Photo credit: @julesdwit.
A not-for-profit media organization supported by people like you.
A call-in segment: Tell us a story about sound in your life, any true story. Good or bad, describe a particular relationship with noise and sound. Call 212-433-9692, or post your story below.
Air conditioning noise definitely raises my tension level. But I usually don't realize I *was* tense until the air conditioner cycles off...& I relax.
And now I'm hearing about easy listening-type "music." I can't stand that. It's had all the personality drained out of it, & I can't tune it out. Once it was playing while I was reading something interesting in a used bookstore & didn't want to leave. I actually started to fall asleep as my mind tried to escape the Muzak!
Williamsburg Resident21 - You're in an illegal apartment. I'm not sure if that gives you much leverage with another apartment who is the supposed "leaseholder," if they are the only ones with whom you have a dialogue. Yes--you deserve "reasonable enjoyment" which is written into most NYC leases, but it doesn't seem you have one of those. You don't say why you stay, but I would consider finding another apartment.
In 1975-1976 I had a 1-year job w/the EFA's Office of Noise Abatement and Control (which no longer exists) in Crystal City, Va. It was located in the perfect noise lab: just off a major highway, close to an airport, & in area where there was always construction going on. I think there was a 4th noise element, but if there was, I can't think of it right now.
We live in West Chelsea, and we were under the impression that the heliport on the Hudson was going to be shut down by 2014. Now that it's summer, we're treated to hedge funders whose helicopters to the Hamptons buzz our apartment building and the parks constantly.
What can we do about the new sirens the NYPD are employing? They growl and rattle the windows with a kind of sub-woofer, and it's unnervingly loud--beyond the loud siren. How is this legal?
The ice cream man frequently stops near the apartments near my home and leaves his music loops running . One day I asked him to turn it off while he's parked , He told me to jump in the lake and we argued enough to scare his customers away . So I'm know as the guy who fights with the ice cream man . LOL
After my divorce serveral years ago I moved to Montclair from Jersey City. My daughter, 7 at the time, stayed with me on weekends. After a few weekeneds she complained that she had a hard time getting to sleep for the noise. "What noise?", I would retort, "there are no car alarms, fire engine/police car sirens, traffic or kids hanging out(we lived off a busy interection in JC)." While still in an apartment in Montclair, the neighbors were not bad at all-at that time. Finally, one night I put her to bed and stayed in the room. Soon after I turned off the light, "that noise", she said. Not hearing a thing, I waited a few minutes and laughingly said, "Those are crickets!" She had gotten so used to falling asleep to the noise of JC that she had to get used to the contrast of the quiet and the crickets at night.
Shhhhhh!- Remember when we considered libraries places of quiet respite for contemplative thought? That's not the case anymore! Our library administration officials with their new "non-shush" policies are now crowing about how how libraries of the "21st Century" are going to be anything but quiet.
What's the real reason they are changing the rules so libraries won't be quiet any longer?: They are cramming everything, all sorts of activities into smaller undifferentiated spaces so they can sell-off library real estate.
More on this at Citizens Defending Libraries.
Noise? You want noise? Go to the movies some time. My wife and I used to like movies but have stopped going because the theaters are so loud as to be painful and won't turn it down even if you ask. I wear hearing aids and have to turn them off. But then it's still too loud and I miss words because of my hearing. Catch-22...
My son-in-law is an ABC (American Born Chinese) and speaks fluent Chinese as does his mother. Both are teaching my grandchildren Chinese in the home and the decibel level is no more than in any other home.
How about noise from noisy neighbors? I'll take street noise any day vs high impact or other noise from inconsiderate neighbors, e.g., neighbors who live above with zero rugs who like to walk around with their River Dance clogs, neighbors who never learned how to *pick up* a kitchen chair, but rather, drag it across the floor, children who were never taught to walk in an apartment (I'm not referring to toddlers who are hard to control), but rather older kids who should know better but don't .... neighbors who like to blast their TV sets until all hours of the day .... The list goes on and on. And sometimes if you ask people nicely to be please be considerate, because they are low consciousness, they exacerbate the behavior and do more annoying things on purpose.
Forget the garbage trucks and car alarms - run a campaign to teach people to be more considerate of others among their living spaces.
Since I moved to Chelsea sirens are awful. So loud even w windows shut stress is making me tense.
I agree with those who detest the loud music in stores and restaurants.How about excessive and unnecessary us of the horn in Manhattan?My next-door neighbor has "surround sound" in his studio apartment. To make matters worse, he only watches violent movies. Car crashes, explosions, screams, guns, war and extremely loud music are the order of the day.My theory is that he suffers from "arrested development." Could it be that he is trapped in the body of a 13-year-old boy?On the subway, young people wear earphones. The problem is that the music they're listening is so loud, that it seeps out of the earphones. What's the point? Today's young people will be the cash cow of every audiologist who can sell augmentative devices: They will all be hard-of-hearing. And what about people who scream into their cellphones on trains and buses? Silence, please!
The noises that bother me most are the loud music playing in almost every store and restaurant I go into these days. Everything from gas stations to Duane Reades, from the Gap to the Swatch store. It's crazy and very annoying. How am I supposed to talk to a salesperson about the products if we can't hear each other? It seems like every store and restaurant is trying to be a nightclub. I also detest the loud music between court changes at the US Open, between innings at baseball games, and the noise level at the Super Bowl (my first) was unconscionable. When everything is so ramped up, and there are no highs and lows, nothing is special. Everything is the same. I am falling in love with old-fashioned restaurants that don't play background music at all, places like Le Perigord, Gene's on 11th Street, Parma on the UES. My dinner guests often say that they appreciate not having to lose their voice in order to communicate.
I used to ride the A train in between cars. The sound of the wooden cars were completely another animal from today's subway.
Between 14th and 42nd St, nonstop, it was Stravinsky on acid; the poly-rhythms slowly building to a fierce, violent climax of echoes, clattering and trumpeting through the tunnel. It felt like the car might explode with one final rattle and bang, the charging herd of rectangular box monsters finally breaking free into the darkness and chaos they seemed to be calling to.
Then imperceptibly the pace would slacken a little, the cars turning, screaming with delight or terror-- or was it me?-- then ramping up for one last assault on civility.
Suddenly the sound would open up as it reached the station. A wide, grand pastoral coda in a stately, slowing gait was soothing--like a return to sanity--until the train stopped and the doors slid open.
I'd duck back into the car, so as not to be lectured by a cop, wild-eyed and unbelieving, as if I jumped between secret worlds that couldn't possibly coexist in time and space.
In response to your very timely topic on noise, I would like to offer the following as a targeted individual.
There is a massive gang stalking apparatus (civilians trained in COINTEL tactics) in New York that uses noise in in addition to many other harassment tactics against targeted individuals.Brian Lehrer was taken aback by the story of the eighty one year old widow who is experiencing vicious harassment by her landlord. This happens to many people.
The most heinous crimes are murder, rape, torture and gang stalking.
Two famous and infamous New Yorkers subjected to gang stalking Gloria Naylor read her book “1996”and Jiverly Wong read his letter: http://www.lettersofnote.com/2009/10/i-am-jiverly-wong-shooting-people.html
The following are some incidents of noise harassment recorded at and around my residence:http://youtu.be/bmpPMFpAXsY http://youtu.be/n_tdhBNOTSc http://youtu.be/DiXV8U1QWhI http://youtu.be/zyUElc8CzO0 http://youtu.be/zyUElc8CzO0 http://youtu.be/EyEZ9YWMl84
Growing up on Bruckner Blvd in the Bronx, noise was just a given. I never noticed it then, because I didn't know any different. But now that I'm older, I'm grateful for the early exposure. While other people complain about construction noises, ambulances, people being too loud on the street, etc. - it doesn't bother me. It's the background ambiance that I'm used to.
