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We’ve all walked 9th Avenue at some point during the pandemic and either raised our eyes or felt sad. Bobby List took his camera one afternoon this week and strolled from W42nd Street to W58th Street to document every closed storefront.
We reproduce his pictures, and the words of Bobby and his friend Matt Curtis about the state of 9th Avenue and Hell’s Kitchen.
[NOTE: All places photographed were closed at the time Bobby took his walk. We know for example that Patron and Rudy’s are in hibernation, the Starbucks at the corner of W48th closed years before the pandemic, and Sacco Pizza is just open less these days — new hours Monday to Saturday 11am-8:30pm and closed on Sundays for now (and Bobby caught them with their shutters down). However, you could add to the photos Kashkaval Garden and Alfie’s that have both closed this week until indoor dining returns.]
Hell’s Kitchen is a vibrant patch of New York City which normally welcomes about 10 million tourists in a given year. During the holiday season, these tourists, plus the residents of this historic neighborhood enjoy the welcoming small-town vibe that Hell’s Kitchen is famous for — family-owned restaurants, small independent businesses, art galleries, coffee shops, and a healthy selection of pubs and gay bars that thrive against the landscape of skyscrapers that surround it. Behind the scenes are the workers that keep the ever-grinding cogs of New York City moving: the staffs of the restaurants and stores, the casts and crews of Broadway shows, the hotel employees… tens of thousands of people who live here and make the city the magical place it is.
That’s a normal year. This year is different.
This week, I walked 16 blocks (0.8 miles) in Hell’s Kitchen, along 9th Avenue from 42nd to 58th Streets. Along the way, I photographed every empty storefront and every abandoned restaurant. I photographed a total of 75 shuttered businesses. Each of these empty windows represents an entire staff of employees who are out of work. And all of their families and financial responsibilities that have been put on hold since March. This 16-block walk represents a tiny sliver of the loss in this city. It is unfathomable and heartbreaking. And while New Yorkers are resilient and WILL rebuild as strong as ever, some are finding it harder to hang onto their lasts threads of hope.
Even more upsetting is knowing that this struggle and pain is not unique to New York — I know that cities all across the country have felt this economic and cultural collapse.
A $600 stimulus payment just isn’t going to cut it. It doesn’t even make a dent.
Congress is completely out of touch with reality.
Keep on supporting those that are open. The W42ST “Hell’s Kitchen is OPEN!” app includes over 80 eateries. Open it up and find the best deal for you (and them). It’s 100% free to restaurants and you thanks to the generosity of The Durst Organization, HYHK Alliance and the support of W42ST.nyc readers.