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Welcome to my photo essay, New York ◌ Stilled Life.  With this website I invite you to explore the eerie beauty of the City of New York as it appeared during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown.  

Shortly after the lockdown began in March of 2020 the city streets became sparsely populated as people stayed home to practice social distancing. I found it extraordinary that so many locations around town that were normally, invariably, crowded with New Yorkers and tourists had completely emptied out.  The sight of Lincoln Center Plaza without the presence  of  a single individual was shocking.  Rockefeller Plaza with no ice skaters, office workers or tourists was breathtaking.  No people, no flags at the United Nations. Easter Sunday at the Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine--not a soul in sight.  I was immediately compelled to document these images. The city in its solitude revealed a never-before-seen beauty that was especially striking to me, being a native and life-long New Yorker. 

Over the course of the following two months I ventured out every day to capture these views. Not feeling safe to travel by car, taxi, bus or subway, I reached all the locations on foot or by bicycle. I wore a mask, spoke to no one and touched nothing other than my iPhone ad my bike.  I knew that from the time I left home until the time I returned I would not be able to eat or drink or find a restroom, as no restaurants, shops or office buildings would be open or accessible, so the locations are mostly limited to areas in Manhattan, south of 125th Street and north of the Battery.


Here is a selection of some of my favorite views.  They are almost all 100% devoid of humans, although there may be an insect-sized individual I may not have detected lurking in the background somewhere in one or two of the photos.  All photos are taken with my iPhone 11 Pro, without photoshopping, absolutely nothing is staged, and the dates and precise times of day each one was taken have been recorded.  I have over 400 images covering more than 150 individual locations.  I’ve been adding the photos to this website over time.

By mid-June, the city had started to loosen its lockdown and businesses began to attract more people back into the city.  I believe (and I certainly do hope) the images captured here will be impossible ever to be seen again, or at least not with such ubiquity.  


About Plywood New York


Quite disturbingly, after Memorial Day and the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, political unrest suddenly broke out and business owners took to boarding up and sometimes barricading their buildings.  I have captured images of many boarded-up locations which I include in a related photo series that I call Plywood New York, also featured on this website.



Some of the photos on this site have been shared with friends and family over Instagram and Facebook, but to date the images have not been seen publicly.  Currently I am seeking a wider distribution of this documentary series, and to that end I have created this website to reach out privately to museums, galleries and publishers.  I hope this unique moment in New York history may be preserved and shared with a wider audience and I invite you to contact me with any proposal for public exhibition or publication.  Thank you.


Best regards,


All photographs and this website are subject to copyright. 

©Gregory J. Peterson

All rights reserved

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