New York City certainly has its share of tourist attractions. Some, such as the Statue of Liberty, Central Park or Radio City Music Hall, are decades old. Other places that tourists like to visit are much newer. Moynihan Station. The Harry Potter Store (we visited that one – let’s just say it has its good points and its awful ones). Hudson Yards.
The Vessel, which opened in Hudson Yards in early 2019, was a popular tourist attraction before COVID struck. Part work of art, part tourist attraction, the 150-foot tall structure offered sweeping views of the Hudson River and New Jersey at the top.
Unfortunately, a 150-foot tall structure, besides inviting tourists who want good views, also attracts those intent on suicide.
Tragically, three people had killed themselves by jumping from the Vessel in the course of one year, causing it to close in January 2021 while developers decided what to do to prevent such tragedies from continuing.
The attraction reopened in May. Developers decided that making taller barriers that people couldn’t climb over (they were initially only chest high) wouldn’t be necessary. Instead, they added more security, began “screening procedures” intended “to detect high-risk behavior,” and included a National Suicide Prevention Lifeline message at the entrance of and on the tickets for the attraction (because now you had to buy $10 tickets to enter the Vessel. It wasn’t free anymore). Oh, and since every “jumper” had entered the Vessel alone, visitors could only gain entry in groups of two or more.
They thought they had solved their problem.
Tragically, it only took 2 months for them to learn they hadn’t.
The New York Times reports that on July 29th, a 14 -year-old boy, part of a group of five, committed suicide by jumping from Vessel.
The attraction closed immediately while a “full investigation” is conducted by Hudson Yards.
After the tragedy, Stephen M. Ross, the billionaire real estate developer who founded Related Companies, told The Daily Beast:
“We thought we did everything that would really prevent this. It’s hard to really fathom how something like that could happen. But you know, I feel terrible for the family.”
Both community members and representatives of the architecture studio that designed the Vessel had called on the developer, Related Companies, to make design changes when the structure closed in January.
From The Daily Beast:
“For Related to claim they did everything possible here is just not true,” said Lowell Kern, chair of Manhattan Community Board 4, which operates in parts of western Manhattan, including Hudson Yards. “They could have raised the height of the barriers, and that would have prevented this tragedy. For reasons unknown to us they decided not to do that.”
“We designed safety barriers for the Vessel a while back,” said an employee of the architecture studio that designed the Vessel. “It’s now time to install these.”
From the New York Times:
Studies have shown that fencing and barriers are effective at stopping or reducing suicide attempts. In the New York area, suicides and attempted suicides both decreased at the George Washington Bridge after netting and an 11-foot-high fence were installed in 2017.
Maybe the developer will consider these solutions more seriously now. Meanwhile, the Vessel will remain closed indefinitely while Related determines, again, how to move forward.
Feature Photo: Pixabay
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary