Before becoming the epicenter of the deadly COVID-19 pandemic, it was The City That Never Sleeps, full of 24-hour social activity, bustling streets and thriving businesses.
And then New York City came to a standstill.
More than 32,000 New Yorkers have been killed since the pandemic started last March, with at one point 800 people dying daily and body bags piling up on the streets.
When the outbreak struck, residents, especially the rich and young professionals, fled the city en masse to take shelter elsewhere, leaving behind unprecedented scenes.
Manhattan’s usually busy thoroughfares, including iconic Times Square, were now deserted, while the restaurants, bars and long-standing businesses that were once crawling with crowds showed no signs of life.
The consequences of the pandemic were so profound that they raised the question of whether the Five Boroughs would ever be able to return.
New York photographer Phil Penman took the images of those deserted streets a year ago to commemorate the sad state of those once thriving neighborhoods.
Now, a year later, photos show New York City picking up the pieces after being seized by the new virus that locked down 8.4 million residents and turned the bustling Big Apple into a gloomy ghost town.
Normally overcrowded parts of the cities that were once deserted have resurfaced as restorative neighborhoods where the streets are now lined with ‘new’ eateries outside, in accordance with COVID-19 rules.
“The main thing that struck me was the construction that took place last year,” said Penman. ‘In some photos you can see that completely new buildings have been built. Small differences from shops that used to be have also disappeared. ‘
Here DailyMail.com takes you on a dramatic journey thanks to Phil Penman’s stunning photos – New York then and now.
Stunning photos from New York photographer Phil Penman show how the Big Apple is slowly rebounding after a year of devastation and economic turmoil caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Above you can see Midtown Manhattan in the middle of the pandemic on March 22, 2020 and a year later on March 26, 2021.
Flatiron District, April 1, 2020 vs March 16, 2021: The 2020 pandemic lockdown basically transformed the city into a ghost town after businesses were forced to close and residents fled
Upper East Side, March 22, 2020 versus March 26, 2021: A cinema on Manhattan’s Upper East Side is back up and running a year after its doors closed due to the pandemic.
West 26th Street April 1, 2020 vs March 21, 2021: Not only has social activity returned to the streets, but a year later, new developments have emerged in the background of the city
Fifth Avenue, March 19, 2020 vs March 21, 2021: One of Manhattan’s most famous thoroughfares, known for its upscale shopping and wealthy residents, looked like pre-pandemic times after being abandoned during months-long lockdown
Fifth Avenue, March 19, 2020 vs March 21, 2021: Scaffolding and shopping ads have been posted in clothing stores as people return to the upscale shopping district
Soho, March 18, 2020 vs March 21, 2021: Pedestrians and vehicles return to once-deserted Prince Street
W 37th Street, April 1, 2020 vs March 26, 2021: A Dunkin Donuts in Manhattan’s Garment District is open for business again and new billboard ads are posted, in another sign of recovery
Seventh Avenue, March 29, 2020 versus March 15, 2021: Pedestrians take to the streets and a nearby phone booth is now smeared with graffiti as NYC returns to normal life
Soho, March 18, 2020 vs March 21, 2021: A once-shuttered Rimowa store on Prince Street has now reopened and offers outdoor seating
W Houston Street, March 18, 2020 vs March 26, 2021: An open-air flea market draws customers outside the Church of St. Anthony of Padua, one year after closing
Grand Central Station April 15, 2020 vs March 15, 2021: One of New York Cities’ busiest rail terminals, brought to a halt during the pandemic, resumes on 42nd Street
West 52nd St, March 22, 2020, versus March 15, 2021: Social activity and traffic are slowly increasing in Midtown West
Washington Square Park, March 18, 2020 vs March 30, 2021: The famous West Village park is once again teeming with visitors after looking like a ghost town at the lock last year
Washington Square Park, March 18, 2020 vs March 30, 2021: The park’s usual crowd of students and social activists no longer existed after the pandemic took over the city last year
Midtown Manhattan, March 23, 2020 versus March 15, 2021: West 55th Street, deserted a year earlier, bounces back with its usual busy traffic and tents with outdoor seating along the streets
Soho, March 18, 2020 vs March 21, 2021: At a sign of the times, Fanelli Cafe is seen back in business, this time serving customers in makeshift sidewalk dining rooms in line with coronavirus restrictions
Times Square, March 29, 2020 vs March 15, 2021: Brooklyn Diner prepares to reopen with signs saying, ‘We look forward to seeing you when it’s healthy to do so’
Soho, March 18, 2020 vs March 21, 2021: Prince Street resembles pre-pandemic scenes as New Yorkers return to normal life
Soho, March 18, 2020 versus March 21, 2021: Prince Street’s scenic roads were once again busy with shoppers as businesses reopened
Times Square, March 22, 2020 vs March 26, 2021: In arguably one of the most staggering scenes during last year’s lockdown, NYC’s most famous tourist attraction, known for its bright lights and busy streets, was left completely deserted
World Trade Center, March 25, 2020 vs March 16, 2021: The iconic Oculus, an artistic landmark that serves as the transportation hub of the WTC, is moving again 12 months later
Fifth Avenue, March 29, 2020 versus March 23, 2021: The famous thoroughfare, almost unrecognizable 12 months earlier, has been transformed into a bustling shopping area again
Park Avenue, March 22, 2020 versus March 15, 2021
Midtown Manhattan, March 22, 2020 versus March 15, 2021
Sixth Avenue, April 1, 2020 vs March 26, 2021: Pedestrians walk down the street littered with garbage bags – in another sign that the lockdown is coming to an end
Grand Central Station, April 15, 2020 versus March 15, 2021: Commuters return to the train station as the city resumes operations amid reopening plan
Midtown Manhattan, March 24, 2020 versus March 15, 2021