From Wall Street to the Silicon Slopes, portraits of a frozen spring through the lens of seven photographers.
America, we’ve never seen you like this before. Bustling commercial centers and corporate campuses are barren; main streets and malls are black holes. To stop the spread of infection and “flatten the curve,” nearly everything is shuttered: movie theaters and schools, factories and restaurants, mom-and-pop spots and big box chains. Only the hospitals are buzzing—and the funeral parlors.
Take a look at our empty America through the lens of some our best photographers.
New York, New York
“I was here for 9/11 but that was completely different. There was still life in other parts of the city. Now there’s no activity anywhere. Nothing. I never felt so isolated before. I was all alone. Walking in the financial district was like the Everest of business was frozen. I know I’ll never see anything like this ever again. I had no business being down here.”
San Francisco • Palo Alto • Mountain View, California
“I went to the places where I typically would be doing shoots of big tech companies like Google and startups. I wanted to walk those streets again and see what it feels like now. It was much more grim an experience than I thought it would be. There was a feeling I shouldn’t be out here. I’m used to being in San Francisco and finding a spot to duck into to check email, grab a cup of coffee. Nothing was open so there was no place to take a break or collect your thoughts. Palo Alto had a different uneasiness. It was sunny, clean, the trees watered, but empty like a movie set. But this is something we are doing ourselves because everyone is being sensible and staying home.”
“It was hard to see huge businesses like Target and McDonald’s appear to be thriving while small mom-and-pop shops are clearly struggling or failing. The contrast was striking. I found myself thinking about how spending money and consumerism is such a big part of our lives, and hitting the pause button makes it more apparent. We’re all thinking more about what you need versus what you thought you need or just wanted. I hope we come out the other end with a different perspective.”
Conoga Park • Sherman Oaks, California
“It felt postapocalyptic. It’s sad because these businesses deserve to be open. This civilization we worked really to hard build is being temporarily abandoned. But even though there are nearly no people outside, there was a lot of human presence in the things designed meant to house, entertain and fill people’s lives. They’re just sad and forlorn now.”
“I wanted to see how iconic Detroit companies, landmarks and major attractions were doing. Business is on hold but there are people around doing active things, especially kids riding bikes and skateboarding. People still want to be human. The city’s been on the rebound since the bankruptcy and now it’s on hold again. Mostly what you see is a lot of empty.”
Salt Lake City • Lehi, Utah
“We have a quarantine suggestion but most business are operating. Most companies are working from home, so it’s fascinating go to office buildings—Adobe, Oracle—and almost no one is there. It’s like everyone got sucked up. A lot of people are going to lose their business. Everyone’s holding on tight but they’re still really struggling.”