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Messages of hope, gratitude and solidarity flood New York City

While the world continues to battle the coronavirus pandemic, messages of hope, solidarity and gratitude are radiating from Times Square in hard-hit New York City.

On Friday, Times Square Arts and Poster House released a collection of digital PSAs to light up the streets and lives of New Yorkers.

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PSA by Maira Kalman Photo by Ian Douglas

"This citywide PSA campaign is an incredible opportunity for artists to communicate the pride and overwhelming gratitude we all feel for our health care and essential workers," said Jean Cooney, Times Square Arts Director. 

Instead of displaying advertising, giant electronic billboards and kiosks around the city are being filled with messages that reflect the sentiments of millions of people across New York and around the world.

"As it has so often in the past during moments of crisis or celebration, Times Square will channel the spirit of the city to the country and to the world," said Times Square Alliance President Tim Tompkins.

Artist Maira Kalman's PSA illustration, seen above, illuminates the crossroads of the world. She told CBS News that she wanted to share a positive message in a time of anxiety. 

"There is nothing more important than love. We can love from a distance," Kalman said.

Although New York City residents are under stay-at-home orders and Times Square is eerily quiet, the project's organizers hope the campaign will reach New York's essential workers — especially those on the front lines such as doctors and nurses, delivery people, grocery store clerks and everyone else whose work is sustaining the city

For his piece, Paul Sahre drew inspiration from an iconic phrase that is used to inspire resilience and solidarity:

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Paul Sahre

""United We Stand, Divided We Fall" has been invoked during times of national emergencies dating back to the American Revolution to inspire unity, collaboration and teamwork," Sahre told CBS News. "America is more divided now than it's has been since the Vietnam War. The poster points out the irony that in this national emergency, we have to stand together by literally remaining apart."
 
While there has been a drive to unite during the coronavirus crisis, the unprecedented situation has also fueled division. Many communities have seen incidents of prejudice and violence against people of Asian descent. So design partners Strick & Williams used the PSA as an opportunity to bring awareness to problem.

"We're very troubled by the rise in xenophobia over the world as a knee-jerk response to the spread of the virus which originated in China and wanted to create a poster that reminds us all to remember our shared humanity," Charlotte Strick told CBS News. "This inspiring lyric by singer-songwriter and pacifist Bob Marley, 'Before you point fingers, be sure your hands are clean,' seemed the perfect fortune and reminder for this troubling time."

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Two PSAs by Strick & Williams Strick & Williams

A number of other contemporary artists and graphic designers contributed original posters that will be displayed on 1,800 billboards and kiosks across the city. See more of their designs below.

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Debbie Millman
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Joe Hollier
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Edel Rodriguez
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Matt Dorfman
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Emily Oberman
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Emily Oberman
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Jennifer Kinon + Bobby Martin
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Pablo Delcan
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