It is Sunday, March 22, in one of the biggest cities in the world, through what used to be some of its most crowded neighborhoods, along some of the busiest streets.
Areas that were once bustling with racing taxis and bubbly tourists now sit in complete silence. I saw closed stores that would, no less than a month ago, be open until the late hours of the night, always filled with the buzz of a New Yorker ready to jump to the next adventure. Empty subway cars move in solitude under the streets.
I took a ride from the Lower East Side all the way up to Central Park and back on March 22nd. On the following day, I biked again through the West Village. On this day I realized how different this city looks without its people. My journey is surreal. There’s a strange sort of gratitude that comes with seeing other people shuttering bar windows with plywood sheets.
Everyone wears masks, people walk far away from others, the streets are silent, there are no ambulances and no honking.
The thing that surprised me most of all was how silent the city is.
It’s almost a miracle to hear only birds singing in Manhattan on a sunny afternoon. New York City is quiet for the first time in my memory. COVID-19 has placed the city in a forced standstill, placing uncertainty on when it will return to what it was.