What the World Looks Like on Lockdown: Webcams at Popular Tourist Spots
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE
It might be eerie, but it's also fascinating. Maybe even a little comforting too.
By Barbara Fletcher
When in your life have you ever seen this: New York’s iconic Times Square devoid of traffic, except for a few cars and a handful of people. But that’s what the famous landmark looks like these days as people practice social and physical distancing.
People tend to tune into webcams in popular cities when they’re making holiday plans, want to soak in an exotic location or to watch major events taking place. But in the age of the coronavirus, these webcams are a window into worlds that have (surreally) stopped.
It’s a bit eerie seeing empty beaches, abandoned squares and popular attractions without a soul in sight. But watching these cams might calm down that Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) –– and maybe bring some comfort knowing that many people around the globe are definitely staying home.
Here are some of the best webcams you can watch around the world. In many cases, you can zoom in, choose a different view or listen in to live sound (which might just be the sound of silence).
One thing is for certain: People are staying away from typically crowded beaches. On the Santa Monica Pier, the amusements have stopped and there’s barely a sunbather in sight. The webcam of Pacific Park offers multiple views of the pier, beach and the Pacific Coast Highway. It’s a similar story at Miami Beach, where the sandy shores are practically deserted.
Around the world, you can check out the famous sandy hot spots of Bondi Beach in Australia (which, until as recently as March 20 was crowded with beachgoers) and Karon Beach, Phuket, Thailand. Take a virtual gander at the sandbank of Pwani Mchangani in Zanzibar, the Playa Las Flores in El Cuco in El Salvador, or the breathtaking blue sea at Turks and Caicos Islands, the white sand pristine and void of people. Perhaps one of the more striking views is the Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro, where along its two-mile sandy stretch, you now see only an occasional jogger.
Popular Tourist Spots
Across the U.S., tourist meccas like Times Square and the Las Vegas Strip are extremely quiet. And there’s not a tourist or Spider-Man in sight on Hollywood Boulevard. Up north, you can check out Niagara Falls, where only essential businesses are open or Toronto’s CN Tower cam that offers a live high-definition stream from above the (currently closed) attractions and the city streets.
When it comes to Europe, Italy has a plethora of live webcams. You can check in on everywhere from the Trevi Fountain in Rome to the Piazza della Signoria in Florence to the Rialto Bridge in Venice. These normally bustling destinations are pretty much empty –– it can be unnerving, but perhaps it’s a chance to marvel at some of the extraordinary Baroque and Venetian architecture without distraction, from the comfort of your living room.
There’s also an Eiffel Tower cam and a livestream view of Abbey Road (London). Traffic on the normally busy thoroughfare has been so quiet that road crews were recently able to repaint the lines on the pedestrian “zebra” crossing –– a significant touch-up as it’s a site of national importance (The Beatles connection) that requires special permission for any maintenance.
To get a sense of what social distancing looks like around the world, there are tons of city-based webcams to pick from. Check out what it looks like in Atlanta or Houston or Bourbon Street in New Orleans.
Or see some of the famous squares around the world from Prague to Cusco and from Bruges to Mexico City. Then there’s Leopoldsplatz in Baden-Baden, Germany and the Puerta del Sol in the heart of Madrid. Visit Sydney or Tokyo –– the options are many.
You can find pretty much any destination on sites like EarthCam and Skyline Webcams, but there are also dedicated cams run by parks, cities and also private businesses like resort hotels. Where you won’t find many options: most of Africa, India and China.
Have a favorite travel destination or cityscape webcam to recommend? Leave it in the comments below.
- Barbara Fletcher, OZY Author Contact Barbara Fletcher