Monday, March 25, 2019

Hudson Yards and the Grand Cosmo

Writing in The New Yorker, Alexandra Schwartz likens Manhattan’s Hudson Yards to “an amenity-stuffed Hotel California that its residents never have to leave. . . . The only thing that Hudson Yards is missing is its own weather.”

A Manhattan model for Hudson Yards can be found in Steven Millhauser’s novel Martin Dressler: The Tale of an American Dreamer. Starting as a boy working in his father’s cigar store, Martin rises “to a height of dreamlike good fortune” as a builder of hotels. His final achievement is the Grand Cosmo, which opens in 1905. It’s a strange place: “people didn't know exactly what it was.” Promoting it is a challenge, as Martin has placed a significant restriction on the work of his advertising genius Harwinton:

Steven Millhauser, Martin Dressler: The Tale of an American Dreamer (New York: Vintage, 1996).

“A complete and self-sufficient world”: Hudson Yards advertises itself as a place to live, shop, work, and dine. (Not eat.) There’s even, as Schwartz notes, a hot-dog stand in what the developer calls “the neighborhood of the future.” I suppose you can dine on hot dogs if you’re a tourist in the neighborhood.

I expect that someday I’ll visit New York and everything I love about the city will have been obliterated. All that will be left: a theme park whose price of admission I cannot — and would not want to be able to — afford.

comments: 2

Slywy said...

It has a "Snark Park." It must be like living in a high school.

Michael Leddy said...

“Immersive installations”: I swear, it’s the Grand Cosmo.