Coronavirus has undoubtedly changed New York City. Contrary to many news articles which state that New York is now “dead,” we here at City Tales feel that coronavirus has actually uncovered New York’s greatness. Here are just a few ways New Yorkers rediscovered their city:
Most New Yorkers and visitors are unaware of the majority of New York City’s parks as NYC has more than 6,600 of them! Social distancing in New York can be difficult and with indoor gatherings extremely limited, city dwellers turned to parks to safely meet with friends and colleagues again.
Everyone is well aware of Central Park(opens in a new tab)—one of the best parks in NYC. After all, it has appeared in 305 films since 1908. In many ways, Central Park is the city’s biggest movie star. Spanning 840 acres in the middle of Manhattan, many New Yorkers find Central Park to be extremely convenient. But during coronavirus, and trying to avoid public transportation, many New Yorkers turned to parks closer to their homes.
In Manhattan, Harlemites flocked to Riverside Park, Morningside Park, Jackie Robinson Park, and Marcus Garvey Park. Those living further uptown in Washington Heights reveled in Fort Tryon Park, which boasts glorious views of the Hudson River and a branch of the Met, known as the Cloisters, dedicated entirely to medieval art. Lower Manhattan rediscovered the bohemian joys of Washington Square Park, ice skating at Bryant Park, and glorious Statue of Liberty views at Battery Park.
The Bronx boasts not one, but two parks larger than Central Park — Pelham Bay Park and Van Cortland Park. (Pelham Bay Park is the largest in New York City clocking in at 2,765 acres in size!) Queens is home to Flushing Meadows-Corona Park which was home to the 1964 World’s Fair.
Staten Island has the Greenbelt, the second largest park in NYC and even has hiking trails and campsites! Brooklyn has Prospect Park, which was actually designed by Calvert Vaux and Frederick Law Olmstead, the same team that designed Central Park (legend is they actually preferred Prospect Park.)
Discovering and rediscovering these outdoor spaces has made New Yorkers fall even more in love with their city. There are so many nice parks in NYC for locals and visitors alike, and we love nothing more than seeing people outside enjoying them!
While New York City has always been known for its restaurants(opens in a new tab) and fine dining experiences, most local New Yorkers love their street food just as much, if not more.
Street food is fast, cheap, and delicious. During Covid-19, New York expanded its street food traditions. In addition to the food trucks and carts that have always filled the sidewalks, most restaurants relied on delivery and take-out, which customers would eat in parks, walking the street, or take home to eat while bingeing Netflix. Laws were changed that allowed New Yorkers to order out alcohol, just as long as a food item was purchased with it. The summer was spent with delighted New Yorkers sipping frozen margaritas in the sunshine while munching on something tasty.
Restaurants converted the sidewalks into clever outdoor dining spaces. Entire lanes of traffic were blocked to make way for make-shift outdoor dining. An area of Hell’s Kitchen known as “Restaurant Row” was even shut off entirely to vehicular traffic so the sidewalks could be transformed into an outdoor diner’s paradise.
As temperatures dipped, restaurants got creative with private heated igloos and isolated socially-distanced cabins. One space that did an especially stand-out job with socially distanced winter dining was Pier 17(opens in a new tab). Their private cabins each contain heaters, air filters, and contactless service.
Some of the city’s fancier Michelin star restaurants had a bit more trouble converting their services to the temporary “new normal.” Restaurants such as Per Se(opens in a new tab) decided to remain closed throughout the pandemic to ensure both their employees and their guest’s safety. Other Michelin starred restaurants, such as 11 Madison Park(opens in a new tab), created prepared meals that you would actually cook at home! Detailed instructions were included, as well as video instruction featured on their social media. New Yorkers delighted in feeling like top chefs. As a bonus, a portion of the cost from each 11 Madison Park take-out meal went towards donating 10 meals to New Yorkers experiencing food insecurity.
These were just small examples of how local businesses sought to give back to New York, even while struggling themselves. This is the true spirit of New York City!