COVID-19: The East Village in 2020

Throughout the lockdown in New York City, I documented my experiences in the East Village while taking walks at night and during breaks from working in a small apartment. I illustrated how people dressed and how the neighborhood changed.

Woman walking in East Village, wearing mask and gloves before Covid-19 lockdown.

Even at the very beginning in March, some people were extremely cautious, wearing masks, face shields, and gloves.

A couple hoarding groceries.
A couple hoarding groceries.

Then the hoarding crisis quickly came into play. People left Trader Joe’s and Target on 14th Street and Avenue A with many bags of toilet paper, sanitizer, bread, and more.

Delivery bicyclists during the pandemic.
Delivery bicyclists during the pandemic.

Soon after, residents ordered by delivery only. Bicyclists from GrubHub, Caviar, and other services became the only traffic on the street.

People sneezing and walking streets without masks.
People sneezing and walking streets without masks.

But despite the panic, there were still people who thought they either didn’t need a mask or didn’t wear it at all times. They were oblivious to others who coughed or sneezed near them.

East Village resident screaming at people without masks.
East Village resident screaming at people without masks.

This happened enough that people screamed at them in the neighborhood.

Man scared to help old woman because of Covid-19.
Man scared to help old woman because of Covid-19.

Those who took it seriously though kept at least a six-foot distance and some were uncomfortable helping others.

Woman dressed for social distancing.
Woman dressed for social distancing.

Others tried to make the best of wearing masks and gloves. A stylish woman on 10th Street decided to make a statement with her outfit.

Man in biohazard suit dressed in style.
Man in biohazard suit dressed in style.

Another person outside the closed Bean on 1st Avenue and 9th Street protected themselves in a biohazard suit.

Bicyclist wearing DJ Marshmello mask.
Bicyclist wearing DJ Marshmello mask.

A bicyclist on Broadway (in SoHo) wore a mask just like the DJ Marshmello.

Gothic couple on Bowery.
Gothic couple on Bowery.

On Bowery, a gothic couple’s regular apparel now fit in with everyone else’s.

Bros exercising without masks on.
Bros exercising without masks on.

But there were still bros who worked out in Tompkins Square Park without masks or gloves, touching public equipment, exercising close together, and not using sanitizer.

Man peening on car as another jumps of poop in the East Village.
Man peening on car as another jumps of poop in the East Village.

To make things worse, the neighborhood was even dirtier than it had already been. People stopped picking up their dog’s poop and even urinated in broad daylight. One man walked out of an apartment building and peed on a car between Avenue A and B on 3rd Street.

Police ignore couple drinking beer on the streets.
Police ignore couple drinking beer on the streets.

The police no longer cared. They didn’t even stop people from drinking on the street. Some even managed to drink beer near the station on Avenue C and 8th Street.

Homeless man asking for change while keeping a social distance.
Homeless man asking for change while keeping a social distance.

Homelessness was worse due to people being furloughed, unemployed, or evicted. A man across the street from Target on 14th Street and Avenue A asked for change while following the city’s social distance guidance.

Riot in the East Village and Union Square during George Floyd protests.
Riot in the East Village and Union Square during George Floyd protests.

Then, on May 25th, George Floyd was murdered by police in Minneapolis, MN. Soon after there were protests nationwide and throughout New York City. On May 30, a massive protest, rioting, and looting occurred in the East Village and Union Square. Many stores were broken into, people arrested, and at least nine police cars were vandalized, smashed or burned.

At the beginning of June, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that people could get a COVID-19 test for free. People walking by a medical center were drawn in by nurses. It turned out that not all of those tests were free!

Home Depot customer wearing mask and gloves.
Home Depot customer wearing mask and gloves.

As summer approached, stores began to open and many people felt they didn’t need to protect themselves anymore. But some continued to wear large amounts of protective gear.

Celebration in the East Village for the Biden-Harris victory.
Celebration in the East Village for the Biden-Harris victory.

For the most part, the city’s restrictions and policies remained the same in the summer and fall. Many were still unhappy and worried about the virus and the 2020 Presidential Election. But November 7 was the best day of the year. Biden and Harris were announced the winners of the election and people stormed the streets and cheered. Bagpipes were played, bottles of champagne were popped, and even Chuck Schumer rode around NYC. Finally, the East Village had something to look forward to.

Shortly after, the Village returned to how it was before. People tried to enjoy themselves in the cold and wind. But they still had to follow Governor Cuomo’s policies in outdoor dining, occupancy limits, and curfews.

Edited by Loren DeVito.

Visual Designer, Illustrator and Front-End Developer. robinmuccari.com