Silent LA: A Visual Diary Of A City In The Time of Social Distancing

The roads are eerily open. This is morning rush hour on March 19. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)

March came hard for Los Angeles. COVID-19 was spreading across the region, and local officials started closing things down to slow the spread. Bars, movie theaters, and restaurants were the first to go. Employees who could work from home were encouraged to, and students had their classes moved online.

Then came the stay-at-home orders, first locally, followed closely by the state. Leaving home was — and is —now restricted to essential workers going to essential jobs, and people getting essential supplies and services, like groceries and medicine.

Los Angeles looks wildly different. Traffic is light, the skies are clear, and a new, surreal silence is sometimes only disturbed by the sound of crickets. Actual crickets. .

News is considered an essential job under the orders, So I ventured out to document what it looks like when most of L.A. stays home.

Here's what it looks like:

(Chava Sanchez/LAist)

Chinatown Central Plaza at 7pm on Friday March 20th. Restaurants in Chinatown were among the first to be hit by what has quickly become an industry-wide crisis.

(Chava Sanchez/LAist)

Not a selfie-taker in sight at LACMA's "Urban Light" installation.

(Chava Sanchez/LAist)

Music festivals, concerts, performances across Los Angeles have been cancelled including those at the Walt Disney Concert Hall.

(Chava Sanchez/ LAist)

Well wishes from The Wiltern. The Wiltern has postponed events until April as measures are put in place across California to slow spread of COVID-19.

(Chava Sanchez/LAist)

A solitary pedestrian walks past the closed gates of the Pantages theater. Performances of Hamilton at the Pantages have been temporarily cancelled.

(Chava Sanchez/LAist)

On almost any night you can see throngs of noisy tourists bustling around Hollywood. Very few people where out on this particular friday night.

(Chava Sanchez/LAist)

Olvera street's shops are shuttered on a weekend afternoon. The rain adds to the hard-to-describe mood.

(Chava Sanchez/LAist)

No shopping being done at Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills.

(Chava Sanchez/ LAist)

Santa Monica Pier is gated up and closed to the public as Governor Newsom orders Californians to stay at home.

(Chava Sanchez/LAist)

Many of Grand Central Market's restaurants are closed, and those that remain open are take-out only. People were social distancing as required, and security guards at the entrances limited the number of people inside.

(Chava Sanchez/LAist)

Chairs up on tables have quickly become a familiar sight. All restaurants in Los Angeles have been ordered to close their dining rooms.

(Chava Sanchez/LAist)

California Pizza Kitchen at the Fig at 7th shopping center in downtown Los Angeles.

(Chava Sanchez/LAist)

The Santee Alleys in Los Angeles's Fashion district are usually open every day of the year, but most shops have closed as stay at home policies are implemented.

(Chava Sanchez/LAist)

A bust models a full face mask next to a sign that reads "avoid COVID-19 Mask" in the Downtown Los Angeles's Fashion District. The only people out and about are street vendors selling face masks, toilet paper, and gloves to anyone driving by.

(Chava Sanchez/ LAist)

A street vendor selling face masks for $5 a piece tries to get the attention of passing cars in Los Angeles's Fashion District.

(Chava Sanchez/LAist)

City Hall at evening rush hour.

(Chava Sanchez/LAist)

Shuttered shops at Venice's Boardwalk.

(Chava Sanchez/LAist)

Muscle beach on a Sunday morning minus it's usual muscle-bound crowds and spectators. Gyms across the state have been deemed as non-essential and have closed to slow the spread of COVID-19.

(Chava Sanchez/LAist)

People wearing masks has become the norm on Metro trains.

(Chava Sanchez/LAist)

This group of women used scarves as makeshift facemasks.

(Chava Sanchez/ LAist)

Some took it an extra step like this man wearing a full face gas mask.

(Chava Sanchez/ LAist)

Empty entrance to the Metro Red and Purple line at Union Station during afternoon rush hour on monday March 23, 2020.

(Chava Sanchez/ LAist)

Guards stand by checking to make sure that only ticketed passengers or those carrying valid TAP cards enter the passageway to Union Station West.

(Chava Sanchez/ LAist)

A solitary passenger walks towards Union Station west during what is usually rush hour on March 23, 2020.

(Chava Sanchez/ LAist)

A notice to passengers about modified schedules due to COVID-19 at Pershing Square Station.

(Chava Sanchez/LAist)

This is what Metro stations look like most days. The state ordered Californians to stay home and metro ridership has plummeted.

(Chava Sanchez/LAist)

Empty Stairway into the 7th street Metro Hub during afternoon rush hour on thursday March 19.

(Chava Sanchez/LAist)

The intersection of the 110 and 101 freeways.

There's also a video with drone footage of our giant, quiet city.


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