Double Decker tour bus tour guides using loudspeakers despite a 2010 Silence the Tour Buses law. Tour guides can't hear themselves over loud bus engines roar so they yell to compensate.
Cheaply maintained Double Decker tour bus screeching breaks - when the outside temperature is over 50 degrees. Especially Grayline, City Sights and Go NY Tours.
Hovering helicopters. Wouldn't be a problem if they flew around instead of hovering in one place for 20, 30, 40 and even 60 minutes at a time. A week ago, there were 3 helicopters hovering (one was directly over my building) from 5:50 am to 6:45 am. It was pitch black outside, what are they doing? What was so important?
A growing problem is the proliferation of Yenta, I mean speed bumps. There might be a place for these things, but they slow cars & especially trucks to ~ 5mph which is ridiculous. They are worst in the early morning hours when the delivery trucks are making their rounds. Brake screech, big bang, engine vrooom...we now have an additional brake & acceleration zone. This increases exhaust pollution also. And you still have to look before you cross the street, right?Give me speed cameras any day.
Back in the '80's we lived in Chelsea on 20th btwn 7th & 8th. There is a police precinct on the block. We had a crazy upstairs neighbor who would yell, well scream really, out her 1st floor window at all hours of the day and night so that meant a lot of the officers knew her.When the police drove by, usually around 3am, they would sing on the loudspeaker to her as they passed her window. I can hear it now…"it's a beautiful day in the neighborhood, a beautiful day for a neighbor, won't you be mine…"
I have a few stories beyond the most common sound complaints.
Years ago there was a truck idling on the street about 3am right below my bedroom window. It was summer so my windows were open & the truck driver was sleeping in his idling truck keeping the a/c on until whatever shop opened up that he was delivering to. It was before 311 so I called my local precinct & got a sympathetic responder who told me it was illegal and called unnecessary idling. A patrol vehicle came and told him to turn off the engine & he did - success!
A couple of years ago during prolonged street work on Columbus Avenue, the manhole cover in the middle of street rattled horribly when it was driven over. Gail Brewer's office helped me get that issue resolved, so I agree with the person below who wrote about getting your local council person involved.
Finally, an issue I can't think of a way to fix. Like many people, my building sits atop a Starbucks. I've lost track of how many Saturday and Sunday mornings I am awakened by barking dogs attached to parking signs while their owners get coffee around 8am. Pet owners must know if their dogs are barkers when left alone on the street - not all dogs do it. If your dog does do it, drop him/her off at home after the morning walk and then go get your coffee!
The cooling units on "Fresh Direct" delivery trucks are incredibly loud (even louder than the truck engines). I live on Park Ter. E. and there is a fire hydrant directly in front of my ground floor apt. This area is used constantly as the unofficial (and illegal) standing zone for all delivery trucks & neighborhood folks loading/unloaing their vehicles. The most intrusive are the "Fresh Direct" trucks which can sometimes arrive as many as four times in an evening, often staying for 20-to-30 minutes while delivering to various apts. The cooling units are so loud & vibrate so intensely that I can literally feel the vibration within my apt. And if I'm listening to a program on my computer, I'll often have to switch to headphones until the truck leaves. I've been told by 311 that this has to occur on a regular schedule for it to be considered a violation; or that I can call in a complaint for "illegal parking" at a hydrant. Not much help either way.
Interesting program and I see we are running out of time for my question, however, I thought that I would hear a comment regarding the 17 year old in Florida as reported in today's NY Times shot to death because his friend was playing music too loud at a gas station. The boy was black and the shooter white who has been charged with first degree murder and is awaiting trial.
I moved into a basement apartment this past summer and upon moving in, I was told that the landlord did not want to be responsible for 3 apartment units (the building is a 3 unit brownstone) and that due to some "legalities" he couldn't claim the basement apartment and the first floor apartment as "Seperate units" even though they are very much seperate and individual spaces and that they must be counted as "one apartment" and that I would need to be in a sublease agreement under the first floor tenants. About a month after moving in, the upstairs tenants start having people over and parties 2-3 times a week at least and on the "non-party" nights, there is loud music and stomping around all night with voices and yelling until hours like 9:30 am sometimes. I, as well as the third floor neighbors have called and complained, written emails and discussed in person to no avail and this scenario is worn me down, both physically and mentally, as I am often woken numerous times in the night, as well as kept up all night on the really loud nights and can't sleep before waking up for work. I complained to the lease holder and noise maker, only to be treated in a bad manner and the noise to get worse with louder yelling, music and stomping and later nights. I spoke to the landlord about this and explained that it was a difficult situation with her holding my lease and making all the noise. He said he spoke to her, but she said there was no noise. He also told me to speak with him when there were issues moving forward and he would handle them. I recently called a couple fridays ago, after being kept up til 8 am and he yelled at me and told me there wasn't anything he could do about. I then said that if no action was taken to keep noise at a respectful level after 10 pm, I would be forced to call 311. He then yelled more and said that I wouldn't and hung up on me. Hours later, I receive pages of text messages with threats from the upstairs lease holder as well as a phone call with her screaming and threatening me and to kick me out, etc. I honestly don't know what to do in this situation and can't believe there is no solution for a person in my place who pays rent (and a lot of it at that) on time each month and just wants to live peacefully.
I would REALLY appreciate any help of advise regarding this situation.
I am one of those unfortunate people who have super hearing. I can hear people chewing gum from feet away, I can hear the truck beeping from blocks away, I can hear people talking on the street from high up in my apartment. And for that same reason, I can not have music in my ears which irritates me , so no help for me in ignoring the noise. Earplugs help a little, but not enough. Sometimes I envy people who have hearing aids and they can turn them on and off when they want.
Are there bette/worse headphones to use?
I think the sound I hate most is that guy who sets up in Central Park with his amplifier near the lake and hollers out standards in a substandard voice for HOURS every weekend. It's noise pollution, it ruins the peace of the park for blocks around him, and he should be made to turn off that amp.
I find the most invasive sounds are those that emanate from people in restaurants...it's difficult to find a place to eat and share conversation that doesn't have high noise elements. People in New York shout while conversing. I've spent time in France, in Paris in particular, and the human noise level is much lower than here in New York. And this goes for brasseries, bars, restaurants, etc. The noise in the streets is different with the overwhelming noise coming from motorcycles. However, it is possible to have an intimate, joyful, conversation in eating places; in New York, it's impossible. Possibly because of the intentional design by restaurateurs who, at one time, believed that a noisy place was economically beneficial.
Long gone sounds: trolley cars and their bells; the cry of the "I cash clothes" man; chain drive coal dump trucks and the whoosh of the coal running down the chute from the truck to the apartment building basement; the bell announcing the arrival of the itinerant knife sharpener; counter men at Katz's Delicatessen speaking Yiddish; the sound of nickels hitting the marble tray of a Horn & Hardart Automat cashier.
Noisy and nosey co-workers! Oh and the dude who drives around Williamsburg in his Subaru with all his windows open while blasting oldies and singing way off key. Cringe inducing.
What point is there for the beeping noise car keys make for simply unlocking your car from outside? We have an older car. To unlock it, you push the same button, but there is no noise. That was the old-fashioned way.
Secondly, in order to lock the car, all anyone must do, is push down the lock button inside the car.
I've moved several times because of noise, specifically because the apartment above me was renovated, the floor was replaced with no acoustic barrier and the land lord didn't enforce the carpet clause in the lease. I had lived there for years with no problems until that happened. I politely complained to the land lord and my neighbors. The land lord ignored me and the neighbors retaliated by making more noise. I had no recourse but to move. It wasn't fair.
