On Sunday, March 22nd 2020 at 8 PM our city was ordered to stop and New York City officially went on PAUSE. Six-months ago (to the day), Governor Cuomo enacted New York State on PAUSE, a 10-point policy to unite all New Yorkers to help “flatten the curve” in the early stages of the Coronavirus crisis — when our city quickly became the early epicenter in the United States.

PAUSE ordered all non-essential businesses statewide to be closed to assure uniform safety for everyone. We’re sure many of you remember most of the details of the order, but at that time we were all required to adhere to new rules which included the cancellation of non-essential gatherings, social distancing, limiting public transportation usage, using (and hoarding sanitizer), closing of non-essential businesses, and more. New York City’s streets and public spaces emptied to a point that shocked the world. Even the always-crowded Brooklyn Bridge was deserted. Yet some New Yorkers chose to keep going, like the Naked Cowboy in Times Square. New arrivals to the city included a military ship, the USNS Comfort, a field hospital in Central Park, and a cargo plane of supplies direct from  the Russian government.

And as the pandemic changed our world forever with reduction in service as significant as 90% for MTA subways and busses, no single industry has been more deeply impacted than our airline and travel industries. March saw a decline of nearly 2 million domestic travelers passing through TSA checkpoints, with a reduction of approximately 2.5 million (2019) to approximately 450,000 in 2020.  These figures became more dire in April and May when approximately 100,000 daily travelers passed through TSA checkpoints, compared to 2.2 million in 2019.  June, July, and August saw a slight increase in domestic air travelers up to approximately 500,000 daily travelers — but down from 2.5 million the year before.

 

Empty World Trade Center Oculus

Aaron Asis, Untapped New York’s Artist in Residence who captured the city in the early days of the pandemic said today, “To be honest…I couldn’t believe my eyes or my ears. It was painful, weird, sobering, and heartwarming to see New Yorkers abandon the streets by the millions.  And here we are, six months later, and it’s still so hard to put any of this into words — but when we look back at these images of where we were, it truly feels like an eternity has passed…”

Empty Times Square streets

For the summer of 2020, it was all about the phased reopening of New York City and State while the pandemic raged in the rest of the country. Now as we settle into fall, uncertainty remains although life in New York continues. The question “Is New York City dead” rages amongst the media looking for clicks. (For the record, it’s not dead). The streets, particularly in heavily residential neighborhoods with open restaurant streets are more alive than ever. Commercial and and office traffic in Manhattan has been slow to return, however, and the city’s restaurant and travel industry has suffered.

But six months on, New Yorkers are soldering on and we’ve seen them return to our in-person tours with a ton of excitement. Untapped New York restarted its tours, with significant health and safety measures in August with Phase 4’s reopening. This week, we’ll be hosting a Hidden Gems of the Financial District Tour, Secrets of Grand Central Tour, Edge Observation Deck and Hudson Yards tour, the Hidden Gems of Governors Island, Victorian Flatbush Tour.