“Right after Covid hit, everyone just blasted out of here,” Councilwoman Helen Rosenthal said of the Upper West Side. “You could walk just in the middle of Columbus Avenue. And I often did.”

Miles of normally cramped streets are empty, and garbage collection is lower in those neighborhoods than in recent years. In Times Square, you can practically hear the hum of electronic signs glowing above empty sidewalks.

Many New Yorkers who fled their homes in the city moved to nearby areas in Long Island, New Jersey and upstate New York.