How has COVID-19 changed NYC’s scene?



As a New York metropolitan, I can certainly say that the movement and excitement that New York accounted for is partly gone, as clubs and unique locations have mostly closed down. But even though the new, modern idea that New York was known for isn’t here anymore, a lot of different aspects, “vintage” aspects of the city are being brought back, which is not only fascinating but also exciting and hair-rising to experience. 


New York City: one of the most vibrant cities in the world, the cultural and financial capital of the United States, was completely and utterly stopped by a disease we all have heard of and know: COVID-19. Since the beginning of the pandemic, there have been a total of 893,000 COVID-19 cases and 32,000 COVID-19 related deaths in NYC. For the rest of the world’s cities, the fear and issues brought up by this pandemic was an incredibly difficult challenge, as they all had to adapt to a new reality, but for New York, this was immobilizing. A city that was globally known for its upbeat and excitement suddenly had to hit the brakes and unexpectedly stop all of the things it had going. The way the city adapted to change can be seen in multiple different scenarios: shops closing, street life diminishing, “for rent” signs throughout the city, broadway shows closing, and much more.  


“The COVID-19 pandemic has left many New Yorkers feeling anxious and stressed.”, says the Office of Mental Health of NYC.

“[…]Smokers who were interested in quitting might have faced other barriers. Non-emergency doctors appointments were canceled during shutdowns and widespread job losses mean many lost access to the employer-provided health insurance plans that typically cover counseling and smoking-cessation medications, said Anne DiGiulio, national director of lung health policy at the American Lung Association.” 



According to The Wall Street Journal, restaurant visits went down by 55% and bar visits went down by 67%. “Bars and restaurants were limited to take-out and delivery, outdoor dining and reduced indoor capacity over the past year.”.

Outdoor dining has become quite popular in the city, as it allows all of us to enjoy a meal while still being safe. 


“Wear a face covering when you are in public and cannot stay 6 feet apart from others.”, says the Novel of Covid section of the New York State website.

According to the New York City Health “COVID-19: General Guidance for Cleaning and Disinfection for Non-Health Care Settings” document, “New York State (NYS) requires regular cleaning and disinfection at least every day, and more frequent cleaning and disinfection of high-risk areas used by many individuals, such as shared objects, frequently touched surfaces and high transit areas (for example, restrooms and common areas). Businesses are also required to maintain cleaning logs on site that document the date, time and scope of cleaning and disinfection. See the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s sample log to help you meet NYS requirements.”.


The COVID-19 vaccine has recently become available for all that are above the age of 16 in the city. Many establishments have encouraged people to get the vaccine as soon as possible!


As the pandemic became more severe, shows and movie theaters were completely closed down. Fortunately, they have started to open again in the past week or so, as Andrew Cuomo (the NY governor) has lifted restrictions.



According to The Wall Street Journal, subway ridership also went down by 70%, as weekday subway ridership is currently at 1.6 million, compared to the pre-pandemic 5.3. “Empty subway cars have severely damaged public transit budgets […].”

“NYC Was Set to Reduce Plastic Use; The Pandemic Put a Fork in That. … One study found that increases in demand for face masks, medical gloves, and goggles in China during the peak of the pandemic produced approximately 240 tons of medical waste daily, about six times more than before the outbreak.”


Even though COVID-19 has brought back many positive aspects of the city, there are still some factors that are not talked about enough. Many inequalities have been highlighted in the past few months, such as income inequality. A study by The New York Times shows how the coronavirus outbreak has been worse in areas with lower income, meaning neighborhoods with “low-income residents, suffered the highest death rates. In August, the city released the results of 1.5 million antibody tests, which showed that in one ZIP code in Queens, more than 50 percent of people who had gotten tested were found to have antibodies, a strikingly high rate.”. The graph below shows the correlation between the covid case concentration and the median income along with the household size.


“New York City Coronavirus Map and Case Count” – The New York Times

I believe that in order to create a more inclusive and equal community we should all first learn more about the issues and inequalities in our communities, resources such as The New York Times and The Washington Post have incredible data that really shines a light on the issues at hand. Next, I believe that we should all individually raise awareness, whether this is by sharing fact-checked information on social media or talking about this to your friends and family. You could also participate in fundraisers, whether that is by donating yourself or sharing them with your own community.  As a community, we can all communicate with each other to learn more about New Yorkers’ experiences with inequality. If you are a New York citizen, you may always attend protests and/or community/school clubs that raise awareness (while always being careful). 


  • How has your community been affected by COVID-19? Are any of the changes you’ve noticed in your own community similar to the ones I have in the city?
  • Do you think touristic cities such as NYC will go back to the pre-covid normal one day?

Feel free to discuss in the comments!



  1. Hi Julia!
    I love the layout of your page and the balance between visuals and information. It has such a nice flow. I think you brought up many great points, and it is definitely a good question to ask whether big cities like NYC will go back to how they were pre-covid. I think that covid will definitely have a long-lasting effect on how people live, and can definitely see many practices staying with us even as covid gets better. Like mask-wearing, and avoiding big groups especially in times like flu season.

    1. Hey Stella!
      I completely agree with what you said about the comeback to pre-covid normalcy. I really do believe that in times such as flu season there will be much more precautions taken not only as a consequence to covid itself but also as a consequence to the social impact that covid has had in our societies. Thank you for your feedback!

  2. Julia, I thought it was really interesting how your project orbited not only around the general effects of the pandemic but specifically how the pandemic affected art. It’s a great way to incorporate what you learnt throughout your GOA photography course and a modern issue that has completely transfigured our lives into something we could have never foreseen. Your photographs look extremely professional and really capture the essence of the message you are trying to portray through them. Great work!

    1. Hello Lulwah!
      Thank you so much for your great feedback. The impact of covid-19 on art is something that is definitely not talked about enough. I believe that covid has been the main catalyst for the reformation of “modern art” in the city, as it has led to a gigantic increase in street art and poster/sticker design. All museums in the city were closed for a really long time (and some still are closed), this led to people manifesting their love for art in other public spaces, such as parks and crosswalks! I’m glad you took an interest in this!

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