Thanks for a very important program on noise.Where are the links to the panel members who spoke on the radio?Thanks again!
I spend two hours every workday with headphones on, from 10-12, listening to the Brian Lehrer show, to which I am addicted. At noon, however, I am happy to unplug and and give my ears a rest.
Where are the links to the guests?
Something I am experiencing right now ... fellow workers in office environments using very loud speaker phones for their phone calls, even those with offices, who don't have the courtesy to close their office doors during the calls.
Please ask how we can get firetruck and ambulance sirens changed to the European style sirens.
I live on ELizabeth St.in Manhattan. I live on the first floor,on top of a bread bakery. The bakeries machinery rattles my floor at night and the bakers play mexican music which gets louder as the evening progresses. On top of me is my landlord who keeps an apt. as a boys club in the evening. There is no carpeting. Next door to me is a noisy Irish bar that plays loud techno music at night. When the weather hits the 60's the door is left open. They host football parties on sunday's. They have oversized flowerpots which are empty and kids use as a giant ashtray and scream directly into my window. On the corner of Elizabeth/Bleecker is a construction site. Houston/Elizabeth st. has been under construction for years.
People should know about free services in NYC to help talk to neighbors and landlords about noise -- mediation is a middle ground between complaining to 311/911 and having to go it alone.
Look up your local community mediation center. There's one in every borough.
... All of this is well and good, but what if the offending parties making noise ARE your landlords?!?! My landlords, who live below me, have been doing construction and/or renovations in the space JUST BELOW MINE for TWO YEARS now, with no end in sight. Always seems to be at around 8am and then again at 5pm. The exact hours I am home. AND they just had the nerve to raise my rent!!!!!!!
Though this is in the suburbs, I'm posting it anyhow. Two noise problems. About 20 yrs. ago a young couple moved in next door & maybe 15 years ago the husband bought a motorcycle. Our neighborhood's houses are small, Levittown-like houses built just after WW II--there's about 6 feet between the houses. My parents, now in their 80s & liivng in Fla. bought the house in 1962 & I moved back in 30 yrs ago. The neighbor used tostart up his motorcycle at full blast early in the morning, sometimes before sunrise and then let it "idle' for as long as 15"--again, just feet away from my parents and bedroom and mine. Our town law forbids idling for more than 3". I wrote the town hall & was told they would get back to me on it. Suddenly 2 weeks later a cop showed up at their house, setting off the neighbor. we eventually made peace &, now in his 40s, the neighbor rarely uses the motorcycle & is more mindful of the noise, but . . . right now I'm looking at 8" of snow on my sidewalk while all the other neighbors' walks have been plowed by the guy's teenaged son who deliberately skipped my house. I'm 59 with chronic back & neck pain from being a violent crime victim [another story, another time] & now have to shovel out. 2nd story: last year, behind the motorcyclist's house a family moved in with a dog with a bark that sounds like one of those huge Alaskan or Siberian huskies. They have put it out in the yard as many as 6-8 times throughout the day & night, often starting before dawn and at latest, 11 pm. And they leave the dog out for as long as an hour to 1.5 hrs, barking non stop. This, too, is against the law--a half dozen calls to the police appears to have temporarily got through to these totally selfish and inconsiderate people, but I'm not counting on it continuing once the warm weather comes.
What about the responsibility of the complainers. I have a friend whose neighbor regularly complained about my friend's toddler running around the apt. They had carpet and she got him out as much as possible but the neighbors below her regularly pounded the ceiling with a broom handle, which was terribly scary for everyone. How much baby/toddler noise should people have to tolerate? My friend eventually moved out because it felt so hostile to live like that.
For the last couple of weeks, every morning at 1AM there is a very consistent banging sound coming from my neighbor's apartment (around my age - 30's; not sure if she lives with a partner or not). Sure, I'd typically write something like this off as sexual activity, but here's the weird part: it's super consistent noise, very evenly paced, more like hammering a nail than the figurative allusion and it's always at 1AM. We can't hear it from the bedroom, so I don't think my GF and I will say anything, but it sure is strange.
I grew up in Flushing in the 30's and remember hearing crashing garbage pails, clopping of horses drawing carts for milk and bread delivery and every few months, knife sharpeners; the pleasant sounds of tinkling horse tackle. For several years until '39, I could sometimes faintly hear Yours for a Song wafting from the Aquacade at the World's Fair although my house was at least 4 miles from it.
No portable or car radios.
LEAF-BLOWERS: My city council person wanted to introduce a bill to lower their decibel value. He was told that blowers with lower noise levels would not have the power to blow the leaves. Whatever happened that human muscle power using rakes?
From a recent caller --- "doorperson"???
I grew up in Rosedale in the day of the SST Concorde, and when that flew over the neighborhood, we all would stop playing baseball or football or whatever we were doing because the noise was so loud we *had* to cover our ears with both of our hands.
If the infrastructure of the building is flimsy (poorly built) how do you soften the upstairs neighbors noise when they walk? By simply walking, it resonates, carpets are a minor solution. They have a tiny dog, ceilings are so thin that you can actually hear it scamper across the floor. I sleep with ear plugs which is a help, but , there does not seem anything to do...
I live in Washington Heights on 181st and Riverside Drive. Both the Henry Hudson Parkway and Route 95 have exits at 181st that meet at 181st and Haven ave. One block away going east is the next light at Cabrini Ave. The two lights are not sequenced and as a result cars going east on 181st start blasting their horns when the light at Haven Ave. turns green and traffic is at a standstill. About a year ago I took the advice of a friend who suggested contacting the Mayor's office on the web and issuing my complaint. They directed me to the Department of Transportation. Thru my continued efforts I reached Margaret Forgione the commissioner of Transportation. She responded to my complaint by telling me that a study of 181st had been completed recently and that there was no problem at the intersections. She also contacted the local Police Department and they agreed.
I also went to meetings at the local Community Board and there I met a community liaison of Senator Adriano Espalliat. I explained the situation to her including my idea to resolve the problem. She told me that this problem that is solvable. The solution (which I had also suggested to commissioner Forgione in writing) is to remove a few parking spaces (3) on the south side of 181st street before the light at Cabrini Ave and in effect create a passing lane for cars to go around anyone making a left turn at Cabrini Ave. The turning cars are just part of the problem. The volume of traffic (at various times during any day)is the other problem.
I met with the community liaison in November of last year. I would suggest to anyone having a problem to contact their local community board and their local state representative. You have to realize that your up against a lot of other citizens with problems that maybe more serious and the competition is intense. Personally I would advise anyone who has faced the frustration I have to contact their local representative first I just sent the community liaison a follow up e-mail yesterday. My experience suggests that you have to be incredibly persistent and focus your energy in the right direction.
Almost every summer Sunday, for 2 hours before parades that begin on Madison Ave. in midtown, bands and parade participants practice on 37th St. between Madison and 5th Ave. Residents of our large (200 apartments) residential building that faces E. 37th St. are subjected to unremitting noise that in addition to practicing marching bands, includes people screaming instructions to participants over enormous loud speakers. The decibel level is so high that dishes in our kitchen cupboard rattle & it's impossible to hear a ringing phone, listen to the radio or watch TV. 311 said the Parks Department issues permits for this. They say they don't & suggested that we call the police. My precinct said nothing can be done; the desk sergeant suggested throwing pots of hot water on parade participants from the window! The noise goes on every summer Sunday. E-mails to former Mayor Bloomberg & Christine Quinn produced no response. We ask to have this practice moved to a street containing only commercial buildings instead of allowing it in front of a residential building.
