Heading into 2020, the electricity in New York apartments could have run entirely on shared hopes that a new year—and a whole new decade—would be filled with opportunity, good health and dreams realized. Although not everyone was in a position to have great optimism, we could all wish for a clear path through the unknown.

Now, even as that simple hope feels like a distant memory, many New Yorkers still can’t imagine dreaming of another skyline. The cautious optimism we carry today is rooted in the strength and kindness of neighbors. With vaccines bringing a glimmer of stability on the horizon, we must decide which parts of the abnormal we’ll carry into the future.

New York City might never be the same, but there are people working hard to make it better.

The pandemic has left a hole in the heart of our city. We’ve lost upwards of 25,000 loved ones to COVID-19. A third of the city’s small businesses may never be back. 

Yet one constant remains: When faced with the bleakest of nights, New Yorkers always learn to see in the dark.

This project shines a light on how they are innovating and adapting, focusing on the people determined to explore what comes next as they help rebuild the city they love.

We found countless reasons to be hopeful for what’s to come.

Neighbors expanding mutual-aid efforts through community fridges and innovative urban planning. Organizations helping kids learn about music at a distance and others connecting to elderly folks to guard against isolation. Business people and artists finding innovative ways to serve their audiences, in body, mind and spirit.

Click on the sections below to explore the Next New York.

 —May Olvera

New York City residents Lost to COVID-19

As only New Yorkers know, if you can get through the twilight, you’ll live through the night.
Dorothy Parker




Olivia Bensimon
Jo Constantz
Anna Deen
Radhamely DeLeon
Sahalie Donaldson
Keith Medelis
Emily Nadal
Anny Oberlink
Harry Parker
Zachary Smith
Mary Steffenhagen
Mariah Thomas
Smranda Tolosano


Bryce Buyakie
Matthew Euzarraga
Sarah Gabrielli
Ali McPherson
May Olvera
Madison Ruffo
Steven Vago

Video producer

Sophia Lebowitz

Site Photographer

Benjamin Chambers shot the interstitial images of New York City street scenes featured on the section fronts.

Faculty Advisers

Next New York was produced by students at the Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY‘s NYCity News Service under the guidance of Judith Watson, John Mancini and Christine McKenna.