Eat in the Street

An outdoor dining setup on a tree-lined street outside the Sing-Sing Karaoke Lounge on St. Mark's in New York City's East Village during the pandemic, with lots of people eating, drinking and having fun, and a motorbike speeding past in the foreground
Eden, Janine and Jim from New York City [CC BY 2.0] via Wikimedia Commons

by David Moore

Some were just plywood sheds, others more bedazzled constructions. They were beloved, but they were too beautiful to last. The city government wants to see a huge SUV sitting there instead.

It looks like the end for most of the outdoor dining sheds that sprang up across New York City during the first year of the coronavirus pandemic. In 2020, with indoor dining shut down, some 12,000 of these ad-hoc structures popped up citywide—a “pandemic folk architecture,” as Folklife Specialist Nancy Groce put it in a Library of Congress blog—with decor ranging delightfully from “Italian patio” to “opium den.” Watching them multiply was like seeing NYC rediscover a DIY skill.

It’s a paywall, but a small one

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