The soul of New York City is on the ropes. The statewide mandate shutting down all nonessential businesses and ordering residents to stay indoors turned the 'City That Never Sleeps' into an overnight ghost town.
New York based photographer Phil Penman took to the desolate streets to capture a portrait of the city on lockdown. From the Staten Island Ferry and all through Manhattan, Penman snapped recognizable establishments that now seem like relics of their former self.
Gone are the chess players in Union Square, gone are the lunchtime idlers on the steps of the New York Public Library, and gone is the 24-hour traffic on the Avenues. Grand Central's iconic clock ticks for no one and Times Square looks like an abandoned mining town after all the prospectors have fled. 'It's like being in a movie that's not entertaining,' said Penman.
A person walking their dog, crossing Tenth Avenue, March 23, 2020. 'It's so foreign to walk out onto the street and see no people,' said Penman
The Statue of Liberty seen from the Staten Island Ferry, March 25, 2020. Penman said this was his favorite photo from the series, 'just because normally you would never get to take that picture because there would be too many people on the boat'
A man returning from fishing in Central Park, March 24, 2020
A passenger wearing a mask on the Staten Island Ferry, March 25, 2020. 'It was just horrible to be on the boat and you look around and everyone's wearing a mask. Nobody is saying a word, it's just brutal,' said Penman
A shuttered business window sign in Hells Kitchen reads 'Stay Strong New York,' March 22, 2020
A rat on 42nd Street near Grand Central Station, March 19, 2020. Penman who lived in New York during 9/11 said that the coronavirus lockdown feels different. He said after 9/11, the sidewalks and streets were packed with people trying to help. 'Back then you couldn't get away from it, but this is different because it almost feels like an enforced quiet,' said Penman
In a city with 8.6 million people, Penman said he was struck by the 'emptiness.'
Penman said that there have been few occasions where he suddenly felt overcome by the city's drastic change. Born in the UK, he said that New York City has been his home for the last 20 years, 'It's where my heart is.'
'The city that's normally hustling and bustling and is now just empty. Devoid of everything. People are walking around and nobody is saying a word, they keep their heads down and now it's even scarier because everyone is wearing a mask,' he told DailyMail.com.
Penman, who photographed the Twin Towers when they fell on 9/11 drew a comparison to the tragedy but struggled to put his finger on what feels different. 'Back then you couldn't get away from it, but this is different because it almost feels like an enforced quiet.'
'After 9/11 you'd walk around the streets and people were everywhere. Everyone was doing their bit to try and help out, you would walk down West Side Highway and volunteers were giving water out,' said Penman to DailyMail.com. 'But with this, you don't see anybody.'
'It's funny cause I used to go out and I would purposely wait until when it was quiet to take pictures because I didn't want too many people in the photos and now of course before there's nobody anywhere.'
New York City is now quiet as a postcard - the kind that tourists used to send back home and Penman longs for the city he loves. 'I always kind-of looked at New York as being a person. I just miss it.'
A man walking across Madison Avenue, March 13, 2020. Penman said the city is 'Devoid of everything. People are walking around and nobody is saying a word, they keep their heads down and now it's even scarier because everyone is wearing a mask'
An empty intersection in Midtown, New York City, March 22, 2020
A person passing the Ambassador Theater in Midtown, March 24, 2020. Broadway cancelled all performances beginning on March 12
Midtown, Manhattan during the coronavirus outbreak, March 24, 2020
A delivery man on a moped brings groceries to isolated New Yorkers from the local bodega in Midtown, Manhattan, March 24, 2020
Empty benches on the Hudson River, March 18, 2020
A man walks his dog through Madison Square Park which is usually packed with entertainers, chess game players and revelers on any given day, March 18, 2020. 'We are fueled by human interaction. In a city filled with unpredictability, we rely on daily routines to ground us. These certainties have been up-ended,' said Penman
An empty shopping cart is chained to a post on East 54th street in empty Midtown, Manhattan, March 22, 2020
Radio City Music Hall can be seen in the distance while looking east down 51st Street, March 22, 2020
Usually packed with rush hour traffic, the Chambers Street subway station is eerily empty on March 25, 2020
Seagulls fly behind the Staten Island Ferry, March 25, 2020
A movie theater on Third Avenue, March 22, 2020
A relic of the Bad Boy Worldwide offices with retail spaces have been completed shuttered. The now defunct record label was launched in 1993 by Sean 'Diddy' Combs
Satin Dolls, a New Jersey strip club featured in the Sopranos still advertises 'Open Now' on their sign despite having been forced closed in the state mandated coronavirus shutdown
A doorman for a luxury Midtown, Manhattan apartment duty shows up to work wearing gloves and a mask
Park Avenue, approaching Grand Central Station, March 22, 2020
Passengers on the 6 train heading uptown, March 25, 2020
The FDR Drive, looking down from Brooklyn Bridge, March 25, 2020. New York is the third most congested city in the world and second worst in the United States
Churches have been forced to conduct service online after the coronavirus shutdown banned gatherings larger than ten people