As the COVID-19 pandemic has caused life in cities around the world to grind to a halt, typically busy streets are empty, and the world’s most vibrant neighborhoods look like ghost towns.
But since we’re all staying inside, it can be difficult to really imagine how social distancing orders have changed our cities or know whether or not our personal efforts are followed by our neighbors.
Drones are uniquely equipped to capture environments from an illuminating perspective, showing us bird’s-eye views of city streets that truly give us a sense of the lockdown’s all-encompassing scale. From San Francisco to Cape Town, the videos below show a different, eerier side of your favorite cities.
San Francisco, California
From the usually bustling Columbus Avenue to Fisherman’s Wharf, San Francisco isn’t its typical lively self. All nonessential businesses have been closed in the city since March 17, and people are clearly taking social distancing recommendations seriously.
New York City, New York
The city that never sleeps has been asleep for weeks now, and it just feels downright bizarre. One of the world’s most popular destinations for tourism, New York is now almost unrecognizable, with Times Square, Rockefeller Center, and other iconic sites completely deserted.
One of the United States’ oldest cities, Boston has been through a lot, though this might be the greatest challenge it’s ever faced. Red Sox fans are forced to stay away from Fenway Park this spring, and the city’s many world-class universities are empty.
Cape Town, South Africa
Cape Town, home to over 4.6 million inhabitants at the southern tip of Africa, is quieter than ever before. Even the beaches are completely vacant — an eerie scene, but a positive sign that South Africans are abiding by social distancing guidelines.
Crossing Tower Bridge or passing the London Eye without encountering hundreds of people was unheard of before the lockdown orders. Now, London is moving a little slower. From underground stations to the iconic Ferris wheel and Trafalgar Square, London looks sleepier than it ever has before.
Mumbai, one of the world’s busiest cities, especially when it comes to traffic, is taking on a whole new character right now. Since locking down on March 25, public transportation has been dramatically reduced, and the roads are almost entirely clear.
With most of Chicago’s most notable attractions closed to the public, the city looks like a ghost town. Footage of empty parks, streets, stadiums, and boardwalks paints an unusually quiet picture of the resilient city.
Footage of an empty Vancouver not only highlights the deserted Lions Gate Bridge, Olympic cauldron, and Burrard Bridge but also sheds light on inspiring murals and displays of support for healthcare workers.
Las Vegas, Nevada
If there’s one city we might imagine incapable of actually “locking down,” it’s probably Las Vegas. Though often unbound by the rules that govern more conventional cities, even Vegas isn’t immune to the pandemic. Casinos, clubs, and hotels are closed, and its iconic Strip is unbelievably quiet.
The epicenter of the coronavirus in Europe, northern Italy was hit harder than almost anywhere in the world. As such, it makes sense that this footage of a highway near Milan shows just how desolate the roads have been.
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