EXCLUSIVE: Striking photographs show how New York City is coming back to life 12 months after the coronavirus pandemic transformed the 'City That Never Sleeps' into a desolate ghost town


Before it became the epicenter of the deadly COVID-19 pandemic, it was The City That Never Sleeps, teeming with around-the-clock social activity, buzzing streets, and booming businesses.

And then, New York City stood still.

More than 32,000 New Yorkers lost their lives since the start of the pandemic last March, which at one point saw 800 people dying daily and body bags piling up on the streets. 

As the outbreak took hold, residents, particularly the wealthy and young professionals, fled the city in droves to take shelter elsewhere, leaving behind unprecedented scenes.

Manhattan's usually bustling thoroughfares, including its iconic Times Square, now stood deserted, while its restaurants, bars, and longstanding businesses that were once swarming with crowds, showed no signs of life. 

The effects of the pandemic were so profound, they raised questions as to whether the Five Boroughs would ever be able to bounce back.

New York photographer Phil Penman has captured the images of those desolate streets a year ago to memorialize the sad state of those once thriving neighborhoods.

Now, one year later, photos show New York City is picking up the pieces after being gripped by the novel virus that sent 8.4million residents into lockdown and effectively transformed the bustling Big Apple into a gloomy ghost town.

Normally congested parts of the cities that were once abandoned, have re-emerged as recovering neighborhoods where the streets are now lined with 'new' outdoor dining tents, in line with COVID-19 rules. 

'The main thing that stood out to me was the construction that has gone on in last year,' Penman said. 'In some of the pictures you can see entire new buildings have gone up. Also small differences of stores that used to be that are gone.'

Here, DailyMail.com takes you on a dramatic journey thanks to Phil Penman's stunning photographs - New York then and now.