As I was strolling with one of my dogs down Columbus Avenue this weekend, along the same drag where I made the first “New York is a hellscape / gay ice cream” video, I was overwhelmed with joy at the sight of full restaurant tables, inside and out, and lines of people waiting either to be seated or to grab takeout orders. I looked across the avenue to the eateries over there. Same thing. The sidewalk was buzzing on a beautiful spring evening in Manhattan. It was glorious.
A year ago, the tenor of conversations I’d overhear on the sidewalk as I passed by other people was gloomy and funereal. It was all about locking down, wiping down groceries and deliveries, staying inside, so-and-so being sick, getting furloughed, leaving the city… The mood and tone were palpably nervous and subdued. The vibe betrayed no joy, and there were few smiles.
This weekend was a very different movie. Along with full restaurants and lines of people waiting to get seated, there was laughter, music, cheerful conversation, light tones and sounds of happiness, as if the energy in the city was in perfect sync with nature and spring and the trees in Central Park blossoming in glorious technicolor. The city’s heart was beating a happy beat.
The difference from just over a year ago was so remarkable, I shot a little video to take in the moment and share it. A few friends on Twitter responded with similar reports of joy in different parts of the city. My friend Sharon reported the same downtown, and Antonia (@nochimmping) shared a sensational slice of life from Brooklyn.
Brooklyn today ✨🥳✨❤️✨🛼✨ pic.twitter.com/m0Xihb7KB5— Antonia (@nochimmping) April 25, 2021
How fantastic is that??!! (And now I kinda want roller skates.)
Since Motorino, my first thought for dinner, was happily full of customers, I dropped my dog Lenore at home and headed over to French Roast on Broadway and 85th for a delicious cauliflower soup and a seared Yellowfin tuna, which hit the spot. Sitting at an outdoor table on their very full and pleasant patio, I can’t tell you how nice it felt to enjoy a nice dinner, watching the city scene, sharing smiles and hellos with fellow diners who were obviously on the same wavelength.
Earlier in the day as I was walking the dogs, I was equally thrilled to see such a bright daytime scene of happy people all over Central Park… kids, couples, groups, individuals, young people, old people… all stripes and colors… The park was certifiably “lit,” as the kids say. It was a really welcome sight to behold.
There were 30 minute waits at every restaurant I passed on the UES today. The park was packed. It was glorious! Gave me the same feels. 🤗 pic.twitter.com/MDTdMBREXK— JLS (@JLeigh212) April 25, 2021
So, no, New York is not dead. Not by a long shot. Just the opposite, actually. As more people get vaccinated, you can feel the shift in the energy. You can see it on people’s faces and feel it in the air. There is hope. This gorgeous city is very much alive, and as I said in the video, we’re not just going to be okay. We’re going to be great.
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