Is NYC Truly a "Ghost Town?"

December 7, 2020
Abigail Lev

Plainview, New York, United States

Class of 2022

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During the first debate of the 2020 Presidential Election, the 45th President of the United States, Donald Trump, confidently claimed that New York City is a ghost town due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Take a look at New York and what's happened to my wonderful city for so many years. I loved it, it was vibrant. It's dying, everyone's leaving New York." —President Trump

I, for one, don’t agree with that statement. My family and I took the liberty of spending a day in New York City, after a seven-month hiatus. We started in Greenwich Village and ended in the Upper East Side, meaning I was given the opportunity to survey quite a bit of the island.

Around 2:00 PM, I went to Chelsea Market with the hopes of purchasing lunch. The inside area was not open for business, but almost all bodegas were available streetside. I got what was quite possibly the best brussel sprouts in the world (which is not important to my point but needed to be shared), and to be honest, it felt like a normal situation in a pre-COVID world, with the exception, of course, of the mask-wearing. Customers were lining up for vendors, tables were set up six feet apart for people to eat on the sidewalk, and overall everything seemed successful. Maybe NYC isn’t as populous as before, but at least in this situation, it definitely didn’t fit the title of “ghost town.”

My family continued on our adventures by walking the High Line. In a situation where it is tough to be inside, the High Line seemed like the place to be. It was limited to walking in one direction only but didn’t have that “school hallway” feel. Populated with couples, families, and everyone in between, the 1.5-mile stretch was definitely a liberating walk from the city streets. Of course, it ends at Hudson Yards, home of the Vessel, which is definitely a spot to check out. In the end, this segment of my day also felt somewhat “normal,” even if there were some Covid restrictions.

The next spot on my list was Central Park. As someone who lives relatively close to NYC and also happens to love visiting, in typical times, I am lucky enough to go to the city around once or twice a month during the school year. For this visit, my family was going all out on the tourist spots. Honestly, Central Park was gorgeous that day and not-so-densely populated. There were definitely people there, but I think I expected more for a day with such good weather.  Still, I don’t believe it was empty enough to qualify as a ghost town.

My family walked around a bit more and then met up with some friends for an outdoor dinner. Almost all of the tables were full, and there was a gelato place around the corner with a line stretching almost the entire block. Needless to say, these NYC businesses seemed to be in full fledge. Gone were the thoughts that filled my head with empty streets, subway cars, and tourist attractions. Instead, this new image, one that I was able to see in person, replaced them.

There is no doubt in my mind that the pandemic took a hard toll on cities around the world. In NYC specifically, the theater industry was shut down, a large percentage of inhabitants migrated to other places for a bit, the number of visitors decreased, some shops were boarded up, and that is only the basics. I was not able to visit every inch of Manhattan or scour over every possible area, but from what I saw, that claim made during the presidential debate might not be completely accurate.

Abs Lev is a BBG from Nassau Suffolk Region and loves to see Broadway shows.

All views expressed on content written for The Shofar represent the opinions and thoughts of the individual authors. The author biography represents the author at the time in which they were in BBYO.

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