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  • Writer's pictureChristian Gregory

Photos: An Empty City Amid The Covid-19 Pandemic

It’s 5:30am and I’ve just been abruptly awoken by my iPhone’s annoyingly loud alarm. I had plans to shoot the sunrise in Philadelphia as I do on my days off every now and then. Except this day off was different than a regular day. Today is Tuesday March 24, 2020, the day after Gov. Tom Wolf issued a stay-at-home order for most of Pennsylvania, including Philadelphia.

My route includes taking US 202, to 309 then getting off and taking Lincoln Dr. As you may know, traffic on all three of these roads is consistently brutal in the morning rush hour. Not on March 24. Getting to the city from Doylestown was a breeze. I made it to Philly in about 35 minutes, not too bad. One thing I didn’t anticipate was how hard it would be to find a parking spot, considering everyone isn’t leaving anytime soon. I circled many blocks, eventually getting frustrated and parking in a spot for motorcycles with my Jeep.

I started my photography on the Ben Franklin Parkway. I knew the city would be empty, but I wasn’t ready to actually witness it. It was extremely eerie. It looked like a scene out of The Walking Dead. One car every 2-3 minutes or so. The people were so far and few between, I felt like I was alone in such a usually populated city. The hustle and bustle of a big city, gone. Turned into the quiet streets of an urban suburbia. I walked from Ben Franklin Parkway to Love Park to photograph the infamous Love Park statue at 15th and JFK Blvd. If you’ve ever visited Love Park, then you know tourists are lining up to take a photograph with the statue no matter what time it is. Today?

Silence. Except for the occasional car passing.

A short walk later and found myself in the City Hall entrance for the subway and El. Not one person going in or out of the turnstiles. Not one person. It was now about 7 in the morning, the morning rush is just starting. Not in Philly.

What I’ve taken from this is the cliche “Don’t take things for granted”. I don’t know about you, but I can not wait to go out to eat or sit at a bar and have a beer or go to a concert or even just the movies. Just to be normal again. We will get through this but not without life lost. I hope you and your family stay healthy and do as I say, not as I do....stay home!

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