The early evening skies over Hell’s Kitchen turned gray as the city filled with the smell of smoke from Canadian wildfires. The dense smoke, which blocked out the sun, caused confusion as automatic lighting systems triggered well before the scheduled 8:24pm sunset.
New York City has found itself under a shroud of wildfire smoke from Canada, resulting in a dramatic rise in air quality levels to unhealthy standards. The sight of a fiery red sun rising in the morning was a stark indication of the looming smoke-filled days to come. The phenomenon turned heads citywide and quickly became a hot topic on social media. Iconic landmarks, such as the Empire State Building, One Vanderbilt and the Chrysler Building, were enveloped in an intense orange haze, adding an uncanny element to the city’s skyline.
However, the scenes carried a warning of unhealthy air quality levels. The East is bracing for more smoke this week, prompting the issue of an air quality alert for multiple states, including New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont and New Hampshire. This alert cautions that the high concentration of air pollutants may pose risks to individuals with heart or lung disease, children, and adults over 65, and urges them to limit their time outdoors.
Tonight, Hell’s Kitchen dog walker, Mirjana Vicari, expressed her disbelief on Instagram, saying, “This is absolutely nuts. Poor earth. I can’t believe you can smell the smoke”. “This wildfire smoke is crazy. No one wants to sit outside, obviously. It also slows down a night that could have been busy. Hope it goes away tomorrow,” said Sabrina Gao from Sesamo restaurant on W52nd and 10th Avenue.
Daniele Kucera from Etcetera Etcetera on W44th Street told us: “We had three tables no show. Otherwise, it was a decent Tuesday. One table even ate outdoors,” he added. “This is really bad. I am wearing a mask today.”
“It was surreal! Not great for business as I think people wisely stayed indoors,” said Tyrone Green from Dark Side of the Moo on W44th Street.
Adam Block, owner of The Press Lounge on 11th Avenue, commented: “It reminds me of home during the fire season in Northern California. It’s where I first had the pleasure of learning how to breathe through a N95 Mask (pre-pandemic). As for business, the Canadian smoke just made for another beautiful night at The Press Lounge. That said, my staff felt somewhat hypocritical enforcing our non-smoking policy.”