We have annoying neighbors above us; the kind of people that start vacuuming at 10PM (sometimes in high heals) and make loud banging & dragging sounds sometime at 3AM! We have a 1 year old and they've woken us up many times, sometimes scaring the baby because the noise is jarring. Sounds like they dropped a bowling ball on the hard wood floor. We tried talking to them (nicely at first), tried having the super talk to them, told management about it, bought them felt pads for their chairs they drag across the hard wood floor yet still there's been very little change. It's not every night, but often enough to be a nuisance and disrupt our quiet enjoyment. Even more of a bad taste considering the amount of rent we pay.
Noise is the number complaint in nyc. i wear ear plugs in my room.I live by a busy street, buses, cars people walking by at all hours of the day/night...I hate the noise NYC generates the more than I hate the smells, the rudeness, the antipathy and snobbishness.I hate the noise. I've moved from one address to another address to yet another address due to noise.At times the planes would fly too low above Sunset Park, or my roommate would be super loud at 2:30am in Crown Heights...Noise is a disease.I don't see a way to stop the noise, other than move to the boondocks of NJ or Long Island.
The tourist helicopters over the Hudson River produce a constant loud noise which we hear along the Hoboken Waterfront walkway and parks on the river. There are multiple loud helicopters in the air all the time.
The journalist Jacobs who writes those total immersion books -- i.e., a year of living biblically, wrote a book about all the current research about health and exercise.
I heard him interviewed several times on public radio, and one thing he mentioned and tried to emphasize several times in each interview, was the deleterious effects of noise on our health. He kept coming back to that point saying how surprised he was by how important it was.
Those disturbing, thudding extreme bass sounds from car stereos are illegal in many countries - for a reason. They are linked to health problems, besides being obnoxious.
A street vendor on the South-West corner of 73th Street and Broadway, uses a professional sound-amplification device to attract customers for his clothing sales, and to sell cd's. The sounds reach the living space of the Ansonia apartments. This violates New York Code § 10-108, that explicitly prohibits the use of amplified sound for commercial or business advertising purposes. Yet the police refuse to enforce this regulation. This has gone on for years, but repated complaints failed to produce enforcement of the regulations against the use of amplifi3ed sound for commerical purposes.
CELL PHONES! On the streets, in elevators, on the bus, and now in subways! I don't care what you had for lunch, please wait a few minutes and take it out of other's earshot.
When I was younger, I had a girlfriend that lived on University Avenue in the Bronx. Being young and in love, my girlfriend sometimes snuck me into her family's apartment after they had gone to bed so that we could share our mutual affection.... Her room was at the far end of the apartment and I had to pass all the other rooms to get there. Occasionally we napped after our efforts but usually woke up soon after. One time I descended into a deep sleep and was saved by the sound of metal garbage cans and the grinding din of a truck compactor. The sanitation workers, judging by the sounds of the cans hitting and rolling on the sidewalk, were tossing the empty cans, after they were emptied into the compactor, from the street back onto the sidewalk. The sun had not risen yet and my girlfriend and I were spared the embarrassment of facing her family. Metal garbage cans were replaced by plastic bags and are no longer part of the city sound-scape. And garbage truck compactor noises are slightly less noisy than they were in the 1960s.
Can you mention that people who live on the top floor have NO idea how loud it is for anyone that lives on a floor with someone above?
I have a mollucan parrot. That is the large (crow size) all white parrot with a salmon colored crest. His cage is in my bedroom and from the moment I wake up till I go to bed, he does not shut up if I am in the room. Whether I'm reading, watching TV or napping he continues to squawk, loudly and continuously. I have tried every remedy but nothing works. Sending him to a new home is not an option. I have fed and played with him every day for 30 years and, if the experts are correct, he will live for another 30-50 years. I have a love/hate relationship with him and, I admit, the hate is sometimes murderous.
Dear Brian, You and your guest just agreed that it is expensive to reduce subway noise. I think you should both have agreed that it is expensive to add noise, but that is what has made the subway even more of a noise-plague: loudspeakers in the cars, ding-dongs that are deafening, subway-platform announcements. Unless there are performer-beggars, your present-day quietest portion of subway travel is in the tunnels, in motion. It used to be the loudest. What brings you this contrast? Technology, paid for by someone.
Why doesn't the guest stress the RESPONSIBILITY to be quiet as much as the RIGHT to quiet?
As I was just listening to the show about noise I had a great New York experience!! When you played the archived sounds of the ferry boat, right after, the drilling above me came in at the same pitch and the same length of time and then the second time the ferry boat sound happened, the drill happened simultaneously ... same sound, same pitch and same length of time ... a stereophonic duet in my ears!! It made the sound emanating from upstairs more humorous at that moment than extremely annoying as it has been for the last two days. On the contrary, my neighbor's piano is right next to my bed and their 8 year old ... beginning piano student, loves to practice early in the morning. When his mother expressed concern to me (I an opera singer) I said it was no problem as I was happy to hear he was practicing. I'm able to go right back to sleep. I would never want to discourage a young boy normally reluctant to practice from seizing the moment. The garbage trucks during the night ... on the other hand ... :-(
For the past several years, a street vendor has taken up a position, adjacent to the Ansonia, on the 73th Street and Broadway. In addition to his clothing sales, he uses a professional sound-amplification device to attract customers for his clothing sales, and to sell cd's. The sounds produced by this sound system reaches living spaces in the Ansonia building, and interferse with quite and comfort of apartments. At least 3 complaints through the 311 system without results.
However, New York Code § 10-108, entitled, “Regulation of sound devices or apparatus” explicitly prohibits the use of amplified sound for commercial or business advertising purposes. The Code explicitly states:
Use and operation of the sound devices and apparatus for commercial and business advertising purposes. It shall be unlawful for any person to use or operate any sound device or apparatus in, on, near or adjacent to any public street, park or place, for commercial and business advertising purpose. New York Code § 10-108(c).
The Code also confers enforcement authority on the NYPD:
Violations. 1. Any person who shall violate any provision of this this section, any rule promulgated pursuant thereto or the terms of a permit issued pursuant to subdivision f of this section, shall be liable for a civil penalty recoverable in a civil action brought in the name of the police commissioner or the commissioner of environmental protection or in a proceeding before the environmental control board in an amount of two hundred fifty dollars for the first violation, five hundred dollars for the second violation and seven hundred fifty dollars for the third and each subsequent violation. However, any person who commits a fourth and any subsequent violation within a period of six months shall be classified as a persistent violator and shall be liable for a civil penalty of one thousand dollars for each such violation. New York Code § 10-108(j.)
The police department and the department of environmental protection shall have the authority to enforce the provisions of this section. New York Code § 10-108(l.) Inspite of the laws on the books, the NYC police department has refused to enforce the provisions of the New York Code to terminate the use of sound-amplification devices, an ongoing Code violation, occurring adjacent to the Ansonia, at the intersection of 73th Street and Broadway.
One of the reasons why the NYC subways are SO very noisy is because all the tracks are open to each other. The "tube" in London is comprised of independent tunnels so there's no echo and bleeding of noise across open tracks. So much less noise stress!
Our corner of northern Westchester is generally very peaceful, except when the lawn mowers and leaf blowers are being used. Whether our windows are open or not, the noise from those machines is so loud that it can drown out whatever we're trying to listen to inside.
What concerns me most is that the vast majority of the immigrant men operating this equipment don't wear ear protection. They apparently do have it (I've asked, and expressed concern for their hearing), but they don't use it. I don't know if this is because the ear protection they have is not effective, or it's uncomfortable, or it's considered not cool to wear it, but I'd like to find a way to prevent hearing loss in these workers.
From the '80s - Beepers and Boom Boxes!
