The Coronavirus Crisis Reveals New York at Its Best and Worst

In a time of containment, the city searches for a way forward.

The final weekend of semi-ordinary life in New York arrived on Friday the 13th. In the week that followed, New York became a ghost town in a ghost nation on a ghost planet. The gravity and scale of what is happening can overwhelm the details of daily life, in which human beings seek a plateau of normalcy in abnormal times, just as they always have in blitzes and battles. Nobody has any confidence at all about whether we are seeing the first phases of a new normal, the brief calm before a worse storm, or a wise reaction that may allow, not so horribly long from now, for a renewal of common life. Here are some notes on things seen by one walker in the city, and some voices heard among New Yorkers bearing witness, on and off the streets.

Stop-and-Frisk in Newark

Philip Montgomery learned there were few cinema-worthy stop-and-frisk moments in Newark. Instead, he found distrust and misunderstanding clouding these encounters.

Dinnertime, replied one man who somehow thought eating on the hood of a car in the dead of winter in Newark was a good idea. “It was a little sketchy,” said Philip Montgomery, a photographer who hopped out of the car with the officers, his huge strobe popping like a paparazzo’s.