AP Photos: Ghostly Virus-era Nyc, Captured From A Motorbike

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An ultra-Orthodox Jewish boy walks along a sidewalk in the Williamsburg neighborhood in the Brooklyn borough of New York, on Wednesday, March 25, 2020. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)

NEW YORK (AP) – In its best days, in its highest moments, New York City is dizzying.

Times Square glows. Penn Station pulses. Wall Street teems with the ambitious. The highways are jammed with trucks and taxis and Ubers and Lyfts, transporting the life of the city — its people, its goods — to and fro. Underneath it all, from Manhattan to the boroughs and back, industrial-strength subways carry industrial-strength people of all shapes and hues from home to work and back again.

Then there are the worst days, the hardest moments. These days. Today, New York City is dizzying in a different way.

For now, it is become a place of familiar landmarks and well-trodden streets thrown off kilter by an invisible adversary that is taking some of its people away and terrifying the rest.

How to understand this city of cities at this moment in time? How to see it as it really feels, to chronicle it as it is knocked back, if not knocked down?

Photographer Wong Maye-E and photo editor Enric Marti found a way. On his motorcycle — with him driving and her shooting — they moved across a phantom city overflowing with the things that weren’t happening, chronicling the daily life that was not taking place.

Day after day, from mid-March until last week, 12 rides in all, they made different loops around the city. Greenwich Village to Gowanus. Lower Manhattan to Harlem. Red Hook to Elmhurst. Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx: on avenues and on side streets, over bridges and across parkways and expressways.

Marti chose the routes as they went, using his photographer’s eye to make driving choices, sometimes listening to the unforgettable New York music of Lou Reed.

Wong, perched on the back, worked fast with an eye honed in places from Myanmar to North Korea, choosing her moments to illustrate the life of a city on pause. Sometimes they were so in sync, so wrapped in this strange world, that he would pause and point, and she would have already seen the shot and raised her lens.

In many of these images, the people are what’s missing. They are not where they should be. In others, a few tread where throngs usually walk, an unsettling sight in itself. Wong and Marti captured restaurants, closed. Taxis lined up, parked and unoccupied. Wide highways, unwelcoming in their emptiness. People, alone where the crowds should be.

The bike — its bumps, its turns, its quickness — made the photography more challenging. Somehow, though, as they suspected, it also pulled out the character of the city in a way that matched this odd moment: a bit crooked, a bit skewed, as if, all at once, it was New York and it wasn’t.

For those who do not call New York home, the city flashes in and out of consciousness, served up in establishing shots and TV credits. “Taxi.” “The Sopranos.” “Law & Order.” “Sex and the City.” Because of this, most of us — the non-New Yorkers among us — tend to consume the city in quick and fragmented images.

What Wong and Marti discovered and corralled is the documentary version of this — the snippets and snatches of a city served up as as it really is right now, constricted and claustrophobic in all its shell-shocked glory. And still, strangely, cinematic.

A lone jogger. A tentative street crosser. A man, sitting on an overpass alone. Straight things and square things, served up at oblique angles. Items in the foreground that shouldn’t be there. Other things reaching in from the side. Motorcycle mirrors making cameo appearances to show that these were not moments planned and blocked, but moments snagged before the hibernating city reclaimed them once more.

This album — street photography in the metaphorical and literal senses, most of it entirely uncropped — is an album of images, of course. But it is also an album of the senses, of what it feels like to do what most of us cannot and would not: wander the city while it is a ghost and see what we find. “The whole idea,” says Wong, “was to make it a stolen moment.”

Many of New York’s moments have, in fact, been stolen in these most recent weeks of its life. Pieces of the city have waited for its people to come back before, though never quite like this. And just as before, the city waits for its people. If the past is any indication, they will return.

But not yet.

A man crosses a street against the backdrop of One World Trade Center at dusk in New York, on Saturday, March 21, 2020. Amid the coronavirus outbreak, the city, a place of familiar landmarks and well-trodden streets, has been thrown off kilter by an invisible adversary that is taking some of its people away and terrifying the rest. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)

