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COVID-19; coronavirus; economic development; New York city; urban design; public space; disaster recovery


The 2020 COVID-19 outbreak has caused significant disruption to economic and social systems. New York City, as the United States’ largest city and among the nation’s most densely populated, was an early epicenter of the crisis. Modifications to the design, planning and operations of the city’s public realm have been important components of the city’s overall response to mitigate the effects of the pandemic while also facilitating economic recovery and providing social, educational, and recreational opportunities for city residents. This commentary provides an overview of New York City’s urban design responses to COVID-19, highlighting some of the successes and limitations of the city’s programs. We conclude by arguing that, in order to be effective, short-term crisis response efforts such as these must eventually be turned into government policies that not only address immediate urgent crises but also begin to facilitate durable long-term recovery and address longstanding systemic inequalities and vulnerabilities.

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.



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