Special Report

Shutdown: The Coronavirus

East Village life slows to a crawl

At the corner of Tompkins Square Park residents created a memorial for lives lost to COVID-19. March 31, 2020. Photo by Thomas Hengge

As the COVID-19 outbreak spreads through the five boroughs and restrictions were placed on the city to combat the pandemic, life in Manhattan’s East Village slowed to a crawl.

With the East Village being a hotbed for hip bars, restaurants, cafes, and shopping, on any given day, the streets are normally packed with people. The neighborhood is also a popular hangout spot for NYU students, giving it an even higher volume of foot-traffic than most places in the surrounding area. But now that schools have shut down for the semester, nonessential businesses have closed their doors and social distancing orders are in effect, the streets have emptied, making the neighborhood almost unrecognizable.

Local businesses such as bars, tattoo studios, hair salons and barbershops that once thrived now have their gates down indefinitely, leaving signs in their windows, letting customers know they will reopen as soon as possible.

This is the East Village during the COVID-19 pandemic.

A man passes shutdown businesses mid-day, March 31, 2020. Photo by Thomas Hengge

A salon hangs signs and an image of COVID-19 in the window for people passing by. March 27, 2020. Photo by Thomas Hengge

A person passes by East Village City Cinema, which has been shut down since Mayor Bill de Blasio ordered to close all nightclubs, theaters, and music venues on March 17. March 28, 2020. Photo by Thomas Hengge

People stand in front of Westside Market, March 28, 2020. Photo by Thomas Hengge

A man waits for his laundry, March 28, 2020. Photo by Thomas Hengge

A restaurant on St. Marks Place with a sign that reads, “We are closed due to the pandemic.” March 28, 2020. Photo by Thomas Hengge

People pass a man sleeping on the sidewalk in front of Miss Lily’s on Avenue A. March 28, 2020. Photo by Thomas Hengge

A man wearing a mask and gloves walks down a near-empty 2nd Avenue, March 28, 2020.

A masked elderly worker at Ray’s Candy Store prepares an ice cream cone for a customer, March 28, 2020. Photo by Thomas Hengge

A newsstand in the East Village offers New Yorker free snacks and drinks with a sign that reads, “To Customer: Here, Today!!! All Free!!! Cheer Up!!!” March 31, 2020. Photo by Thomas Hengge




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