New York versus Barcelona. Pandemic and Cities

by | May 14, 2021 | collaborations, New York, travel

On May 9, on the occasion of Jane’s Walk 2021, we hosted a live walking tour through New York and Barcelona, simultaneously!

The objective was to explore how the pandemic is transforming our cities, with the emergence of two similar programs:

Obrim Carrers in Barcelona – Open Streets in New York.

From Barcelona, ​​Elvira Pujol and Joan Vila Puig, an artist collective and founders of Sitesize, guided us through the neighborhood of Sants. At the same time, the Catalan architect Rafael de Balanzó, founder of Urban Resilience Thinking Design, and myself (Helena Ariza) were at the Lower East Side of New York, also known as Loisaida.

[Thank you so much to Fèlix de Balanzó. He gave us technical support from Loisaida and run the chat during the whole event, besides translating!]

These were the tours:

Besides having a great time, we learned a lot.

Not only did people from Barcelona or New York join us, but also from other cities around the world. Even from Mexico and Toronto!


Do you want to know more about the tour?

You should watch the video recording!

Here you have a short summary. These are 5 points we analyzed during the tour, comparing the situation between Barcelona and New York.

NYC Vs Barcelona: How the Pandemic is Transforming Our Cities


1. Negative impacts of the pandemic in our cities

Business closures, exodus from the city to the suburbs or “countryside”, less use of public transport and an increase of private cars…

2. Positive changes in the city due to the pandemic

More use of the bicycle as a means of transport, outdoor restaurant terraces using parking slots (and alcohol is allowed on NYC streets!), Carrers Oberts / Open Streets program gives priority to the pedestrian over cars.

Operating hours, access control, how people use them, number of conversions in each city, comparison with Superilles in Barcelona… Is it a temporary or a permanent measure?

4. We got to know the areas of Sants and Loisaida

Popular neighborhoods currently undergoing a gentrification process. In both cases, the high density of these neighborhoods and the desire to defend their rights created a need to develop strong neighborhood associations.

How are these communities organized? On the tour we explore how they have dealt with the lack of public space and green areas, with the implementation of urban and community gardens. We also saw how they organize scheduled activities, and free events!

5. Last thoughts

We wonder if the pandemic has triggered a transformation of the city, where from now on people and his quality of life will be the main focus.

¿What do you think?

We can’t wait to hear from you!

We hope you enjoy this virtual tour as much as we did. If you have any questions, we’ll be happy to respond you in the comments below.

If you want to join the next live tour, subscribe here and we will notify you :).


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Helena Ariza | Architect, passionate about photography and traveling. My purpose is to take you on a journey to the best architectural works.



New York Architecture Guide 7+3