PHOTOS BY TODD MAISEL
Costumed characters wait for customers in Times Square.
Nobody seems to want to take a double-decker bus tour of New York amid
Coronavirus empties ‘Crossroads of the World’
BY TODD MAISEL
The lights went out on Broadway
this past Thursday because of
new crowd capacity rules
in place to combat the spread of
coronavirus. The shutdown had
a ripple effect on all those who
depend on the tourists and local
crowds who visit the area and
spend their money.
Some of those especially affected
are the restaurants, bus
tour companies and their runners,
costumed characters awaiting a tip
from those wanting to take a photo.
Cab drivers are also in the dumps as few
people are riding to the area, and less to
Even the homeless who beg for a meager
living ask “Can you spare a buck?” — but
received fewer answers.
The coronavirus has virtually scared off
most of the normal crowds to the Times
Square area, with an untold number of
people dependent on income from the
neighborhood facing economic ruin.
Martin Clarke was trying to entice tourists
to take a ride on his double-decker bus. But
The Naked Cowboy won’t
let anything stop him from
bringing joy to passers by.
there were few takers.
“There’s just nobody out here – I
don’t know what is going to happen
if this keeps up,” Clarke said.
“I’m out here in the cold trying to get
people to take tours, and there is just
nobody who wants to go.”
Julie Metz sat in Times Square sipping a
cup of coffee by herself.
“It’s kind of nice to have the place to
myself, but it’s for the wrong reason –
that’s so sad,” she said.
Costumed characters were doing
their best to stir up business, but
there were few takers on a day that
should’ve been brisk for business,
rather than from the cold wind.
“I’m out here since this morning,
and I’ve made a dollar or two
the whole day,” said Minnie Mouse,
joined by Cookie Monster. “There
just isn’t many people out here. We
might as well go home, but I have to try,
Mohammed Ullah, a cabbie for 15
years, sat in his car, no fares to
because I have bills to pay.”
The infamous Naked Cowboy was playing
his guitar is his regular skivvies and
took a photo with one young woman – no
“If I’m out here saying the world is going
to win, and it doesn’t then I lose,”said the
Naked Cowboy. But I’m taking a gamble on
Lord God Jesus Christ and that everyone
will stay positive. I believe in life. I believe
it’s all going to work out.”
Standing next to him was a man identifi
ed as Mark, who was standing with
a sign saying “Don’t be afraid, put your
Ronnie G. says he’s fallen on even
trust in Jesus.” Few heard his Sunday street
“My message, I don’t believe in
crisis, I believe in Christ and the
word of God is powerful,” he
Mohammed Ullah, a cabbie
for 15 years sat in his car with
no fares and no prospects on
West 46th Street.
“It’s very sad, the city is very afraid
– empty, since 7 o’clock, I didn’t even
make 20 dollars, but my cost is $100 –
maybe I just go home,” sighed Ullah, an
immigrant to this country 24 years earlier.
“I like driving, many good people, nice
people, but now we have a mess,” Ullah
A homeless man named Ronnie G, 48,
who lives in a shelter in Brooklyn, held
his sign on 6th Avenue trying to get a few
dollars to survive. He said he was supposed
to go to church this morning.
“I tried to go to church in Long Island
City, and they come to with the BRC van
(Bowery Residents Committee) to go to the
Rock Church – they buy us a coffee, then
buy us a pizza,” Ronnie G said. “Today,
they didn’t even show up – they cancelled
church. How do you do that in America?
The Times Square plaza was empty.
Schneps Media March 19, 2020 15