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Scenes from an empty New York City

(No. 1) Those with means fled; those who remained could experience untold riches

After I got over my acute bout of covid, in March, 2020, I began wandering Manhattan on foot, bike and electric scooter. At the time there were tons of ride-share scooters for rent with an app, and driving up the avenues with hardly any cars or trucks on the road was such a rare pleasure. Often, I’d head out on a scooter at sunset just to feel the colors and set my mood right for the darkness, which was silent save for the occasional BLM demonstration on 8th Avenue, or the sound of shattered glass, or the shouting of a disturbed person. The wealthy neighborhoods, such as the grand apartment buildings of Central Park West, were dark, vacant, their residents out in the Hamptons or elsewhere for the duration. It was startling to see how those with means immediately abandoned the city. And how the street people remained, suddenly kings and queens of the sidewalks. Artists put up work on walls and street lights. Neighbors sat on sidewalk folding chairs in the sun. The companies that sold high end food to expensive restaurants suddenly had no commercial customers, so they turned instead to delivering their rare goods to regular consumers. Puntarelle and amazing scallops were readily available to the hoi polloi, at reasonable prices. Manhattan felt safe, yet unpredictable. I was blessed to be able to experience these moments of beauty and desolation.

Everlands, by Stephen's People
Everlands, by Stephen's People
Surprising stories, videos and photographs from a 35,000 mile journey into the heart of the American pandemic, beginning in June 2020.
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Stephen P. Williams