I had a couple more posts in the pipeline from February that I had originally planned to publish this month, but with the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in NYC about to surpass 4,500 as of this writing—and confirmed coronavirus-related deaths up to 35—it seemed prudent to take a moment to address what’s been happening in the city so far in March.
As is the case in many parts of the world, the past week has been a rapid fire cascade of new information, new recommended lifestyle changes, and in some cases, new government mandated orders to curb the spread of the coronavirus. After a period of suggested social distancing, the closure of bars and restaurants, and some of the usual bickering between Mayor De Blasio and Governor Cuomo, an executive order is now being signed instructing all “non-essential” members of the workforce to remain at home. Effectively, the Governor is prohibiting social gatherings of any size and ordering everyone in the state to remain indoors (unless they work in a hospital, grocery store, or other essential service, or they are someone utilizing one of these services).
Hopefully such a drastic measure will significantly slow if not stop the spread of the virus through the community, though of course the number of confirmed cases will continue to rise as additional people receive tests and/or begin to display systems.
Strange times indeed.
On Wednesday, before the state-wide order was put into effect—but after most bars and restaurants were already told to limit their businesses to take-out only—I was approaching my second full week of self-isolation and needed a bit of fresh air. With public transportation and ride shares now a taboo, I decided to bike into Manhattan from Brooklyn with my camera to get a peek at the city on lockdown.
For the most part, photography has always been somewhat of a solo experience for me and yesterday was no different, but the almost complete silence emanating from the usually bustling streets of Manhattan was unlike anything I’ve experienced during my 13+ years in the city.
With NYU residence halls closing on March 22, it wasn’t a surprise that the area around the campus was deserted. However, the scene wasn’t much different as I made my way uptown.
Some restaurants and coffee shops were clearly making an effort to stay open, and apparently tour buses were still operating albeit with sparser crowds. I don’t know who would ride those things in the absence of a global pandemic never mind when the city is all but closed, so not really sure what to say about that 🙃
There were a few people milling about in Union Square, but I’ve seen it more crowded in pouring rain. Oddly enough, however, the farmer’s market was operating as usual.
Further north towards midtown the traffic on the roads began to increase, but sidewalks remained relatively desolate.
No lines of tourists waiting to ascend the Empire State Building nor the usual crowds hanging out on the steps of the New York Public Library, though a few people were opting to brave the city bus system.
And then there’s Times Square. While pockets of people were still gleefully taking selfies and stretching their necks upward to gawk at the massive digital displays, it’s difficult to describe just how abandoned the whole place felt. I’ve never seen so much empty pavement in a place where the crowds are typically comparable to Disney World.
As for Broadway, it had indeed gone dark.