I live in Battery Park City north overlooking a lovely park called Tear Drop Park that has a super huge sliding board surrounded by tall residential buildings. When the weather is nice (and sometimes even when it's not so nice) hoards of nannies, moms and dads bring their small children to use the slide. All very nice except for the fact that the kids scream their heads off the minute they sit at the top of the slide all the way down to the ground -- and this goes on all day well past sundown. The caretakers have no regard for the annoyance their kids are creating. The constant high pitched screeches reverbing between the surrounding buildings sound like (what I would imagine) a medieval torture chamber. I wrote the firm who designed the park to tell them that while they designed a lovely park they neglected to consider the fact that people would be living within 20 feet of it. There really needs to be an ordinance to restrict children's playgrounds from being located next to residential buildings.
Let me begin by saying I'm thankful that our NYC streets are relatively clean. I've lived in other cities where you see the trash bags pile up on the sidewalk, probably because they have trash service less often. But our multiple-days-a-week trash pick up means those trucks come and make noise no less than three times a week late at night or very early in the morning. But why do these garbage trucks have the habit of going down my street and then backing up half way down the block with the loud blare of the back-up-beep on full blast?! Also, I appreciate how diligent the lovely restaurant below me is at keeping their storefront and sidewalk clean but power washing the windows and snow shoveling/scraping the sidewalk at midnight may not be the best ways to be a wonderful neighborhood joint! I'm on the 6th floor and I think it's loud, but I feel bad for the people below!
The Roaring 20's was named because of the "Talkie" movies, "You Ain't Heard Nuthin' Yet".
Better microphones changed the quality of sound also. That's why old sound clips and films sound loud and screeching.
Another funny one for the East Village:
When I was a kid back in the 1930's on the lower East Side, people use to have Ice boxes to keep their food from spoiling. Every day you would hear a man yelling at the top of his voice from the street as he and his horse and wagon went down the street " Ice, Ice for 25 cents". He would sound like a broken record as he would continuously repeat his refrain " Ice, Ice for 25 cents".
I recall reading an article in the newspaper about people on the West side playing their radio so loud, that one of the neighbors told his neighbor to turn down the volume and they got into an argument. So the complainer went back to his apartment and came back with a gun and shot and killed his neighbor.
here's how we do it in the East Village today:
I am an architect in New York City. I had a client who was very sensitive to noise. I built a special "Sound Proof Room" for him. It was a room where none of the walls touched the adjoining walls or the ceiling. Special spring loaded where used where anything need to touch the adjoining structure. The door had seals that droped into place when closed.
It was probably quieter inside then WNYC's studio. He was extreme. His wife said he listened for noise.
I have endured incredibly loud, late night (9 pm – 5 am) Salsa music from a neighbor who lives in the building next door for 35 years. Because the music comes through an airshaft there has been no way to identify and stop the sound. The other night I happen to overhear an intense confrontation (could have come to blows) between the music playing neighbor and someone else who lives in the building. Their encountered ended with a slammed door and, yes, silence! To my utter surprise and genuine relief the music stopped. Could this be the final note? After 35 years I am keeping my fingers crossed and can’t thank whoever it was who spoke up enough. He is truly my hero.
Car horns are a growing problem in my area of Brklyn. Part of this is because of increased congestion, but some is from drivers who check their smartphones & don't see the traffic starting to move. Of course taxis & people vans are terrible offenders!For some reason the city has stopped ticketing offending horn blowers. My solutions? Raise the fine 5x for taxis & vans, and take their license after a certain number of tickets. Let the "Traffic Cops" give tickets for this offense. This might have the nice side affect of lessening the harassment of residents unloading groceries in front of their homes by these cops.
Time and Again by Jack Finney - good call, Brian. A real neat way to time travel back to NYC at the time they were just putting up the Statue of Liberty and Brooklyn Bridge. A real neat book.
i grew up in the Bronx (46 through 70) across from a firehouse and a bar. One had sirens; the other, gunfights. I lived awhile in Brooklyn Heights which was probably the quietest and am currently on the Lower East Side. Noise is a constant in NYC; always there at some level and I'm long at the point where I tune most of it out. I spend summers in Vermont which is surprisingly noisy due to the ubiquity of power tools of all sorts. Oddly, I am more aware of man made noise there than in the city as someone is always repairing, mowing or sawing something, particularly on weekends. I have forsaken most power tools myself. I use a reel mower rather than a power mower and try to plan projects to avoid using a power tool when possible. The benefit is that some of these chores and projects have become meditative experiences.
Bottom line: noise is more of a nuisance in the country.
Why can't we, one of the most cosmopolitan, richest cities in the WORLD have a modern, QUIET metro system??
Especially at $2.50 a ride!!
Summer neighborhood noises are gone! When I moved into my Windsor Terrace apartment in 1978, we kept our windows open in the summer. You could hear your neighbors disciplining their children, watching the ball game, practicing their musical instruments, etc. Now everyone has air conditioners and keep their windows closed.
I've just gone through a year of pointing on the building. There's nothing more ear splitting than the sound of brick and stone being drilled.
I grew up in Brooklyn in the 70's. My bedroom window was directly across the street from a large, dark schoolyard. Every summer night, groups of Puerto Rican teenagers would gather and loudly play bongo drums for hours. I remember complaining and my Mom half heartedly calling the cops, but of course they never showed up - this was back when Brooklyn was wild. Although the drums bothered me as a kid, to this day when I hear Latin rhythms it feels like home.
I lived on MacDougal St. above a falafel place, where guys would sit out late every night talking very loudly. Living there I was pretty used to it, but one night I woke up to them yelling on the street. I was totally ticked off that they would so disregard their sleeping neighbors, and marched over to the window to tell them off.
But when I looked out, the street was full of people looking right up at me. Turns out they were yelling at someone above me to go up the fire escape instead of down to avoid a fire. Within a minute firemen were banging on my door to get out.
I realized that if I lived somewhere quiet, no one would have seen the fire, or saved my escaping neighbor, or myself. I've never been so grateful for NY noise.
i am an architect working in NYC. the levels of complaints regarding sound we have to deal with from neighbors usually fall under 2 category:
1) the family with a baby that wants the construction to fall along the nap schedule of the child
2) the stay-at-home owner that has supersonic hearing and complains (311, letters from lawyers, NYC DOB) about noise that are so slight that the acoustical engineer hired for $300/ hr cannot detect the noise with the audio meters.
it really boils down to what people feel they are "entitled" to if they spent $4million on a 3-bedroom and lo-and-behold it becomes "why do i have to hear the sanitation truck on the street thru the triple-pane glass windows."
The only time I called the cops with a noise complaint wasn't in NYC, it was in Austin, TX, where I lived in the late 90s. I was awoken about 4 in the morning, with the most unearthly and unnerving noises I had ever heard emanating from my backyard, not far from my bedroom window. I couldn't tell if it was human or animal, but there were at least two voices making terrifying, keening noises which seemed to follow each other in an almost ritualistic manner. Both of my cats were standing up with their hair sticking out, so I knew it wasn't just me. In my groggy Recovering Catholic brain, I decided it had to be a Black Mass going on back there. I called 911 an tried to tell the operator. "Ma'am could you describe the Black Mass you're hearing?" I tried, and within minutes there were officers at my door. They looked a little amused. "Ma'am, you had a couple hooters back there getting frisky." I was confused (and later offended). My house was next to a high school for deaf kids. A couple had found their drunken way to my backyard, and started getting it on. Apparently when the cops showed up they ran through the woods with their clothes, leaving two half empty beers in my yard. I felt AWFUL. I'm would NEVER have called the police on kids having sex, and felt like a huge ass. ("Hooters", yuck.) But on the other hand was fascinating to hear how unearthly and powerful was the sound of humans mating when they cannot hear each other.
