• George Stamets

Empty Streets of Leeds City Centre During the Lockdown, March-April 2020

Living at the edge of the city centre, it was of course a no-brainer to bring my camera along for some of my walks during the UK's COVID-19 lockdown, which began on Tuesday 24 March. Leeds has a relatively compact city centre ("downtown" as we say back home), which means it's typically bustling during the daytime hours. On an ordinary day, Leeds City Council says, more than 100,000 people work in the city centre. To see its streets so barren at the start of the lockdown, then, was legitimately surreal.

My first walk with a camera was during the evening of Monday 30 March. We started near Park Square and walked down Quebec Street toward the train station, then along Boar Lane. Heading over Leeds Bridge and down Dock Street, we took the Centenary Footbridge back across the river and ultimately to Briggate, at the heart of the shopping district. This route took us through what would normally be the busiest parts of town, even in the evening. But there was very little presence - only a handful of cyclists and walkers, and few vehicles other than delivery trucks and the occasional police van.

I headed out with a camera again just after 5:00pm on Friday 10 April, this time taking The Headrow to Millennium Square. The streets were still largely desolate, which was particularly striking at Millennium Square - what I presume is the largest open space in the city centre.

I grabbed the camera for a third time for a quick early evening walk to the train station on Thursday 23 April. By this point, a month into the lockdown, quite a few more people were returning to work and traffic had picked up considerably throughout the morning and afternoon. But the train station and surrounding streets, including Albion Street, were virtually empty by 7:30pm.

All of these photos, plus many more, can be seen in high-resolution in a Flickr album here.

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© 2020 George Stamets

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