Before-and-After: Satellite Images Show Coronavirus Impact

The pandemic has radically altered the movement of Americans as government-ordered shutdowns have forced people to stay home. The results can be found by comparing before and after photographs of once-busy locations.

California Bay Bridge

The San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge usually carries 260,000 vehicles a day between its namesake cities. Opened in 1936, it features one of the longest spans in the country and its newest section holds the world record for widest bridge. The toll for cars can be as much as $7. Annual toll collections amount to well over $200 million. (All photos courtesy of Planet Labs Inc.)

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February 19, 2020


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March 16, 2020


Chicago Musuem Campus

Some of Chicago’s most notable attractions sit within the Museum Campus, a 57-acre park along Lake Michigan. The Field Museum of Natural History and the Shedd Aquarium are a short walk from Soldier Field, home to the Bears and Chicago Fire soccer team. Situated on a man-made peninsula, the campus includes the Adler Planetarium, which lets visitors look back at the city skyline or up at the stars. But not for several weeks. All of the museums will be closed at least until early April. 

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February 19, 2020


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March 17, 2020


Hollywood Freeway

On the occasion of the Hollywood Freeway’s 40th anniversary in 1994, the Los Angeles Times proclaimed it “a telegenic mix of glamour, grit and gridlock. … Its route — through the movie capital of the world — assured it fame.” Just one year after it opened, the new road was clogged with 183,000 cars a day, twice what it was designed to carry. Bob Hope called it “the biggest parking lot in the world.” The widened freeway now typically carries 270,000 vehicles a day. But these days are not typical. 

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 February 6, 2020


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March 18, 2020


Las Vegas



Over 100,000 people a day visit Las Vegas. Seventy-three percent of them come to gamble, betting an average of $579 each. But the crowds have disappeared since the casinos were recently shut down for the first time since John F. Kennedy’s funeral in 1963. Closing the casinos will have an impact that reaches far beyond the glittering hotels. Gambling taxes are second only to sales tax as a percentage of the state’s budget. Nearby Hoover Dam is also closed, leaving the remaining tourists with even fewer options. 

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January 26, 2020


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March 17, 2020


Pinal County Airpark, Ariz.

On a normal day, there might be one takeoff or landing at Pinal Airpark in Arizona. The county-owned airfield 30 miles north of Tucson is the largest storage facility for commercial aircraft in the world. As flight schedules are cut back, a number of airlines are bringing their unused planes to this desert location where they will stay indefinitely, protected from corrosion by the dry climate. The facility has room for up to 400 aircraft, each of which will have to pay landing and storage fees to Pinal County.

 
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January 11, 2020


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March 17, 2020


Walt Disney World, Fla.

Florida’s Walt Disney World is the most popular vacation resort in the world, hosting more than 50 million visitors each year. Covering 43 square miles, the park is nearly as big as San Francisco and with 70,000 “cast members,” it is the biggest single-site employer in the United States. Disney World has closed only a handful of times since opening day in 1971, usually because of weather. All Disney locations will be shuttered at least through March with companywide losses projected to reach $1.4 billion.

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January 6, 2020


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March 18, 2020


 

David Kidd is a photojournalist and storyteller. He can be reached at dkidd@governing.com.