I have lived in Murray Hill for 37 years. Our apartment is on the 3rd floor,facing the street. Every year, at least once a year - but usually more often - Con Ed does work on the three man-hole covers in front of our building. When the repair crew leaves, they never glue the covers down. So for 37 years, we have had to call Con Ed repeatedly to get a crew to stop the man-holes covers from rattling like gun-shots when cars and trucks go over them. Why is it that Con Ed doesn't require their repair crews to secure covers?
I’ve been happily ensconced in my Park Slope garden apartment for 20 years, and it was noise in Manhattan that got me here. I lived in a third floor apartment on Park Ave. South at 21st St. and when I talked on the phone people would ask me if I was at a pay phone (remember those?) on the street. Fire engines were a particular menace. It always bothered me, but after spending 6 weeks in the country, it was unbearable. That was it. I made the move and, strangely enough, have noise to thank for.
After a few years working in live sound reinforcement (rock & jazz concerts around NYC) and doing carpentry without ear plugs I developed hearing damage (tinnitus). On a recent trip to the California Redwoods, standing there in the dead quiet of the forest - a slight breeze and birds - I became very aware of the apparent volume of the ringing in my ears. One thing about living and working here in NYC is the perpetual white noise largely drowns out my tinnitus. I've been using noise isolating headphones for a few years now - great for the subway, noisy streets, and saving what's left of your hearing.
I have lived in the same building on Manhattan Avenue and 115th for 8 years. My 1st apartment was on the first floor, and was fine until Manhattan Avenue was switched back to a 2-way street, and a bus stop was installed in front of my bedroom window. It often sounded like my bed was on the sidewalk once the busses started running, and soon enough the motorbikes came. I moved to a 2nd floor unit on the back of the building, only to find that my neighbors upstairs liked to smoke pot and play guitar starting at about 2 am, and all the complaints I made had no effect. So 2 years ago I finally moved to a unit on the 6th floor - the top floor - in which you can hear a pin drop at night. The problem now is that my next door neighbor babysits for numerous babies and toddlers during the day, and the crying (theirs) and shouting (hers) is incessant. I can no longer work at home, since the noise from next door is intolerable. I know she's not licensed, and I wonder what the rules are for taking in children, even if some of them are family.
I was in a band called the Laughing Dogs in the mid-to-late 70s. We had a loft on Jay St, right across from the Transit Authority offices, which had a park located next door. For one summer, followers of the Reverend Sun Myung Moon had a rally every Saturday afternoon, with hundreds of followers and excruciatingly loud lecturers using a megaphone. Finally, we had had enough, so we put our *very* loud PA system speakers out a few windows of our loft and blasted John Lennon's "All I Want is the Truth" back at them. About 10 of them rushed up to our 4th floor loft and banged on our door, demanding we stop all that "awful noise". We said we would the minute they stopped theirs. Touche.
Motorcycles with modified pipes.Loud pipes do not safe lives; they scare children and dogs.
Why do many motorcyclists wear ear plugs and ride loud motorcycles?It's ok for everyone else to hear your noise?
More egregious are the "weekend warriors" who can be heard on country roads from miles away. Even while hiking in the foothills of the Hudson Valley, their sound can be heard piercing the quietude of nature.
Why do such a small percentage of self centered people get to inflict useless noise on so many?Why don't police enforce unnecessary noise laws?
When I lived on the 3rd floor of a brownstone on West 28th St. in the Flower Market in the 70s-80s, I got it from both top and bottom:
My landlord was a flower merchant, and they would begin dropping heavy boxes of flowers + dry ice (as I recall) on the ground floor at maybe 2 am. The whole building shook, but I got used to it.
Then, around 7 am (not EVERY day, thank heaven), my upstairs neighbor Ron would often begin his theatrical set-building, hammering away just above my head.
He essentially refused to start later when I complained, he was really a nice guy, and somehow we generally got along. I never really got used to that. Whew.
Those were still good times. Go figure.
I lived in Brooklyn from about 1942 to 1966. Recently I went back to my childhood neighborhood. The difference there was clearly what I had already observed had happened around Manhattan--- many more cars and awful traffic noise almost everywhere. On 10th Avenue, my childhood home, the number of parked cars was surprising. My photos from the period show no more than 2 cars parked on the block. Now, about 15.
The Pentecostal KOOKS just two doors from us!
Shut the damn door!
I endorse what Scott and hilts wrote. For those who live in the outer boroughs leaf blowers are especially loud and annoying. The village of Larchmont bans the use of them from something like April to August.
Aftermarket auto/motorcycle exhaust!
Find a new way to compensate for your sexual inadequacy!!
Regarding Chinese, I have thought the same thing as the first caller. I have a lovely neighbor, who is Chinese. On occasion, I thought she was having an emotional fight on the phone. When I crept a bit closer, I realized she was just having a laugh with a friend on the phone. It sounded loud and harsh. I wonder if I would think any differently if I understood any Chinese.
Secondly, people in general speak too loudly, particularly young people. I have seen a whole restaurant full of people turn around to look at the incredible volume coming out of an oblivious young woman's mouth.
We had a new gas heating system installed in our suburban home about 2 years ago. The only place to install it was in the basement under our first floor bedroom. For the last month the water pump, a very small component, started clanking loud enough to wake me up. The plumbing company that installed the system for a cool $8K said a mere noisy pump was a nuisance call. We finally called the owner of the company who actually did the install. He came, changed the pump in about 15 minutes, and it's back to run silent, sleep deep.
In the office, the sound of Selectric Typewriters, used to be the soundtrack of work. Now it is much quieter.
When my family moved to NY our first two apts were on low floors on 41st ST in Tudor City. We were feet from 2nd Avenue & its truck noise & had noise from the Daily News building which was printing the paper then + on 43rd ST in Tudor City was Grand Central Hospital so we had constant sirens down 2nd Ave, up 41st ST, across Tudor City Place & down 43rd. Add in no AC & the UN traffic & it was very hard to study which was important as I had moved to a private school from a Southern public school which put me a year behind in my top subjects & 2 years behind in my worst subjects.
My neighbor upstairs denied slamming her toilet seat down every time she used it and blamed that possibly her cat was making some noise. Another upstairs neighbor in another building also denied walking around with heavy shoes and after taking them off, throwing them down on uncarpented floors instead of laying them down gently! Ran out of both and bought a house! Worth the mortgage!
PLEASE know that MOST motorcyclists like loud motorcycles LESS than most people. It seems like it is a larger portion of the motorcycles than it actually is because you don't notice the quiet bikes.
I am a motorcyclist living in Manhattan. I am in many riding clubs and this is a common lunch-time topic.
There is a minority of riders who believe that "loud pipes save lives" and also some that are just jerks. Most of us agree that "loud pipes loose rights".
We live in a brownstone in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn. We discovered after moving in that our upstairs neighbor rarely leaves the house and watches television all day and night. The floor and ceiling between us is so thin that we can hear him yawn in the morning. We also hear the play by play when he has female visitors throughout the week… To top it off, a neighbor in the adjacent building is a musician and practices his guitar daily, often starting at 10pm or early mornings on the weekend. It turns out his home studio is adjacent to our bedroom and he has no desire to move his speakers or keep the volume lower to make things more comfortable for us.
Do we have any recourse besides moving?!
Since the extreme construction noise from a luxury condo started more than a year ago, from 7 am to 5 or 6 pm Mon.-Sat , I have written, called 311, DOB, CB1 and various elected official to zero result. Why are they granted such hours? It's not emergency project . We are completely in despair.
My joke about kids is:
You live in Manhattan, people say: "You have kids?"
You live in NJ, people say: "Only 2?"
