Coronavirus

Abandoned streets

The coronavirus outbreak is keeping people home and cities empty

This is what great cities look like after residents are asked to quarantine at home. Cities celebrate density, diversity, activity and noise, all quelled in recent days because of the covid-19 pandemic. In normal times, cities beckon us to engage, to crowd, to be part of the thrum.

What is a metropolis without people? Photographs provide some understanding. Seattle’s Public Market absent a public. Mass transportation without masses. Miami Beach pristine, its dazzling sand stripped of sunbathers. Empty tour buses, abandoned train stations and, once thought unimaginable, Los Angeles devoid of congestion. It’s as though war had hit without the physical wreckage. These elegiac images, and the accompanying stories and videos, show us what silence looks like.

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New York

(Jeenah Moon/Reuters)

Broadway remains lit but shuttered. Grand Central Terminal, a cathedral of rail transport, is largely unused, as well as major thoroughfares, traversed by more pedestrians and bikes than cars. But nothing, not even a pandemic, can drive a Times Square Cookie Monster and Iron Man indoors.

Shutting down the city that never sleeps: New York City’s week as a new epicenter of coronavirus

(Jeenah Moon/Reuters)
(Jeenah Moon for The Washington Post)
(Jeenah Moon for The Washington Post)
(Jeenah Moon for The Washington Post)

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Philadelphia

(Michelle Gustafson/For The Washington Post)

The typically sought-after bistro tables and chairs bordering Rittenhouse Square, the city’s verdant jewel, go untouched while the vaunted Curtis Institute of Music is quieted, absent of students. The Theatre of Living Arts on South Street sends a message in pure Philly-speak. The restored Met on North Broad is lit but closed, like a giant mausoleum.

The heartbreaking silence of a city at night, when nothing is open

(Michelle Gustafson for The Washington Post)
(Michelle Gustafson for The Washington Post)
(Michelle Gustafson for The Washington Post)
(Michelle Gustafson for The Washington Post)

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Washington, D.C.

Lush cherry blossoms go without the seasonal stampede of awe-smacked gawkers. Despite daily briefings and constant government negotiations, Pennsylvania Avenue resembles a massive gulch. Taxis idle outside Union Station, while the National Statuary Hall is swept clean, making the Capitol safe for still-at-work congressional staffers.

A visual tour of the new normal: A look at the Washington region responding to the coronavirus outbreak through the lens of Post photographers

(Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post)
(Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post)
(Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post)
(Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post)
(Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post)

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Miami Beach

A full break from spring break: Revelers finally left the celebrated beaches, abandoning prime chaise real estate. Streets, running tracks and the News Cafe stools remain vacant during what would have been a busy season for this sun-soaked city.

(Getty Images)
(Lynne Sladky/AP)
(Carlos Barria/Reuters)
(Getty Images)

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Los Angeles

A coruscating city on the move ceases moving. Tourist buses, garages and malls appear dead. Cars, which ordinarily choke the metropolis, remain parked at home.

(Etienne Laurent/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock)
(Getty Images)
(Jenna Schoenefeld for The Washington Post)
(Jenna Schoenefeld for The Washington Post)
(Eugene Garcia/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock)

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San Francisco

In one of the nation’s most beautiful cities, the parks are empty, and the myriad magnificent hills are abandoned. The Golden Gate Bridge goes largely untraveled. A Pilates class goes virtual, streaming from a Marina District apartment.

Inside California’s great lockdown, glimpse America’s stay-at-home future

(Melina Mara/The Washington Post)
(Melina Mara/The Washington Post)
(Melina Mara/The Washington Post)
(Melina Mara/The Washington Post)
(Melina Mara/The Washington Post)

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Seattle

(Brian Snyder/Reuters)

The city’s public market is a gustatory specter. With most businesses closed, Smith Cove cruise terminal is cleared of ships while the convention center fountain bubbles to the delight of zero conventioneers. What passes for nightlife: The band Cytrus streams a concert from the empty Nectar Lounge.

(Lindsey Wasson/Reuters)
(Getty Images)
(Jason Redmond/Reuters)
(Jason Redmond/Reuters)

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Other cities around the world

(Gianmarco Maraviglia/FTWP)

The world has been silenced and slowed by the massive, equal-opportunity pandemic. In Seoul, a shuttered restaurant wallows in an ordinarily bustling market. A lone woman sits on a bench in a historic Milan park. Banners and lanterns hang above an abandoned street in the Chinatown area of Yokohama, Japan.

Empty streets and disrupted lives: A world in the wake of coronavirus

(Shiho Fukada for The Washington Post)
(Jean Chung for The Washington Post)

Karen Heller

Karen Heller is national general features writer for Style. She joined The Washington Post in 2014, and reports on a wide array of subjects, including popular culture, politics, cultural differences and profiles. She was previously a metro columnist for the Philadelphia Inquirer, where she reported on popular culture, politics and social issues.

Chloe Coleman

Chloe Coleman is a photo editor at The Washington Post working in Outlook and Foreign news focusing on The Americas, Europe and Russia. She is regular contributor to the In Sight blog. She joined the Post in 2014.

Michael Johnson

Michael Johnson specializes in print and digital visual storytelling, particularly for long-form articles, produced by the magazine.

Joanne Lee

A designer and art director, Joanne Lee is currently working with an interdisciplinary team to explore visual storytelling for the web.

Matthew Callahan

Matt Callahan is a design editor at The Washington Post. Previously he has worked at the Tampa Bay Times.

Nick Kirkpatrick

Nick Kirkpatrick is a photo editor at The Washington Post where he collaborates across the newsroom on special projects and stories, including with the paper's award-winning Investigative unit. Follow him on Instagram or on Twitter.

Jesse Mesner-Hage

Jesse Mesner-Hage is the commissioning editor for video at The Washington Post, where he manages a global network of freelance videographers. He previously worked as an assignment editor for Al Jazeera English in Washington, D.C., and Doha.

Credits

Design and development by Michael Johnson, Matthew Callahan and Joanne Lee; Photo editing by Chloe Coleman and Nick Kirkpatrick; Video editing by Jesse Mesner-Hage; Videos by Ashleigh Joplin, Joyce Koh, James Pace-Cornsilk, Ray Whitehouse, Nicholas Weissman, David Byars, Alfredo De Lara and Rob Ray; Editing by Zachary Pincus-Roth

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