The New New York

This past Saturday I went into NYC for the first time in 5 months. It feels it was 5 years, but time warping is just another side effect of this COVID Era. The last day I was in the city is one I won’t forget – a sense of brewing panic could be felt throughout the streets of New York in mid-March. It came on quickly, but when it finally hit that this was a big deal, it hit hard. In the coming months, there would be a mass exodus out of New York. The city that never sleeps would suddenly seem dormant as we all hunkered down. So as I headed back into our beloved NYC, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Would it still hold the sparkle that it once did? Equipped with a full bottle of Lysol and a roll of paper towels, I was about to find out.

Penn Station was fairly empty for a summer afternoon. Normally there would be scores of people heading to and from the Hamptons, or tourists exploring midtown. But it was as empty as it would be late at night after missing the 1am train (we’ve all been there!) From Penn, I had to take the 3 train down to FiDi…which meant facing the subways. There were actually a few hand sanitizer stations in Penn and around the subway, as well as little vending machines where you could purchase a mask or wipes. On the floor of the subway platform there were signs to dictate where people should stand to be 6 feet apart.

The subway itself wasn’t too crowded, and everyone stayed as spread out as possible. It was a bit funny to see advertisements from March and April still displayed. Almost like time had frozen, or I was visiting some ancient ruins that had been preserved (okay, a little dramatic, but you get the vibe).

I popped into my WeWork building, which has remained open to all members although I’m sure not many have been in. It was interesting to see a glimpse of the future of office life. Much like the subway platform, all you had to do was look down on the ground for instructions. Arrows pointing the direction of one-way traffic through the hallways, spots on the floor of the elevator, and even markers on communal spaces to ensure people are spaced out. There was also an abundance of hand sanitizers and wipes here as well.

Afterwards, I went to eat delicious Thai food in Seaport. It seemed like the restaurants had the whole dining outside situation down to a science by now. With plenty of space between tables and a screen tent to block out the sun, all I had worry about was not inhaling my food too quickly!

I made my way up to Times Square because I was curious just how empty it would be. I ended up getting caught in the middle of Tropical Storm Fay, but still the streets weren’t entirely empty. Again, there weren’t the usual crowds of tourists, but I was surprised to see even a fifth of the people that would’ve usually been there out and about. I won’t lie to you, it was a little uncomfortable to wear a mask when I was walking outside and breaking a sweat, but the peace of mind and respect it provides is well worth it! I was happy that most people were also wearing masks, even if many had their noses sticking out!

With a quick stop at Krispy Kreme I rushed to catch my train back to Long Island. I couldn’t help but feel recharged. Simply being in the city made my aspirations and ambitions feel a bit more tangible, just like it always had. Looking back at the pictures I had taken during the day, I noticed one of my last shots of the Empire State Building after the rain had cleared featured a little baby rainbow. Kind of metaphorical if you ask me. At the end of the day, the New New York is still the New York we all know and love…and its bustling beauty will be back and better than ever before we know it.


Have you either stayed in the city or ventured back into it? What is your experience with the “New New York”? Let us know by commenting below. 

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