These videos show the empty streets of NYC during coronavirus shutdown

April 13, 2020

Photo of Grand Central on Saturday, April 4 © James and Karla Murray

Photographers James and Karla Murray have made their mark with their famous “Store Front” books, where they photograph mom-and-pop shops and restaurants around New York City and interview their owners. But these businesses, those which are very often the heart and soul of a neighborhood, are being hit especially hard by the current crisis. James and Karla, who are also husband and wife, have been continuing to highlight places offering delivery and takeout and those providing food to healthcare workers. They’ve also been filming the walks they’re taking with their dog Hudson that show just how empty the city has become. Ahead, take tours of a deserted Times Square, Grand Central, Greenwich Village, and the East Village on a typically busy Saturday night.

Photo of Times Square on Saturday, April 4 © James and Karla Murray

James and Karla love to walk; oftentimes they’ll choose an hour-long walk over a 10-minute subway ride so that they can explore a new neighborhood and take photos along the way. But they say that cannot remember a time in their 25 years capturing New York when “the City was so empty of both traffic and people and also when the City felt so forlorn.” They tell us: “Even right after September 11th, when we could not even cross from one side of 14th Street to the other side (as that was the original dividing line for traffic; initially no traffic of any kind was allowed below 14th Street) was the city even close to being this empty. Also right after September 11th, even though the general mood was very sad, there was still a sense of togetherness as people were gathering in Union Square looking to find loved ones.”

When asked what’s struck them the most recently, James and Karla told us: “Seeing our own neighborhood of the East Village so empty, quiet and deserted, especially on a usually very busy and noisy Saturday night, was especially disconcerting to us. We have been East Village residents since the late 1980s and it has NEVER looked or felt this way.”

But like the rest of us, James and Karla are already thinking about what they’ll do when things go back to normal. “We love to explore different neighborhoods especially in the outer boroughs to find ethnic food spots and speak with the owners of these ‘mom-and-pop’ shops and are excited to discover more of these hidden gems.”

You can watch all of their videos right here:

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