Skip to content

Then and now: Washington becomes a ghost town amid coronavirus pandemic

Statuary Hall in the Capitol was packed as usual on State of the Union night on Feb. 4, 2020 (left). Now, it's a ghost-town (right).
Statuary Hall in the Capitol was packed as usual on State of the Union night on Feb. 4, 2020 (left). Now, it's a ghost-town (right). (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

Politics is an inherently social pursuit, and Washington, D.C., and Capitol Hill is the hub of our political world. But with the coronavirus pandemic dramatically curtailing our social interactions, the people and places we cover are now defined by absence.

The photographs that follow comprise our favorite photos of the recent past, and what those places look like now: Absence of baseball fans. Absence of senators, of representatives, of presidents, of vice presidents or deputy attorneys general. Absence of tourists, of fellow journalists, of staffers. Absence of the profound, of the silly. Absence of Jon Stewart. Absence of a giant stuffed moose.

Loading the player...

We know this won’t last forever. We will see our friends, our elected officials, our familiar again. But right now, our shared world is empty, and we wanted to bear witness to that, to show what we miss, and what we know we will see again.

The steps are now empty where fans packed in front of the the National Archives for the World Series champions parade along Constitution Avenue on Nov. 2, 2019 (left). (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
The Small Senate Rotunda by the Old Supreme Court Chamber was crowded with tourists taking photos on June 6, 2019. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
Vice President Mike Pence exits his Senate office in the Senate Reception Room as Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., conducts a meeting in the Capitol on July 10, 2018. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Reporters follow Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., into the Capitol from the Senate subway before the continuation of the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump on Jan. 31, 2020. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)
Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., staffers Scott Merrick, left, and Kevin Travaline move a stuffed bear into position next to a stuffed moose in the senator’s lobby on June 14, 2016. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
President Donald Trump makes remarks to the media in a now-empty corridor in the Capitol for a meeting on immigration with House Republicans on June 19, 2018. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., talks with reporters as he makes his way to the Senate floor for the continuation of the Trump impeachment trial on Jan. 31, 2020. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)
Vice President Mike Pence and Sen. Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa, lead the procession of senators through the Capitol Rotunda to the House chamber for the address to a joint session of Congress by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on April 3, 2019. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
Front row from left, Reps. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., Susan Davis, D-Calif., House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Anna Eshoo, D-Calif., and Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., wear black on on Jan. 30, 2018, during a photo op in the Capitol’s Rayburn Room to show solidarity with men and women who spoke out against sexual harassment and discrimination. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., talks to the press in the Senate subway before the Trump impeachment trial resumed on Jan. 22, 2020. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)
The now-vacant Ohio Clock Corridor was where former Daily Show host Jon Stewart was caught smirking as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., walked by on July 23, 2019. Stewart was in the Capitol pushing for the reauthorization of the Sept. 11 victim compensation fund. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call).
Reps. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, left, and Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., walked through the now-empty Cannon tunnel on their way to a vote on Nov. 15, 2019. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
House Intelligence Chairman Adam B. Schiff, D-Calif., walks down the stairs to the House Intelligence Committee in the Capitol on Oct. 2, 2019. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein arrives in the Capitol to brief all 100 senators on the firing of former FBI Director James Comey and the investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 campaign on May 18, 2017. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Recent Stories

In seeking justice by jury trials, Camp Lejeune veterans turn to Congress

Appropriations talks chug along; stopgap eyed as backup plan

At the Races: Run the World (Older Women)

As younger members of Congress leave, veteran members are trying to get back in

Technology Can Be the Real Game Changer in Corrections

Democrats ask insurers to meet contraceptive coverage mandate