! As for me I’m going to consider printing an athletic style shirt with “ NYC EVERY BODY”! 🙂 Like othersI want to hear more about your grandmother and her sisters! Keep up your good work!
From the photos I have seen on a couple of instagrammers’ feeds that I follow, Hudson Yards won’t be on my list of things to see when I next visit NYC. It doesn’t seem very “New York” at all, and the only things I would have enjoyed seeing would have been the Bill Cunningham prints.
I would love to hear more about your grandmother and her sisters! Maybe on my next visit?
I understand all the sentiments involved in reference to The Vessel appearing out of place and little did I know that a quasi-utopian residential real estate is involved as well.
The only Grandmother I knew used to shop at a high profile dept store in FL which she worked in as well comparable to Neiman-Marcus. Her name was Isabelle and she was quite sophisticated, had amazing posture, was a seamstress and made her own clothing and dressed very. shiek. I miss her to this day. Neiman-Marcus aka as “Needless-Markup” was an anchor store in a downtown mall in Columbus, OH for sometime however Central Ohio did not support a higher end store nor the downtown mall it was part of unfortunately. Your writing has triggered a rush of great memories, opened the portal. My Mother Antoinette worked in a bank on the same block and we loved the mall and the store’s contained within. It will be ashame for people to spend their entire jaunts to The Vessel and not truly taste what NYC is truly about. Cheers to your site and thanks fof the memories.
I only lived in NYC briefly, but it made a lifetime impact on me. My fave shopping was actually St Mark’s where all the punk rock clothing could be had. It’s changed quite a bit since I lived there, but they still have a few throwbacks and thrift stores. I hope they are not edged out by the “mallcore” brands.
You are really an inspiration! Age just is a number you proof that. I really Impressed. Any tips or suggestion for starting blogs.
Best tip, just start doing it. That’s how I learned everything about blogging.
Now that is super fun: to be a tourist in your native hometown or city, you find interesting nooks and crannies, boutiques , dining establishments and coming on an unusual day or time and interesting event may be happening or you shop somewhere and put your name on a mailing list, etc.
Yes I think I am going to use this idea more to create posts and images of New York that I see with new eyes.
You an the mannequin look ready to jump an runaway. The photo shows your feelings on this place. btw love your style.
Thank you and I indeed did have some feelings!
Girlfriend- We love your style! If you’re ever in the Detroit area you’re going to have to stop at our shop! You will love the vintage flair of all of our things we would love to dress you with accessories retro-Detroit style! We love your website, and all your posts! You brighten our day. Thanks for being a powerhouse-role-model to so many folks of all ages! Kindest regards-Susan and the VITRINE Gallery Team!
You’re such a fashionable icon!
Great story, I get what you mean. Love the photo with you mirroring the mannequin.
You are definitely an inspiration! Just so fabulous! Keep living your best life. #GOALS
What an inspiration you are!!! Thank you for being a shining light to all. As a girl in her mid 50’s I see hope, fun and adventure in the future. I will come back here often.