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Empty Piccadilly Circus during London lockdown
Photograph: Andy Parsons

This New York Times photo-series of empty cities is breathtaking

Huw Oliver
Written by
Huw Oliver

Our go-to tumbleweed GIFs have found a very literal new usage over the past few weeks. From Berlin to Bangkok, our usually bustling city centres are now pretty much devoid of human life. And rather than actual tumbleweed, it’s spring leaves, blossom and the odd stray crisp packet that drift on by.

Although we’re starting to get used to this new socially distanced reality, we’re still not over how eerie it looks out there right now. So we felt almost profoundly moved when browsing the New York Times’ new photo series ‘The Great Empty’, which aims to capture life on lockdown in major cities the world over.

The newspaper sent 30 or so photographers out to major sights and attractions that have emptied out now more than a third of the world’s population – circa 3 billion of us – are under some form of lockdown restrictions. Taking in everything from a Moscow concert hall where a cellist plays to an empty auditorium to flocks of pigeons staking out Barcelona’s Las Ramblas, these are surreal photos for surreal times. And there’s something really quite serene about them, too.

Here’s to staying safe indoors until we can get out and explore all that spectacular scenery again soon.

Check out more beautiful photos of empty city streets around the world.

More things to do at home?

Tour the Great Barrier Reef with David Attenborough

Check out a classic Andrew Lloyd Webber musical

Stream a DJ set from one of Berlin’s coolest clubs

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