New York in the time of corona

Not long after 9/11, I went to Manhattan to do a story on the Chrysler Building. There was a burning smell in the air and something else — the smell of fear, hurt, dread. But New Yorkers being New Yorkers, they did then what they have always done: They went about their business.

There was something of that same unease in the air when I visited last Friday. Now as then, the city seemed quieter, less bustling. There was that same sense of uncertainty among waiters and clerks. And yet people remain grimly determined to carry on. Perhaps more than anywhere else, in New York you are what you do.

The coronavirus is making it hard for people to be what they do as conferences and events are cancelled or postponed until summer. The virus is helping to drive down the stock market. And perhaps more than any other city, New York lives and dies by the market.

And yet, the Big Apple soldiers on — choreographing foot traffic to create space among people; offering PSAs on the transit system regarding hand washing; sanitizing subway cars and other public places, “an upside to disease,” as one bit of New York wit noted.

The city of reinvention is once more reinventing itself.

Georgette Gouveia

 

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