Even though the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic will likely be felt for months — if not years — to come, the deserted streets following complete city lockdowns this spring are already a fading memory.

The Montparnasse Tower in Paris — the city’s most spectacular 360 degree viewpoint — is hosting a very special charity event called “New Beginnings,” showcasing photographs of streetscapes taken during the lockdown in Berlin, Paris, Philadelphia, Chicago, and Rotterdam.

From an empty Brandenburg Gate, to deserted terraces in Paris, to mask-wearing lion statues at the Art Institute of Chicago, these striking photos depict huge cities in ways that few have ever seen them… and display them in one of France’s most visit-worthy attractions. 

It was a strange time for many of the world’s most populous cities. Since as long as we can remember, the way people flock to and interact with these places has become a part of the identity of the cities and attractions themselves. 

But for a brief moment in time, almost like a Hollywood film, the selfie-stick-wielding tourists and hoards of locals weaving in and out of the crowds disappeared overnight. The cities we’re so used to seeing teeming with people suddenly looked very different. 

And while the pandemic changed the face of the cities we know and love, it also prevented us from experiencing them in this new, often eerie way. 

If you’re in Paris, we strongly recommend a visit to the New Beginnings exhibition. And if you’re not, the images are available to buy and all proceeds go to CARE, a charity that works to provide a better life for millions of vulnerable people around the world.