‘New York is dead. Don’t come back’: Billboards mock those who left city amid pandemic

‘We’re totally fine without everyone else here’

Louise Hall
Thursday 28 January 2021 14:01
Billboards mock those who fled New York in first wave of pandemic, say ‘NY is dead, don’t come back’
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New billboards installed in Los Angeles are sending a stark message to those who fled to the city from New York amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The humorous billboard sitting high above Sunset Boulevard reads "New York is Dead. Don't come back.”

According to reports, the same message was flown high in the sky over Miami in a similar message to those who bailed on New York when it became the epicentre of the virus in May.

Photos reportedly showed people in South Beach stopping to stare and point at the banner overhead.

The installations were created by Williamsburg-based art collective The Locker Room NYC, who say the boards are a “love letter to those doubling down in New York and choosing to rebuild.”

“We had an idea to say to the New Yorkers who have left that ‘we’re doing OK without you,'” the collective’s founder, Samara Bliss, told The New York Post.

The phrase insisting the city’s demise comes from a swathe of debate at the height of the first wave of the pandemic as to whether the city was “dead forever” as a result of the crisis.

In rebuttal of the discussion, comedian Jerry Seinfeld wrote an op-ed for The New York Times titled: “So you think New York is Dead? (It’s Not).”

In May, a report by The Times suggested that nearly 420,000 New York City residents fled the city amidst the coronavirus pandemic, with most of the departures being the city’s more affluent residents.

According to the newspaper’s analysis of aggregated smartphone location data the residential population decreased by 40 per cent or more in the city’s wealthiest neighbourhoods.

"We joke in our art collective that New York has trimmed the fat … it’s just the real, gritty New Yorkers that are left here,” Ms Bliss said.

“We’re totally fine without everyone else here.”

The installation will take place across Los Angeles, Miami and New York - on the streets, in the air, and underground, according to Graham Fortgang.

New York City has recorded 585,000 cases of the novel coronavirus disease since the pandemic gripped the US in March, leading to the deaths of 26,000.

On Wednesday, Gov Andrew Cuomo lifted restrictions in most hot spots across New York state, declaring an end to the post-holiday surge in Covid-19 cases and hospitalisations.

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