Will New York City Survive the Pandemic?

7:27 am  |  03.05.2021

“New York City must end quarantine now. The Governor and the Mayor are destroying this city!” – A recent Twitter by former United States President Donald Trump. Of course, the main reason to criticize the New York City government is in his usual way. Yet the concerns of the former American leader are shared by traditionally critical New Yorkers. The headlines “New York City Is Over” and “New York City Is Dead” are increasingly in the local press and social media.

What Makes You Feel That Way?

Well, you have to admit, “Big Apple” has changed. Like many mega-cities, at the start of the pandemic, it was completely depopulated, and shops, cafes, bars, theatres, and museums closed. But it’s been six months, and it seems that it’s time to go back to “new mascara normality”.

This is the only thing New York is slow to do: the authorities have closed the city with a noticeable delay and, having experienced a rapid increase in the disease, are afraid to lift the restrictions. In the café, while you can only sit on verandas, the shops are either closed or limited in a number of visitors, the museums have only just started opening, and the famous Broadway musicals have already announced – by the end of the year, definitely not. Even Christopher Nolan’s new film in New York City is now untouched – regular cinemas are still closed and open-air cinemas are not allowed to be screened by rights holders.

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Not only the authorities but also the managers of large companies are insured – most are not yet ready to return employees to their offices. And given that the whole of downtown Manhattan is an office building, it’s not surprising that the city now looks strange. In the mornings, the flow of people with coffee cups does not collide with each other on the sidewalks, and in the evenings, instead of going to the bar office employees in the center, more often meet homeless or lovers of smoking pot.

The deserts of New York are quite natural. First, well-to-do New Yorkers tend to spend summers away from stuffy skyscrapers without a pandemic. A lot of people have holiday homes in the coastal Hamptons or the quiet suburbs. This year, most people had the opportunity not to come to New York working remotely. Summer’s not over – the city’s still hot. So what’s the point of going to the stone jungle?

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Another feature of the American metropolis is that most of its residents are visitors. According to statistics, more than 60% of New Yorkers live in rented accommodation, which means that it is not advantageous for New Yorkers to pay high-rent rent rents when they can temporarily move to their hometowns to live with their families. Nor are they likely to return to the city until work demands it.

The most worrisome signs are increasingly “for sale” and “for rent” on display. According to Yelp, 2,800 shops and restaurants have closed in the city since March. And restaurants continue to lose profits because of the ban on seating visitors inside because the terrace is very limited and the cool weather is just around the corner. The cafe’s owners even filed a class-action lawsuit with the city and state over huge damages.

Is it really that bad?

Not long ago, there was a precedent in American history when the thriving city of Detroit rapidly turned into a ghost city. The major auto manufacturing center collapsed after most of the manufacturing facilities were closed in the mid-20th century. For about half a century, the once prosperous Detroit was gradually collapsing, until in the 2000s the IT offices were purchased.

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Yet it is highly unlikely that a similar fate will befall New York. Unlike Detroit, it was not for the sake of a better life, but for the duration of a pandemic. Sooner or later, they would inevitably return to their offices. It is also a positive sign that Facebook and Google bought new buildings in Manhattan in the summer – it is unlikely that such companies would invest in real estate in a city without a future. New jobs will be created, which means new New Yorkers, new cafes, restaurants, and shops.

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The city can change, it’s true. But in its history, New York has proven its adaptability more than once – through mafia crackdowns, crises, and terrorist attacks, it has constantly changed, adapting to the needs of its citizens. In the last couple of decades, former poor neighborhoods have gradually been rebuilt into expensive and fashionable neighborhoods. Perhaps the opposite will now occur and housing will become more affordable for the new “Big Apple” conquerors. A number of landlords are already lowering prices – this will attract more young people to the city.

Along with the voices of those who herald the end of New York, there are already defenders of it. ” If you and New York are “done” – go,” wrote Huffpost columnist Jamie Fillman. New York City is considered a city for learning, becoming, and earning for a poor future. It is not a city for anyone for a lifetime. 

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