New York Pedestrian Traffic Dramatically Lower Than Before Pandemic

A recent survey found that foot traffic in parts of New York City is considerably lower than prior to the coronavirus pandemic. The decline in pedestrian traffic also highlights wider economic and crime issues facing the Big Apple in recent years.

According to a study by the University of Toronto, New York faced one of the worst recoveries after the pandemic of any major city in the United States or Canada. While some cities, such as Las Vegas, have largely recovered or have seen a growth in foot traffic, other cities are struggling.

New York, meanwhile, ranks 54th of the cities studied.

The university utilized cell phone data to determine the number of people walking in each city. The comparison was made between March to June 2019 compared to the same period in 2023.

Overall, New York City saw a recovery of just two-thirds of where it had been before the pandemic. A university representative said that this was in part due to a shift toward remote work, rather than being in an office every day.

As New York struggled, there was a general trend in which cities within traditionally Republican states recovered more completely than their Democratic state peers. Chicago, Seattle and Minneapolis each struggled to recover, with foot traffic below that of New York.

Meanwhile, Miami, Nashville and Atlanta all scored a significant recovery.

San Francisco, which has also struggled with a high cost of living and crime rate, had a similar foot traffic recovery rate.

Similar to other large cities, New York City has faced a significant increase in crime since the start of the pandemic and the 2020 George Floyd riots. Some high-profile thefts and attacks in the subway system have played a role in depressing the number of New York Police Department (NYPD) officers and economic activity in the metro area.

Data from last month also showed that New York struggled to recover many of the jobs lost due to the pandemic, especially in the hotel industry. Overall, hospitality jobs are down about 20,000 from where they were in 2019.