In Pictures: See Photographs of an Eerily Empty New York City During Lockdown, Compiled for a New Book

The book captures the surreal emptiness of a once-vibrant city.

Chinatown. Photography ©Charlie Bennet.
Chinatown. Photography ©Charlie Bennet.

On March 20th, 2020, New York’s then-governor Andrew Cuomo issued a “stay-at-home order” requiring residents to confine themselves to their homes in an effort to curb the rapidly spreading Covid-19 virus. At the time, most people had never heard the phrase before, but it soon became part of our collective vocabulary along with “social distancing” and “mask mandate.”

Within hours of Cuomo’s announcement, it seemed like the city that never sleeps was finally going to bed. Streets once clogged with yellow taxis, dog walkers, tourists, and commuters emptied as if by magic; the neon lights of bars and bodegas shut off; and the only real noise came from well-wishing neighbors clanging pots and pans at 7 p.m. to thank essential workers for their service.

The cover of <i>On Pause: Three Months that Changed New York</I> by Charlie Bennet and Helena Gustavsson.

The cover of On Pause: Three Months that Changed New York by Charlie Bennet and Helena Gustavsson.

That surreal moment in time is captured in a new book of photography called On Pause: Three Months That Changed New York by photographer Charlie Bennet and journalist Helena Gustavsson. Bennet’s images are picturesque scenes of iconic New York City streets, parks, and bridges—all eerily empty, as if someone photoshopped all the people out of postcards.

“I felt compelled to create this book as a historical document from a very different time, a memory of something that shouldn’t be forgotten,” Bennet wrote in the introduction. “I want this book to honor everyone who lost someone or were impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

See images from the book below.

<i>5th Avenue</i>. Photography ©Charlie Bennet.

5th Avenue. Photography ©Charlie Bennet.

<i>6 Train</i>. Photography ©Charlie Bennet.

6 Train. Photography ©Charlie Bennet.

<i>10th Avenue</i>. Photography ©Charlie Bennet.

10th Avenue. Photography ©Charlie Bennet.

<i>Bethesda Fountain, Central Park</i>. Photography ©Charlie Bennet.

Bethesda Fountain, Central Park. Photography ©Charlie Bennet.

<i>Grand Central Terminal,</i>. Photography ©Charlie Bennet.

Grand Central Terminal. Photography ©Charlie Bennet.

<i>Bryant Park</i>. Photography ©Charlie Bennet.

Bryant Park. Photography ©Charlie Bennet.

<i>Oculus</i>. Photography ©Charlie Bennet.

Oculus. Photography ©Charlie Bennet.


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