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New York lockdown drone video captures richness of the city

Coronavirus lockdown videos have become a genre unto themselves. By now we’ve seen so many hauntingly empty vistas of great cities like Paris, London, New York, and Rome. Yet a fresh New York lockdown drone video by YouTuber DroneFanatic shows more of the city than you would expect, and from fantastic heights and angles.

Running 5 minutes, 38 seconds, the video leaves plenty of room to take in an expansive view of the city — mainly Manhattan, which accounts for nearly all of the video. The biggest landmarks naturally appear. You see the lantern of the Statue of Liberty and the spire of the Chrysler Building in the first few seconds, for instance. (The latter must violate the prohibition on drone flights over 400 feet.) A smooth glide up Park Avenue takes you to Grand Central Station, with a close-up flyby of the clock and great statue of Mercury, god of travel. The World Trade Center is frequently in the background of shots taken downtown, although there are no closeups.

The famous and obscure

But the New York lockdown drone video travels to so many other landmarks well known to locals but not necessarily to out-of-towners. There’s Cooper Square, a quiet plaza at the edge of the East Village where art and design students from the Cooper Union once mingled. There’s a flyover of the Manhattan Bridge. Beloved by locals for its elegant, lacey ironwork, it fails to get much notice from visitors compared to the world-famous Brooklyn Bridge just downriver. (Curiously, there is no footage of the more-famous bridge in this video.)

DroneFanatic does a flyover of Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, but it also covers the lesser-known Citi Field in Queens where the New York Mets play. The footage glides over the elegant brick and stone streets of SoHo, but also up the plain avenues of the Upper East Side. Even the generic high-rises along the East River take on a majestic tone in a sweeping flyby with golden light.

The video glides lovingly over the dome of an old courthouse and the tower of an old library that I knew well as a local but have never seen in a movie or postcard. DroneFanatic clearly understands the city well and uses that knowledge to portray the places that the locals know and love. The one aspect that’s hard to recognize, though, is the emptiness of the once-teeming city.

Image: DroneFanatic



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Sean Captain is a Bay Area technology, science, and policy journalist. Follow him on Twitter @SeanCaptain.