Street lights form streaks as a motorcycle travels down a highway free of traffic in the Queens borough of New York, on Tuesday, March 31, 2020. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)
A man smokes a cigarette while waiting to cross a street in the Brooklyn borough of New York, on Wednesday, March 25, 2020. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)
A road leading through Central Park is framed by an overpass in New York, on Sunday, March 22, 2020. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)
Two police officers stand on a street corner to encourage social distancing in New York, on Wednesday, March 25, 2020. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)
A woman stands alone outside an empty subway entrance on 42nd Street in Times Square, which is usually bustling with activity, in New York, on Wednesday, March 25, 2020. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)
A cyclist delivering food stops at an intersection in the East Village neighborhood of New York, on Thursday, March 26, 2020. Many restaurants in New York City have converted to delivery and take-out orders only as people are encouraged to stay home. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)
An ambulance turns the corner beneath the Flushing Avenue subway station, photographed from the back of a motorcycle, in the Brooklyn borough of New York, on Wednesday, March 25, 2020. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)
Pedestrians, one wearing a face mask, cross Park Avenue in New York, on Wednesday, March 25, 2020. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)
Red teddy bears sit at the outdoor tables of a restaurant on Madison Avenue in New York on Sunday, March 22, 2020. Many restaurants in New York City have converted to delivery and take-out orders only as people are encouraged to stay home. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)
Buildings in Brooklyn and Manhattan separated by the East River are seen from the Williamsburg Bridge in New York, on Wednesday, March 25, 2020. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)
A man gazes out of a window of a restaurant as he adjusts potted plants in New York, on Wednesday, March 25, 2020. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)
A empty street frames One World Trade Center in downtown New York, on Sunday, March 22, 2020. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)
Neon signs at the Apollo Theater glow beside closed establishments in the Harlem neighborhood of New York, on Tuesday, March 31, 2020. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)
A jogger runs past blossoming trees on a path next to the Henry Hudson Parkway in New York, on Tuesday, March 31, 2020. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)
A cyclist rides down the center of Hudson Street, free of traffic, as a woman crosses in New York, on Sunday, March 22, 2020. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)
Nearly-empty roads lead towards the High Bridge, the city’s oldest standing bridge, illuminated in the background at dusk in the Bronx borough of New York, on Tuesday, March 31, 2020. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)
The Manhattan skyline is shrouded in low hanging clouds as the Brooklyn Bridge Park piers stand in the foreground in the Brooklyn borough of New York, on Sunday, March 29, 2020. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)
A construction worker in protective equipment and a face mask watches for traffic as he crosses the street in the Brooklyn borough of New York, on Sunday, March 29, 2020. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)
A man pulls a shopping cart filled with his belongings as he walks down an empty street in New York, on Wednesday, March 25, 2020. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)
A couple walks in front of shuttered shops in the Chinatown in the Brooklyn borough of New York, on Tuesday, March 24, 2020. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)
A woman wearing a face mask waits to cross the street in the East Village neighborhood of New York, on Thursday, March 26, 2020. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)
A man stands next to a freeway exit as a cyclist rides past in the Bronx borough of New York, on Tuesday, March 31, 2020. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)
A woman with a face mask walks past a mural in the Brooklyn borough of New York, on Friday, March 27, 2020. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)
A man sits on the ledge of a freeway in the Queens borough of New York, on Thursday, April 2, 2020. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)
A man wearing a face mask waits at a crosswalk while an electronic sign in front of a Catholic church flashes a message in Spanish which reads, “Our faith is greater than our fear” in the Brooklyn borough of New York, on Wednesday, March 25, 2020. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)
Empty taxis are parked in front of a garage in the Brooklyn borough of New York, on Thursday, April 2, 2020. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)
An ambulance from The Brooklyn Hospital Center speeds through the Boerum Hill neighborhood in the Brooklyn borough of New York, on Thursday, March 26, 2020. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)
A mechanical coin-operated horse ride for children stands in front of a row of shuttered shops in the Queens borough of New York, on Sunday, March 29, 2020. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)
People cross the street in the Queens borough of New York, on Tuesday, March 31, 2020. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)
A subway train approaches the 9th and Smith Street station near an illuminated convenience store at dusk in the Brooklyn borough of New York, on Saturday, March 21, 2020. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)
Condensation from liquid oxygen tanks fogs the corner of the Elmhurst Hospital Center in the Queens borough of New York, on Sunday, March 29, 2020. The hospital has dedicated most of its operations to caring for COVID-19 patients. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)
Lights illuminate a gas station on a dark and empty street in the Brooklyn borough of New York, on Thursday, March 26, 2020. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)
Several men wearing masks wait under an overpass in the Queens borough of New York, on Sunday, March 29, 2020. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)
The Brooklyn bridge is lit against the dusk sky in the Brooklyn borough of New York, on Tuesday, March 31, 2020. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)

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