Tuesday, March 17th, 2020
Just before midnight, I stepped out onto West 21st Street. The still landscape and clear air reminded me of the late 1970s when a glimmer of manufacturing remained on this block. The nights were quiet then. There was simply no reason to be in this part of town, since very few people lived here. In those days, at about midnight, the taxi garage emptied itself. The oversized checker cabs lined the previously empty curbs bumper-to-bumper. That was before the clubs arrived, and long before any restaurants other than Greek-run diners.
I headed home, riding south down Seventh Avenue. The street was pretty empty, but I was not alone. At Greenwich Avenue, I angled southeast toward MacDougal Street, wondering if it could be as sparse as Seventh Ave. It was empty—not empty like your own bed if you live alone, but more empty than I had ever seen it, even at 3 or 4 in the morning.
The wind blowing trash around the empty streets evoked memories of previous times when something had gone terribly wrong in this city.