Empty America – Envisioning Major Cities Without People

One of the major complaints you always hear from people living in big cities is that there are just too many people. Too many tourists walk too slowly and take up too much space on the sidewalk. If you live in New York City, however, you probably recently saw your city in a whole new light, as it emptied of people right before, and after, Hurricane Sandy. Our thoughts and well-wishes are with everyone who was in some way affected by this natural disaster as we hope for a swift recovery.

In the meantime, feast your eyes on Empty America, a timelapse travel series created by culture and entertainment site Thrash Lab and directed by Ross Ching, showing iconic landmarks in various cities in America without all the people. The videos provide the perfect opportunity to experience a major city, without all the clutter.

To me, it’s obvious that there is something missing. What would New York City be without New Yorkers? Only a shadow of it’s former self. Those well-dressed, hurried, sometimes awfully grumpy characters together form a moving urban fabric. I think anyone who has lived there would agree — if you are ever alone on a street in New York, there is something very wrong. Maybe that is why these short films make me sort of uneasy. But do, in their poetic simplicity, provide a new perspective on the cities we have come to love. Perhaps seeing them with new eyes will make us fall in love with these places all over again.

Wondering how Ching was able to shut off all those major streets to shoot these videos? Well, he didn’t, it’s just some good old editing magic. In this video, he shows you how it’s done. Also, watch this video for Ching’s thoughts on what makes a video go viral.

“Empty America” is a Thrash Lab Special directed by Ross Ching
Music made by David Adametz

About author
A designer by trade, Johanna has always had a passion for storytelling. Born and raised in Sweden, she's lived and worked in Miami, Brooklyn and, currently, Ojai, CA. She started Goodlifer in 2008 to offer a positive outlook for the future and share great stories, discoveries, thoughts, tips and reflections around her idea of the Good Life. Johanna loves kale, wishes she had a greener thumb, and thinks everything is just a tad bit better with champagne (or green juice).
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