10 Stories From 2020 That Show The Incredible Strength & Community In NYC

Claire Leaden Claire Leaden

10 Stories From 2020 That Show The Incredible Strength & Community In NYC

There’s nobody quite like New Yorkers.

And there’s nothing quite like the New York spirit! Even through all the trials and tribulations of 2020, New Yorkers came together like never before.

As we reflect back on this past year, and of course take time to acknowledge the losses and the heartache, we are also remembering all of the truly special moments that made us proud to live in the greatest city on Earth.

Here are the most impactful moments of 2020 we will always remember…what are yours?

In 2020, New Yorkers…

1. Cheered & Applauded for Essential Workers

When NYC was in the thick of the pandemic, with medical staff working around the clock, neighborhoods took it upon themselves to continue the tradition of thanking all its essential workers with a round of applause every evening at 7pm, right when most healthcare workers were switching shifts. These videos from all around the city will surely bring a tear to your eye! It’s such a simple gesture but one that really showed how much we appreciated all they did (and are still doing) for our city.

2. Made Thousands of Much-Needed Face Masks and Shields

Instagram / @nycmayorsoffice

Today Brooklyn Navy Yard houses over 500 businesses, but it has a rich history of being a vital factory during WWII. And this winter and spring, history repeated itself. Different companies that are housed in the Navy Yard joined forces to use their skills and materials to help fight a new war: coronavirus. Multiple different companies based there completely changed their businesses to make needed items like hospital gowns and face masks for healthcare workers during one of our most trying times.

3. Made Sure Their Neighbors Were Fed

Instagram / @universecitynyc

This community fridge in Bed-Stuy popped up to help food insecure New Yorkers in May (which increased rapidly with pandemic-related job loss and closures), and now it seems to be a trend that has followed in other NYC communities. Volunteers refill the fridges, and anyone can take what they need, free of charge or stigma.

4. Put Rainbows in Their Windows

Brooklynites lifted spirits in a particularly sweet way: by putting rainbows in their windows! The “Rainbow Connection” first began as a way to entertain children on daily walks, according to Buzzfeed, since they couldn’t see their friends or go out to playgrounds anymore. Neighbors started putting rainbows in their windows, whether in the form of drawings, paintings, etc., so children could try to spot as many as they could while out and about. It became a tradition for anyone wanting a spot of brightness in their day!

5. United To Fight Against Racial Injustice


When Minnesota father George Floyd was brutally killed by police officers in May, it sparked a nation-wide outcry of protest…giving way to an open acknowledgement of the deeply dangerous racial inequalities that are still embedded in the U.S., and the privileges many of us must account for. Like thousands across the country, New Yorkers joined together to march for equality and to say, loud and clear, that Black Lives Matter, and justice must be served.

New Yorkers continued making their voices heard[/trackLink] as other accounts of police brutality revealed themselves over the year — and surely will continue to do so.

See: Pride Month And Black Lives Matter Join Forces At NYC’s Stonewall InnA Street In Every NYC Borough Will Be Renamed And Painted ‘Black Lives Matter’ This Brooklyn Artist Creates Emotional Portraits Of Black Lives Lost To Police Brutality / See 15,000 New Yorkers March In Brooklyn For Black Trans Lives

6. Got Creative to Make Sure the Arts Stayed Alive

Courtesy Times Square Alliance

From Broadway dancers performing in Times Square (with face masks on) each week, to fire escape and socially distant concerts, to beautiful art murals going up across the city, New Yorkers didn’t let lockdown or a pandemic kill their artistic spirit.

And now — that will continue through 2021 with the new “Open Culture Program” starting up in March, which will allow performances in streets and plazas.

7. Cooked & Provided Meals For First Responders

Instagram / @elevenmadisonpark

Eleven Madison Park is known for its unparalleled fine dining in NYC (which can cost over $300 per person), but during the height of the pandemic they turned their industrial kitchen into something much different. They partnered with Rethink Food NYC, a non-profit organization “working to recover nutritious excess food to provide low or no-cost meals to New York City families in need,” along with American Express, to cook meals for both medical workers fighting the virus and for New Yorkers in need of food.

Also, Sauce Pizzeria Delivered Over 250 Pizzas Each Day To Hospitals & First Responders!

8. Kept Romance & Love Alive

Ona lighter note, some people didn’t let quarantine kill the romance! When this New Yorker noticed a cute neighbor, for example, he decided to ask her out, following all the recommended safety rules of course. He shared his whole story via Instagram (in different parts) and it’s pretty amazing how he was able to keep the same dating norms while isolated, he just had to get a little creative.

This couple also had an adorable, socially-distant New Yorker wedding from the New York streets.

9. Connected With Neighbors Through Music

Though most questioned if New Yorkers could really be as festive as Italy, singing out on their balconies during lockdown (just see Trevor Noah’s take?!), one Morningside Heights community did! Gretchen Connelie shared videos of the residents of her building in Morningside Heights all leaning out their windows to sing different songs, which she said has continued every evening at 7pm.

Oh, and don’t forget the “New York, New York” singalong!

10. Looked Out for the Most Vulnerable Among Us

Instagram / @BackpacksfortheStreet

At the start of the pandemic, two New York college students named Liam Elkind and Simone Policano were able to recruit 1,300 volunteers in 72 hours to help to bring groceries, medicine, plus some socialization and a cheery face to older New Yorkers stuck indoors. They are calling the group “Invisible Hands,” and you can (still) sign up to volunteer or request deliveries on their website here.

Similarly, Backpacks for the Streets has been looking out for another vulnerable group: the homeless. They have handed out more than 10,000 backpacks with essential supplies, 200 gallons of hand sanitizer and 18,000 masks to New Yorkers in need since the start of the pandemic on March 13, always making sure to not just leave items but engage in a meaningful conversation with the person. Read more about them here.

featured image source: Shutterstock

See also: 10 NYC Businesses Where You Can #ShopLocal For Last-Minute Holiday Gifts

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