ONE: Introduction

This series of four books explores the relationship between the COVID- 19 pandemic and a variety of inter- related economic, social, spatial, and racial inequalities that have come to characterize cities around the world in the twenty- first century. Each volume explores a different, yet connected topic within urban studies, geography, and planning. This volume examines divisions within urban communities and societies and discusses to what extent the pandemic has created new inequalities, or amplified existing ones?

During the first wave of lockdowns that quickly spread around the world, images of empty streets, stations, squares, highways, and markets presented a dramatic view of cities that constituted an immediate break from the pre- COVID- 19 era. Often juxtaposed beside images of the same spaces in far busier times, these photographs were almost entirely devoid of people who were otherwise hunkered down in their houses. They gave the impression that everything had changed and that life as we knew it had come to a standstill. They also gave hope of a return to normality, as once- busy places waited patiently for life to return back to the way it was (see The Guardian, 2020).

These images were, however, an overly simplistic, onedimensional representation of cities under lockdown. The reality, in most areas of urban life, was far more complex. Rather than everything changing, the first year of the COVID- 19 pandemic has also demonstrated that much has remained the same: the inequalities that characterized cities before the pandemic have been central to understanding both the unequal impacts of the virus on urban communities and the different ways in which the city has been experienced during the pandemic.

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