New York City, NY

Things I Miss the Most About Pre-Pandemic NYC Life

J Free

Photo by Aleks Marinkovic on Unsplash

One thing the pandemic has taught us is that we often take things for granted. Moments that once made us roll our eyes and shake our heads with frustration, now seem like an appealing tradeoff for being isolated and anxious about our own health and the health of our loved ones.

Life in New York City can be hectic, beautiful, exhilarating and exhausting at the same time. But almost a full year into the pandemic, NYC life is nothing like it used to be. While cooped up in a small apartment, sometimes it's easy to forget you're even still in town.

From the good to the annoying, here are the top moments l've been missing about regular New York City life during the pandemic:

The Fast Pace of Everyday Life

Photo by Yoav Aziz on Unsplash

The city's hustle and bustle is one of the aspects that draws people from all over in. The energy, the ambition, the constant action filling each day. Day-to-day life has done a 180 in that respect since the start of the pandemic.

Overcrowded Subway Rides

Photo by Antonio DiCaterina on Unsplash

With the hustle and bustle come uncomfortable, stuffy and overcrowded subway rides, often leaving zero personal space as you're shoulder to shoulder with strangers. Can you even imagine that anymore? Is it possible to douse your entire body in sanatizer?

Brief Interactions With Strangers

Photo by Vinicius "amnx" Amano on Unsplash

Whether it's the grumpy exchanges with tired morning commuters or a brief, friendly encounter with a stranger at a coffee shop. Social interaction was so underrated until it was banned from our lives completely.

Seeing "Wildlife" in the City

Photo by Alexis Antoine on Unsplash

The squirrels hopping around in Central Park (while refusing to take the bait when you try to feed one), the horses pulling lovey-dovey tourists in a carriage, the rats dragging an old slice of pizza down the subway stairs... And most importantly, the dogs being walked at every corner, which now must be ignored in the spirit of social distancing. The restraint is challenging.

Overpriced Brunches

Photo by Alejandra Cifre González on Unsplash

What was it again, every millennial's favorite brunch item? $15 avocado toast? With a skim, frothy, vanilla-infused oat milk latte? Boozy Saturday brunches feel like a lifetime ago.

Rooftop Cocktails

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

As do rooftop cocktails. I now regret the times I declined after-work plans to spend the evening watching Netflix.

After-Work Drinks and Happy Hour in General

Photo by Drew Beamer on Unsplash

The times when "after work" meant something other than moving from the living room table onto the couch. And "happy hour" didn't consist of experimental "quarantinis" at home.

Feeding off of the Contagious Energy and Determination of Other New Yorkers

Photo by Yoav Aziz on Unsplash

My own energy and determination has gone down now that I can't feed off of early-morning joggers and women in six-inch heels with smiles on their faces. I can't wait for the day that New Yorkers return to the streets at full throttle, livelier than ever after a dark period of time.

Bumping Into Familiar Faces and Realizing How Small the City Really Is

Photo by Drew Beamer on Unsplash

People love the big city for its anonymity, leaving forced supermarket aisle conversations with high school acquaintances behind in their homes towns. Still, I've lost count of the times I'd randomly bump into people in the most coincidental ways and places. I thought the city was big—what are the odds?

Street Food, Actually Eaten on the Street

Photo by Sandy Ching on Unsplash

Taco trucks. Halal food. Hot dogs. Bagels. Pretzels. ICE CREAM. Eaten on the street, on benches, with other people around. Anything but take-out, alone, in bed.


Photo by Jay Clark on Unsplash

With social isolation also comes the lack of people-watching opportunities, perhaps one of the highest forms of entertainment NYC life provides.

A City Full of Life and Color

Photo by Juan Pablo Mascanfroni on Unsplash

Without people-watching, colorful murals, street musicians and performers, life in the city suddenly feels very dull.

Summers in the Park

Photo by Matthew LeJune on Unsplash

A prime people-watching moment: New Yorkers spread out on the grass, enjoying the warm sun and cool breeze, watching happy young families and college-kids playing frisbee. Summers in NYC are grand, especially when gatherings in the park were possible without small circles ensuring a six-feet distance to the next group of people.

Holidays, and All the Activities That Come With Them

Photo by Josh Wilburne on Unsplash

When it's too cold to sit in the park, New York makes the freezing temperatures more bearable with festive activities and beautiful decorations. When that's no longer happening, winters in isolation are downright brutal.


What are the things you miss most about pre-pandemic life in NYC? Hopefully, we'll get all of these opportunities back soon enough!

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