Very UNPLEASANT feeling was when there was NO NOISE from air traffic for a few days following 9/11
I worked in a Williamsburg bar about eight years ago. As soon as the place filled up, the manager cranked the music up to ear-splitting volumes. He believed it amped up the patrons' adrenaline and they would buy more drinks, but all it did was fill the air with a lot of unnecessary noise pollution.
I volunteered for the first time in my son's school. The level of noise in school is unbelievable. When you have 200 kids in one area, you can't hear anything.
The MTA. The extraordinary loud & high pitched sound when the old buses lower or raise in the front -- why is this necessary? When was the last time you heard of someone killed or even hurt by a bus lowering or raising? And even if they kept the beep, why so damn loud! It's piercing!
Also, the CONSTANT, oppressive BOMBARDMENT of messages, both automated and by conductors There is not a moment's peace inside a subway car with all the useless, gratuitous messages.
Worst might be the lecturing that the conductors give us about not leaning on the cars or blocking the doors. I wouldn't mind it if they kept the messages simple and to the point -- "All the way in!", but when the trains are running behind schedule and the platforms are packed, instead of quickly trying to close the doors and get out (very few new passengers could board anyway), they spend more time giving the passengers long, detailed instructions about pulling all their clothes in. This only wastesmore time, and puts the trains further behind schedule.
And nobody's listening, because we've heard it a thousand times before and we all know the drill.
Even on the platforms there is constant announcements, most of which are completely unintelligible over the sounds of trains coming and going. And again, they waste times with extra verbiage. ("Ladies & gentlmen...") instead of getting right to the point: (i.e. "No #5 service from Grand Central to Atlantic Ave Brooklyn.")
Trying to call in but the line is busy -- Back in 2007, my roommate and I thought we'd scored an amazing 2BR apartment on Avenue B in the East Village. It was next door to/above a restaurant, great, let's move in. We signed the lease and everything was happy... until my roommate called me (she'd moved in early) and told me there appeared to be a club downstairs.
The restaurant turned into a hookah bar/club at night, unbeknownst to us. And so it started. Every. Single. Night. Bass thumping, music blaring, crowds outside the door until the wee hours, seven days a week. It was the bane of our homelife, the noise haunted our dreams and even to this day, I can't hear the opening bass lines of "Billie Jean" without cringing, because it was the first song played every night.
We called 311 so many times I started to feel like they recognized us. We bought sound machines to drown it out, I looked up options to soundproof the bedrooms from the noise because we were safe nowhere from the pervasive noise.
We went to community board meetings when the establishment's liquor license was in trouble and railed about the pervasive, neverending, awful horrible no good very bad noise, to no avail.
This went on for an entire year, until we'd finally started to get somewhat used to it. The irony is, our landlords didn't let us renew the lease, instead offering it to the club's DJ. At least he'd be used to the noise.
That restaurant finally got shut down -- well after we'd finally moved out.
The bottle collector ladies who rummage through our recyclable bins very early in the morning. The sound of the loose bottles in their carts resonates through the street, and manage to wake me up a couple of hours before my alarm is set to go off.
Talk about noise, ya shoulda lived in Brownsville-East New York in Brooklyn during the late '50s when the fire engine sirens were blaring constantly non-stop. Brownsville had the highest number of fires of any county in the country at that time. Why? Because the liberals had passed a regulation that those burned out of their homes would be first on line to get into the spanking-new housing projects that were popping up. The tenements of Brownsville became like London during the blitz. I grew up with noise of fire engines ringing in my ears until we finally moved out close to New Years Day 1960 into the wonderful new world of Flatbush.
To the guy who had pothole problems. There was a huge crater in my neighborhood. I called my local council member, and it got filled in within a few weeks. Use your local politicians. That's why you voted for them.
What I discovered once when I called the police about a very loud whole building air conditioner that was installed near my apartment, is that NYC has many noise laws but no way to enforce them. The cops respond but they have no SPL meters to tell exactly how loud a noise is.
Our downstairs neighbors hate us because of our active child. We've invested $1000+ in rug pads (95% of floors covered), we're away weekends, avoid noisy toys, and have our kid in school most of the day. Whenever they hear a peep, they start pounding on their ceiling with broomsticks! I was sympathetic at first, but now they're the nuisance. Our building is a nice old pre-war, but the worst acoustics in any building I've ever lived in, we hear the kid and pet upstairs, the elderly neighbor's TV blasting all night, it's terrible.
Noise drove me out of the city and back to the suburbs once we started a family. I love the peacefulness of my home in the suburbs. But, when we travel to truly rural areas, I realize that no noise at all makes me very uncomfortable. I guess a little background noise is a good thing.
I live in a building with no insulation- wooden floors, floor joists and sheet rock, where when someone sneezes it's as if it is your own apartment.(I frequently complain on 311 when my neighbor runs an after hours club in his apartment from 3-7am). While on a shoot at a 10,000 sf maisonette on ParkAvenue on the UES, I noticed a constant loud drilling. I inquired as to what was the sound, and was told "my upstairs neighbor is Kate Spade and she has been renovating for three years", I realized NO ONE in NYC no matter how rich is immune from noise.
Fun (though serious) subject. A few years ago my family and that of my best girl-friend took a skiing trip to Mont Tremblant, nor far from Montreal. I took all 4 kids to the supermarket. They were running around, super-excited and just talking, as they do here, in NYC. Mind you, the supermarket was full of people, including numerous children and the atmosphere was almost serene. I tried to hush the children, then in exasperation, said: "COME ON KIDS! We're in Canada! Keep it down, will U?"; all patrons, including their children, just smiled. I then realized I had used my NYC Decibels. I was mortified and cowed, but our hosts were gracious. kay
Construction; noise and dust. It can last for months and months.
I too had those steel plates on third Avenue between 13th St. and fourth teen Street. I lived on the fifth floor directly on third Avenue which is also a high-traffic truck area. So I took it upon myself to go round the neighborhood and collect official Transportation Department barricades and at night I would literally turn third Avenue from a three Lane northbound route to a one lane route by placing the barricades around the steel plates so that cars and trucks couldn't go over the plates. In the six months that the construction was going on I did this he almost every night and it worked. No one ever complained. In the morning the construction crew would come and take the barricades and put them on the side and when I got home from work as it got dark I go out and I turn three lanes back and one every night for as long as the construction lasted
I used to live at 116th and Riverside in the only building in the immediate area that was not owned by Columbia U. or Barnard. There is a triangular area where Claremont Avenue curves into 116th St. This was right below my eighth floor bedroom window. During pledge week, a brass band would march down from the campus and play in this triangular area at 3am. Also, during exam time, students in the dormitories across the street would sometimes throw open their windows and yell the phrase from the film Network "I'm mad as hell and I'm not gonna take it anymore!"
The euphonic side of noise...
If listeners have younger children, or can tolerate a rather maudlin movie, I commend August Rush to listeners for another take on noise. At least, some nice shots of the city and Robin Williams as a bad dude.
I am a librarian and a student with a sweet, quiet and diffident foreign accent came to ask were the public phone was and then had the most raucous conversation in another language that could be heard clearly throughout the main university library.
In fact, a LOT of these callers are shouting. Maybe there is endemic hearing loss among New Yorkers!
What I discovered once when I called the police about a very loud whole building air conditioner that was installed near my apartment, is that NYC has many noise laws but no way to enforce them. The cops respond but they have no SPL meters to tell exactly how a noise is.
In response to a caller "Ernie" from Long Island and his Noise story regarding the Chinese language. Mandarin is the most common Chinese dialect spoken.
It is important to note that it is also a tonal language where pitch rises and falls to change the meaning of the word; very often bringing emphasis to a conversation with a louder tone.
learned in general science class in high school.
To avoid eardrum damage caused by trains etc., OPEN YOUR MOUTH to allow noise to pass through your ears
and out of your mouth.
