Above ground the scene is no less eerie: No honking horns or screams from sprinting commuters trying to flag down the Circulator bus. In what seven months ago would have seemed a suspension of the laws of physics and urban planning, jaywalking is possible at the corner of New York Avenue and 15th Street NW.
From Los Angeles and Chicago to Boston and New York, central business districts find themselves deserted in the seventh month of a pandemic that has killed more than 200,000 Americans and left millions unemployed. And as hopes of a quick recovery sputter, fear is rising that a long-term collapse of downtown economies could soon become irreversible.
In downtown Washington, formerly a textbook case of a reborn city center, the coronavirus has flatlined almost every measure of vitality. About 95 percent of downtown’s 167,000 office workers — a mix of federal employees, lawyers, lobbyists, consultants, advocates