Oh New York, the only city where you can walk outside your apartment at 1am and still see and hear people bustling about as if it was 12pm in the afternoon. Or so it used to be.
Cities around the world have changed tremendously due to the pandemic. Once crowded and noisy, now quiet and eerily empty. NYC is certainly no exception.
We’ve all seen the photos of what Time’s Square looked like back in March when quarantine was first announced. Almost an entire year later NYC feels a lot more normal than it did in the early days of the pandemic but many things are still quite different.
Here are some of the major differences I’ve noticed over the past few months. Some of them are pleasant changes for sure, but some of them make me feel a little uneasy.
Times Sq is quiet.
Times Square used to be a place where you couldn't even walk down the street without accidentally rubbing up against someone. It was that crowded. Now? Plenty of empty space, the occasional person in costume, and lots of pigeons.
There’s always a seat available when you're on the subway.
Riding the subway pre pandemic was a lot like walking into a bathroom with 12 other people inside and trying to find a place to stand where your face isn’t up against someone’s armpit. Now? Plenty of space for everyone and the best part: you are almost always guaranteed a spot to sit. There is nothing worse than boarding the train after a long day of working and running around and being forced to stand for another 20 mins. This one is definitely a huge positive.
There are entire city blocks dedicated to outdoor dining.
One of the coolest changes I’ve seen to the city post pandemic is what’s happened to neighborhoods like Koreatown and the East Village. Entire city blocks shut off to traffic with vibrant restaurants offering outdoor seating. This is one change we should definitely keep long after the pandemic has subsided.
There’s no more traffic.
If you’ve ever had to drive through NYC during rush hour or any time of the day actually, you know this is HUGE. Gridlock traffic is very real here. Meaning that sometimes you can be stuck in one spot without moving for hours… This is another huge game changer if you live in the outer-boroughs where it used to take hours to get into manhattan for work in the morning.
Rent is so much cheaper.
We all know rent in the city of New York is astronomical compared to other cities in the US. But the pandemic has definitely brought these prices a little bit more down to Earth. Some luxury apartment complexes are even offering 3 months rent free to attract people to move in. Rent for apartments in some of the most coveted neighborhoods like Greenwich Village and SoHo have been cut in half. This is definitely a positive change. But a stark reminder of how empty the city has become.
It’s weirdly boring.
Being a NYC resident, there’s always something to do. A party to go to, a restaurant to try, and a bar to head to with your friends any night of the week. With the recent ban of indoor dining NYC nightlife has practically completely disappeared. If you were a person who loved to go out at night and experience everything the city has to offer this is definitely one of the worst changes.
There are a lot of abandoned storefronts.
NYC is a city jam packed with stores and restaurants. Neighborhoods like SoHo and even Midtown Manhattan are prime shopping hubs. Neighborhoods like the Lower East Side are known for their busy clubs and bars. Walking around any of these neighborhoods now feels somewhat weird. One of the most obvious reminders that NYC has changed a great deal. What were once incredibly busy, crowded streets bustling with shoppers and tourists are now calm and quiet. It’s hard to walk down the street and not feel a pang of nostalgia for what the city once was.
Absolutely everyone wears a mask.
Unlike some other parts of the country where there is no mask mandate, New Yorkers take mask wearing very seriously. Most people wear them even while just walking around outside.
Bottom line, NYC is not the same city it was just a year ago. So many less people, so many closed businesses and so much more quiet. It's sad in many ways to think about how much has changed and it’s easy to want the old New York back. The new New York is here however and there’s absolutely no telling when and if things will ever return to how they once were. What we do know is that New York is resilient, and whatever new city she decides to morph into, she’ll soon be reveled in again.