BEAUTY IN THE TIME OF CORONAVIRUS

What New York City Looks Like During a Pandemic


Samantha Bloom.

Nearly sixty years ago, the activist and urban theorist Jane Jacobs looked out her window and changed the way we think about cities. She described the street life of her West Village neighborhood as an intricate “sidewalk ballet,” with residents, businesses, visitors, and strangers locked in a constant dance around each other. When neighborhoods thrive, she argued, we are the company and the audience—we watch and we are watched. And as New Yorkers, we revel in density, and share our spaces and our experiences.

The very density that electrifies New York is deadly in a pandemic. The streets have mostly been empty for a month, and the city feels drained of its energy. The essential workers, the grocery shoppers, the New Yorkers getting a breath of fresh air and smiling through their masks, are like afterimages of a familiar city. We’re improvising new steps, but the dance continues.

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March 15 | Broadway and W. 4th St.
Photographed by Samantha Bloom

The liminal weekend before social distancing measures came into effect. NYU closed its physical campus and moved to distance learning the following week.

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March 27 | Mott St. and E. Broadway
Photographed by Samantha Bloom
3
March 27 | Prince Street
Photographed by Samantha Bloom

Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor global virus will stay New Yorkers from forming a line outside of Prince Street Pizza. FaceTiming while a friend picks up a slice.

4
March 27 | Coleman Skatepark
Photographed by Samantha Bloom

The empty streets have been a dream for skateboarders – for weeks, the city’s soundtrack has been sirens, birdsongs, and skateboard wheels. Below, Tyrone Williams, BMX-rider and owner of Dah Shop on the Lower East Side. NYC Skateparks have since been closed.

5
April 1 | Baxter Street
Photographed by Samantha Bloom

Woman (and pigeon) walk past the NYC Courthouses.

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March 31 | Mulberry St.
Photographed by Samantha Bloom
7
March 27 | Chatham Square
Photographed by Samantha Bloom
8
March 27 | Eldridge and Delancey Sts.
Photographed by Samantha Bloom

This guy had to shut down his family-owned recording studio on the Lower East Side. I can’t remember the name because I declined to take his card (owing to the six-foot rule).

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March 15 | Bleecker St.
Photographed by Samantha Bloom

Though the City Council has yet to limit street food vendors, many have ceased operations due to low demand. This halal cart on Bleecker was gone in the days after this photo was taken.

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March 15 | LaGuardia Place
Photographed by Samantha Bloom
11
March 27 | Carrying supplies down E. Broadway
Photographed by Samantha Bloom
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Photographed by Samantha Bloom

Clockwise from left:

March 22—Socially distanced weekly call with Avi and Jeremiah.

April 1—10:30 a.m. A deliveryman takes a break to eat a burger.

April 2—Man holding a pink bakery box walks down Bond Street. Perspective has zoomed out as the weeks wear on and the virus reached its peak in the city.

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March 27 | Allen and Delancey Sts.
Photographed by Samantha Bloom
14
April 1 | Outside Brooklyn Bridge-City Hall Station
Photographed by Samantha Bloom

8:30 a.m.: The new rush hour; this is the sole commuter who emerged from the station after I stood outside of it for 30 minutes.

15
April 2 | Lafayette St.
Photographed by Samantha Bloom

The Sant Ambroeus Soho crew play a socially distanced pick-up game of soccer in the middle of a desolate Lafayette St.

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April 2 | Mulberry Market
Photographed by Samantha Bloom

Grocery clerks and delivery workers on the front line of the crisis.

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April 1 | Unloading boxes on Hester St.
Photographed by Samantha Bloom
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March 24 | Mulberry and Spring Sts.
Photographed by Samantha Bloom
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March 27 | Market and Madison St.
Photographed by Samantha Bloom