On block after block, the stores and restaurants are boarded shut, as though anticipating a hurricane, and by this point, it is safe to say that most of these businesses will now never return.

An estimated 420,000 residents fled the city between March and May and their apartments and homes now sit empty, waiting for an all-clear - and a vaccine that will never come fast enough.

For years I saw some of this reckoning coming. I frequently wrote about the widening gulf between the super-rich blow-ins and the ordinary New Yorkers that they were pricing so many out of the city.

For rent signs are going up all over the city as businesses fail.

For rent signs are going up all over the city as businesses fail.

I wrote about the modern colonial conquest of national chain stores, buying out all the mom and pops and robbing the city of its character and livelihoods (how chains like Duane Reade and CVS and Starbucks and all the exclusive new glass and steel condos were devouring every city block and making Manhattan look like the suburbs).

But I did not foresee a medieval pestilence, or how it would unmask all of this violence so unmercifully.

Now that the city these deep-pocketed blow-ins fled at the first sign of trouble has half collapsed, alongside their faith in its return, they are not just sitting out the pandemic upstate in their second summer homes or out on the island, they're also slowly adjusting to the fact that world they once knew has ended.

It's very unlikely that New York will figure in their futures when the dust settles. High rise skyscrapers have started to resemble massive cruise ships in terms of the sheer opportunities for viral infection. What once seemed desirable now looks dangerous.

Residential and business high rises sit empty – with employees working remotely - and it is unclear when if ever the residents and workers will safely return.

Grand Central Station, normally a thriving hub, is eerily quiet these days.

Grand Central Station, normally a thriving hub, is eerily quiet these days.

Even the appeal of cities – many people, multiple opportunities – now just looks like many more chances to get and transmit a virus. The Irish bars that were such a cultural and social hub are mostly closed and many have closed forever. No wonder, Manhattan's been turned upside down.

A recent report by Douglas Elliman and Miller Samuel Real Estate Appraisers & Consultants estimates that 13,117 apartments sit empty now across Manhattan, but when you actually walk the streets the number will feel higher. Where is everyone, you will ask yourself as you walk the curiously empty streets, why do I feel like I'm in the old sci-fi horror The Day The Earth Stood Still?

Broadway is padlocked and old posters for shows that were forced to close or never even made it to opening now sit in their dusty glass frames, haunting you with all their lost potential. I saw ads for "Riverdance" (it closed the week it was opened), for Conor McPherson's "North Country" musical, I thought of The Irish Rep's revival of a Eugene O'Neill classic that never even made it to the footlights when the pandemic was announced.

So New York City now makes the Trump presidency look like what it actually is, a ghastly, consequential, reactionary mistake that has wreaked unforgivable havoc on this city, this nation, this world.

Hotels remain closed as tourists stay home.

Hotels remain closed as tourists stay home.

It looks in fact like a biblical judgment on Trump's bottomless hubris, a plague sent to puncture him for all his cruelty and boasting, and to bring him and un-listening supporters low.

Trump knows how bad it looks and so do his last defenders. He cannot run on his record, because his record is a lethal pandemic with the highest transmission and death rate in the world and 170,000 dead, his record is also a historic level of job losses, his record is unprecedented death and infection and the staggering and still unfolding human cost.

Trump's parting gift to the city that always had his number and rejected him was to let it fall unaided. He helped ensure its doctors and nurses had to resort to Glad bags and Marigold gloves to treat patients, he nickel and dimed every payment he made. And yet somehow it has managed without him, which then infuriated him more.

But I want to focus on New York for a moment. I want to remind you how many people here have lost their jobs and their ability to pay for their apartments and lives, I want to tell you about the resultant spike in crime and homelessness, I want to tell you about the long lines for daily food parcels seen in each neighborhood now.

Signs seen all around Manhattan now.

Signs seen all around Manhattan now.

I also want to tell you about the empty subway cars and trains and planes that seem to be running on reflex, simply because they have always done so, rather than to meet any demand. I have watched these ghost trains run on schedule and almost empty of passengers since March. It's the most visible and eerie reminder of just how far this city and country has fallen.

I also want to tell you that the immigrants that Trump and his supporters despise as “illegals” and want to drive out of America are the only ones still keeping the city running, as the more affluent stay at home or have fled upstate.

It's time ordinary Americans understood just how much they owe to these immigrants that Trump brutalizes, and how moving it is that those same hard-working immigrants – who are keeping Manhattan's lights on, opening stores, preparing food, setting up your COVID-19 test, delivering your mail - still come here, or want to come here at all.

For months the only sound that you could hear in New York was the sounds of the ambulance sirens, so you woke to them and you fell asleep to them, as emergency services raced yet another poor soul to the hospital against time.

420,000 people fled New York between March and May.

420,000 people fled New York between March and May.

Now you can walk across Park Avenue or Fifth Avenue with acres of time to spare, with no need to avoid the almost non-existent traffic, becoming in the process what Simon and Garfunkel once called The Only Living Boy In New York. The streets have become cavernous, but they are filled with what is missing, not what is there.

It hasn't stopped either. There are plans here to send students back to their classrooms, plans that every other state shows us quickly conclude with mass infections and re-closures. The winter looks certain to become even more of a lockdown than the spring.

New York City has weathered dramatic changes in fortune before, but this one feels different. In my own building, three apartment complexes now sit empty. The born and raised New Yorkers who lived in them have moved out west, to states that were once unthinkable to them, but which now they flee to like the refugees they are.

Calls to cancel rent has grown as jobs have been lost.

Calls to cancel rent has grown as jobs have been lost.

I don't think most Americans have understood how much New York has been diminished yet, I don't think they have understood how much change is in store, or how badly the man who has misled us into this crisis has failed.

Until they walk around the haunted streets of New York City they will not understand where the country is headed next. It's nowhere good.

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