• Russell Levinson

What's it like in Manhattan during the pandemic?

Updated: Apr 30, 2021

After trips to Las Vegas, Istanbul, and Dubai during the pandemic and well over a year since I was in Manhattan (I live about 20 miles away), I decided to attempt a little staycation. My first attempt was an epic failure. I thought it would be easy to drive into the city, park for 3 days, and enjoy. But, after making the easy and quick drive with my dog, I failed to find a free parking spot after an hour of looking. Paying for parking was not in the budget and too expensive, so I cancelled the hotel reservation and drove back home.... what a waste!

After ordering a dog stroller from Amazon , I booked another hotel 2 weeks later. On March 11, 2021, I walked to the train station near my house with my dog stroller and a backpack and hopped on the short train ride to Manhattan. The Long Island Railroad allows pets if they are in an enclosed carrier, although I did let her sit on the seat for most of the ride in. As we pulled into Penn Station on a less than half full train, I was excited to be back. I lived in Manhattan from 2001 through 2006.

A quick walk a few blocks away was my hotel, a Marriott Courtyard at 34th street and 10th Avenue. This area has been built up quite a bit over the past few years. As I walked into the hotel, the area around was all under construction. I quickly checked-in with no problem and found myself in a nice, modern room, larger than most Manhattan rooms but not huge. Taking advantage of some warm weather, my dog and I explored some of the most popular areas of the city including Times Square, Herald Square, Bryant Park, Union Square, Columbus Circle, Chelsea Pier, and Central Park.

Trump was on-hand, but clueless on how to make money.

Over the next three days, I felt safe, but not as safe as I used to...there was a feeling of something missing. There were people around, but since there are no meetings, events, or conventions, it definitely felt like a different crowd. Clearly, there was a lack of office workers as well. Many restaurants and retail shops seemed to have survived, but there are way too many that did not. I saw far too many people urinating on the sidewalks and streets. Other than that, I did not witness any crimes, and no one bothered me. Times Square was the busiest area at night, with a noticeably young crowd that was a little rambunctious, but not unruly.

A few things that stuck out:

99 cents pizza? How does this still exist in Manhattan? I did not try it (Should have).

The number of bikes and bike lanes keeps increasing on the streets, and the Hudson River greenway, which runs most of the length of the city from Battery Park all the way uptown covering 13 miles with plenty to see along the way constantly gets better.

The Hudson yards neighborhood is coming along nicely with the new subway stop and a lot of new skyscrapers.

And look at the latest park along the river down by 14th street: It's called "Little Island" and is almost finished.....WOW! Fantastic addition to Manhattan.

So, all in all, Manhattan's still got the magic, but will take some time to fully get back on its feet. This summer will see a lot of outdoor performances all over the city...

I'll be back, and so will plenty of people wanting to live here, but office workers will be the real issue. Will some office buildings be converted to residential?

Recent headlines:

"Manhattan Residential Sales in March Soared to Highest Level in 14 Years"

"Remote Work Is Here to Stay. Manhattan May Never Be the Same"

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