Arts & Design

What Does It Look Like When a City Returns to Its Senses?

The reopening of New York has created a banquet of sights, smells, flavors, textures and sounds. The New York Times asked photographers to convey how the city is nourishing each of the senses.

Jolie Ruben and


OK McCausland sought to capture taste. “There’s that moment everyone feels when they’re about to indulge in something they love. I was looking for that moment,” she said — like a group about to dive into a trough of popcorn at a Mets game, or a cut of meat just as it’s being devoured at Katz’s Delicatessen in Manhattan.


Tess Ayano crisscrossed New York for a week in search of touch. “I was looking for moments and vignettes you can only find when you’re part of the city,” Ayano said, like the little boy who paused to greet her in Chinatown or strangers breaking the ice over their dogs in Washington Square Park. “Even if there is no physical touch, there was still possibility for connection.”


Dane Manary set out to illustrate vision, finding as much in the goings-on of a barber shop in the Upper East Side of Manhattan as from the vantage of the Empire State Building observatory. He also found something else: a sense of longing — the kind of watching done from a distance. “You want to go out and see what there is to see, but there is also an emptiness and a little bit of darkness to it,” he said.


Gabriela Bhaskar, a photo fellow for The Times, walked around New York City attuned to scent — and the memories it so often summons, like the familiar odor of the day before trash pickup in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, or the aromas that billow from the roasted nut carts in Harlem. “I can’t move around the city without having my mind activated with smells. What am I noticing?” Bhaskar said.


New York is awash in noise. McCausland kept her ears peeled above the clatter for “sounds that draw you in,” she said, whether it’s the shouted arguments of a demolition clean-up crew, a raucous game of pick-up basketball or an impromptu mother-daughter karaoke duet. “The environment is so stimulating already,” McCausland said. “You’re everywhere, all the time, all at once.”


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