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A bite of the Big Apple

I spent the last few days in New York, which has slowly come back to life with sidewalks and streets busier.

Downtown by the World Trade Center in an evening fog the city was as evocative as ever, and as I always do I walked past the two vast 9/11 memorial reflecting pools where water is sucked 30 feet into gigantic square basins on the site of the original twin towers

The traffic and noise if not quite to the same levels again had that nostalgic New York feel, which was good to observe in one of the greatest cities in the world. People scurried around and restaurants and bars were busy.

However it is obvious that most of these people are not working in the gigantic skyscrapers that soar into the skies. From what I can make out most offices are still sparsely occupied despite Covid restrictions being lifted. In fact a mask was a rare sight walking around the city this week.

The daily workforce population of NYC was close to 3,000,000 pre-pandemic with two-thirds of those commuting into offices from places one, two or even three hours away. It is hard to see a time when they will come back on a five day basis.

Our company is operating a new hybrid smart working model, and although busier than I anticipated our office downtown was less than half occupied when I was in it on Thursday.

Lower Manhattan now has many city dwellers when post 9/11 with the help of government subsidies aged narrow buildings were regenerated into modern apartment buildings, which probably accounts for the ‘life’ I saw around Wall Street and Broadway.

Midtown is still very much a ghost town and does not lend itself to living there, at least affordably and I think will struggle to re-invent itself.

Likewise it will be interesting watching how the City of London, a place close to my heart, comes back from this, and renews it’s significance.

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