I’m a New Yorker who visited the Midwest for the first time. Here are 15 things that surprised me.

I’m a New Yorker who visited the Midwest for the first time. Here are 15 things that surprised me.

There’s an emptiness to the Midwest that I’m not used to as a New Yorker.

A completely empty subway station in Chicago.

Frank Olito/ Insider


As a resident of Brooklyn, I’ve quickly learned it’s nearly impossible to have a moment of solitude in this city. Everywhere you look, there are people no matter the time of day. There’s almost no such thing as an empty street in New York.

In the Midwestern cities I visited, that wasn’t the case. When I walked through Chicago, for example, there were some neighborhoods, especially downtown in the Loop, that seemed completely empty. Even some of the subway stations were deserted. It felt eerie and almost apocalyptic to be walking down city streets alone.

While the pandemic definitely plays a part in this, it’s important to note the vastly different population sizes. In Chicago, there are 2.6 million people, while in New York, there are over 8 million people in an area that’s only one-third larger. I definitely felt this difference on the streets during my trip.

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