Destination / Postcards

New York amidst isolation: A city put to sleep

new york during the coronavirus pandemic

I ride down the wide avenues and tree-lined streets of Manhattan, dwarfed by the buildings that fill this city. People run quick-footed to the grocery store, before swiftly returning to the safety of their apartments — ensuring to dodge anyone that comes within six foot of them. Masks cover every face I see.

Growing up around the small town of Byron Bay, I'd become well accustomed to a slow-paced way of life, yet I never thought I’d revisit that same pace since relocating to New York. Yet, now the loudest sound that fills the city streets is that of the chirping birds, it feels more like home than ever.

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I take bike rides every day to get my dose of fresh air and a change of scenery from the walls of the East Village apartment I currently call home. I decided not to head back to Australia to ride this time out, but remain here. I still like to think I’ve made the right decision.

On these daily rides, I've started taking my camera with me to capture what I see. The boarded up Soho storefronts, empty 5th Avenue, the eerie scene and soundtrack of Grand Central as the announcements of the next train departing fall upon an empty terminal with no passengers waiting to board. This is the reality of the new New York.

new york during the coronavirus pandemic

Undoubtedly, we'll all look back on this time in almost disbelief that it really happened. Where time felt like it was standing still, yet also in fast forward. So much changing before us, so rapidly. All of us trying to find a way to stitch together our past and our future and retain some sense of normalcy.

new york during the coronavirus pandemic
new york during the coronavirus pandemic

Part of me wants to relish what I know I cannot find in the usually bustling day-in-day-out schedule of our busy lives. To hold on to this feeling. Soaking in the gift of time. Grounded in the knowledge that soon enough the pace of everyday life will pick back up, and we will yearn for this stillness.

new york during the coronavirus pandemic
new york during the coronavirus pandemic

Everyday my thoughts and feelings shift swiftly and dramatically. Calm, worried, joyful, confused, never anything for too long, but always something.


Created for RUSSH by Gabi Mulder.

Gabi Mulder is an Australian photographer and creative living in New York City.