Special Report

Shutdown: The Coronavirus

New York City, a place of refuge 

A woman looks out at the Statue of Liberty at sunset in Battery Park, November 2020. Photo by Edith Rousselot

Since March, the general atmosphere in New York has been unprecedented. The city, now emptied of its constant flow of tourists, offered a new atmosphere that I was excited to explore with a camera. I felt like New Yorkers were on hold, eager to take the most out of an empty city but excited for the new chapter to come. 

I started this photo series with the idea of capturing New York as a real place of autonomy and anonymity, a place of refuge. In the midst of a never-ending pandemic that took a toll on New Yorkers, I sought moments of solitude in the city. From a middle-aged man taking time to do nothing but sit on a bench and think, to elderly people enjoying the sunset on a weird Thanksgiving night, I tried to capture moments of reconnection with oneself. This extraordinary year made me realize that I was craving nothing but ordinary, simple moments. When walking the dog or taking a cigarette break out of the apartment becomes the only reason to step out of home, I felt like it was worth capturing.

More than half of the people I photographed ventured out without their mask, which made me realize that the Covid-19 fatigue is real and settled. It made me sad and concerned for the most vulnerable of us. But when this elderly lady who quickly took her mask out of her pocket to wear it as she noticed that I was photographing her told me, “I can’t wait to throw this mask out forever,” I couldn’t help but smile and agree with her.  

Thanksgiving night. Battery Park City, November 2020. Photo by Edith Rousselot

Miss New York, Staten Island Ferry. Battery Park City, November 2020. Photo by Edith Rousselot

A woman reading her kindle with the New Yorker on her lap at Washington Square Park. November 2020. Photo by Edith Rousselot

Sunset on Thanksgiving night. Battery Park, November 2020. Photo by Edith Rousselot

A woman sunbathing in Battery Park. November 2020. Photo by Edith Rousselot

A man crossing Battery Place. November 2020. Photo by Edith Rousselot

A woman taking a cigarette break. November 2020. Photo by Edith Rousselot

A man walking his dog, Battery Park. November 2020. Photo by Edith Rousselot

A moment alone. Washington Square Park, November 2020. Photo by Edith Rousselot

Battery Park looking west at the Colgate clock in Jersey City. November 2020. Photo by Edith Rousselot




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