The Endurance of 161

My neighborhood is the cheering coming from the Yankee Stadium, the 4 train clacking by every ten minutes, the sweet smell of “Nuts 4 Nuts,” and the multiple courthouses with men in suits walking to their 9-to-5. My neighborhood is the men who sit on the corner trying to get to their next check from the youth. The joyful noise of little kids in the park playing with water balloons, the food stands selling corn or toys in the park just up on 161st street. This was my life before the pandemic. During 2020, the worst happened. COVID-19 came and closed down my once active neighborhood. The people I once saw everyday are now strangers to me.

It's February 2020, and the streets are silent. “A ghost town,” is what my grandma would always say. I wondered when it would be over—I thought I would be stuck in my house forever. But I was lucky, because at that time I just got my puppy, which gave me a reason to go outside. We would go around our neighborhood, with a mask, gloves, and my winter jacket, to see how vacant my once vibrant streets had become. It was cold and scary seeing my formerly dynamic community gone, the smells and sounds I was so used to now missing. March goes by then, in April, the snow slowly melts and the blossoms start blooming. As it began to get warmer, my family and I would have picnics and I’d do my school work outside. For the first time I could see my neighbors come out of their homes like butterflies out of their cocoons. The summer is hot and the CDC is letting our stores and restaurants open once again. People smile. The sky is blue and the food stands are out again. The sprinklers on, children laughing. I imagine summer slowly coming to an end as school will creep up on us again. The cold feeling returns, the leaves are red, brown, and yellow and our once ghost town is now active again. People found their normalcy and had hope again as the vaccine was distributed in early spring. 

A view of the corner of my building. May 2021.

Looking through the alleyway. May 2021.

Father and son holding hands. May 2021.

Sunset on the highway. May 2021.

161st Street train sign. May 2021.

Woman waiting for a bus. Bronx, NY. April 2021.

Man watching a ball game. May 2021.

A chalk sign on a building wall that reads, “Be safe. Corona is still around.” Bronx, NY. May 2021.

People relaxing in a park. Bronx, NY. May 2021.

People playing jump rope at a park. Bronx, NY. May 2020.

Empty roads on a late afternoon evening. Bronx, NY. May 2021.

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