Thanks Mr. Isaacson
The East Village has the greatest concentration of bars in the city, and second in the country. So...you can imagine the noise from Thursday to Sunday. The screaming and carrying on, especially at 4 am when the drunken kids filter out of the bars. The car horns, the police sirens. It's like a war zone. There shouldn't be that many bars concentrated on any one block, according to the SLA laws; however, that has been overlooked in order to add tax revenue to the city's coffers. But how does it benefit the East Village? Destruction, vandalism (pulled up flowers, bottles and cans in the tree beds), vomit, strewn garbage (inadequate trash cans). Everyone talks about it, but no one does anything about it. In addition, the refrigeration and a/c units from the bar underneath my window is loud all night long. No way to open a window. I love the East Village and have lived here since the bad old days. Bring back some good old-fashioned crime so the Bridge and Tunnel youth will find another playground. (They come here to party with the NYU students. NYU - that's a whole other issue.)
Drunks on the street, late nights.
So we moved to an apartment on 96th and Columbus. A few weeks later, we saw signs warning that the street was being regarded and resurfaced - starting at 11 pm and through the night, for three days. The grading machine shrieked and whistled all night. We retreated to an inner bathroom. I called the City, and was told that streets are regarded and resurfaced every decade or so and that on Fifth and Park Avenue, coops sometimes relocate residents for the duration, Worst noise that I ever heard in my NYC life - and all night long!
I just moved to 3oth street between First and Second Avenues on the 17th Floor adjacent to Bellevue and NYU emergency rooms. (yes, I know, but I thought it would be ok on the 17th Floor)
The emergency vehicle sirens are just about 24/7 ! and I am poised to jump out my 17th floor windows.
My only relief is to look out the window and watch the vehicles stuck in traffic - somehow if I am watching, I can handle it. I discovered 2 things. 1. I am sad to see that the traffic does move out of the way of the firetrucks and ambulances even when it is clear they can, so the emergency vehicles just amp up the decibles. 2. It is much louder on the 17th floor than it is on the street. Solution: It is clear that a dedicated lanes for emergency vehicles around hospitals would solve the problem - if only the bike lanes were on the correct side of the street!
All Rap music! Any Where!
"Rich" port, indeed.
i think the worst noise offender in NYC are TRUCKS. we live in a loft in brooklyn (near the Navy Yard) that is across from a chinese food distribution site. every morning around 5am the trucks roll in. the engine and compressor idling provides the constant din but the beeping from the reverse alarms is the worst. Who needs alarm clocks?!
ironically, i work as a film sound designer and often work from home. so as much as i can get annoyed from the dynamic soundtrack out my window, sometimes i'm inspired by a sound i hear from the outside world and will incorporate that into something i'm working on (especially if it's a film set in NYC;).
I work at one of NYC's best kept secrets -- New York Peace Institute (www.nypeace.org)is a nonprofit conflict resolution center that offers free mediation services to help resolve noise disputes!
Hate the loud kids or heavy bass from the apartment upstairs? Think your landlord should enforce a carpeting law? Angry about the restaurant's new backyard bar? Give us a call, we can help.
Interesting that the midwestern lady complaining about NYC noise shouted through her whole call. I had to turn the radio down.
I live in NE Queens and the worst noise problem comes from lawn and gardening equipment. Lawn mowers, leaf blowers, hedge trimmers, etc create an unacceptable noise level that is not conducive to good mental health.
About 15 yrs ago, someone published a column in the NY Times titled "I Hear America Mowing" which bemoaned the problem these tools created. Something needs to be done to force manufacturers to lower the decibel level that these tools produce.
The other noise problem that has gotten worse over time is the phenomenon of people blasting their car stereos to the maximum level.
sirens, even when it's not an emergency. i've seen it when cabs pull into a hospital entrance and they get out and tell each other good night, see ya' tomorrow...and that's AFTER they cut across a major avenue in front of other oncoming cars at a green light.also coming down park ave south every morning between 4-5:30am playing their sirens. no traffic (i went out and checked..) just because..
a friend of mine who's a nurse fully confirms my suspicions about ambulances and fire trucks playing their sirens when it's not an emergency. this makes it not only more dangerous for the rest of us who need their services in an actual emergency if everyone else thinks it's not real and then don't actually try to move out of the way faster, but for firemen, it makes it more dangerous for them as well. i hear up to 30-40 sirens a day in my area alone, minimum 10-20 every day. what the hell?
I travel to NJ most weekends and have stopped going via the train. The chatter on the train must be amplified since there is nothing to absorb the noise. I think it also has to do with the fact that the lights stay on. It's quite disturbing. Now I take the bus where it's dark and everyone either falls asleep or hardly speak on their cell phones.
The other thing -- truck and bus back-up warning beeps. They're intended to warn people who are NEAR the truck/bus, but the beeps are so loud they can be heard blocks and blocks away. WTF?!
There is a BAG PIPE musician in Union Square that thinks he is a great jazz artist, he plays with a drummer. I sell art and so Im stuck there for 4 - 5 hours of the repetitive NON jazz bagpipe nonsense. Worse is the Hare Krishnas, who set up near my stand in Union Square and and are allowed to Play until 8PM. They start at 4!
older couple on the other side of party wall;probably have age-related hearing loss;yell as a form of intercom;radio and TV on all night way too loud;comes right through 2 feet of brick;oblivious
Years ago, I moved out of the city to Connecticut for a job. A few months later, I visited friends on 103 and West End in Manhattan. I slept on the sofa in the living room which faced the street. About 5 am garbage trucks woke me up with their deafening grinding, etc. I listened for a few seconds and then rolled over and went back to sleep with a smile on my face. Ahhhh. I was home!
I live along Broadway in Brooklyn with the J & M trains right outside my window. I’m at a train stop so the trains are never at the height of their noise. The train track is literally about 15ft away from my window. It’s surprisingly not nearly as loud as I would have imagined. But more damaging than the sound is the pressure of the train that builds up in your head over time especially as you sleep. You often wake up feeling exhausted. As a side note, when your windows are this close to the stop, sparks shoot off the track about twice a day. They sound like fireworks. If I was to open my window the sparks would set fire to my curtains. I’ve notified MTA but they seems uninterested.
Oh so many noises where to start? Many have already been mentioned. I work near the Limelight shops on 6th Avenue. The music blaring from the shops is probably louder now than when it was a nightclub. It makes me NEVER want to go in there.
"Matilda," the musical of the Ronald Dahl story has a song in it, "Loud," satirically extolling the virtues of being culturally LOUD over quiet thought. Notably, the musical is also about those who who would get rid of books and libraries (preferring replacing them with big "tellies" as the best educators to make us smart).
As it happens, those running the NYC libraries now, shrinking and selling them, are extolling the virtues of our smaller libraries now being "LOUD" with a "non-shush" policy.
Just noticing this on behalf of Citizens Defending Libraries!
Maybe you'd like to play a clip from the Matilda song this morning?
A few years ago I lived in a first floor apartment in South Jersey. The lovely family in the apartment above mine had 3 children under the age of 4. Every second that those children were awake was torture for me. My home was constantly under siege. The walls of my apartment shook, my chandelier jingled and I jumped in fear every time one of them giggled or screamed. I had nicknames for the children: Kidzilla, Infantasaurus and Babythrax. Living below them, I knew what it must have been like to live in movie-land Tokyo when Godzilla attacked. I eventually moved...to Philly...and the sirens... OY!
Helicopters hovering overhead for hours. How about noise reduction?
Back-up beeps of trucks and smaller commercial vehichles, why? We all survived for decades without it, and it doesn't help people who are deaf or hard of hearing, re: man killed by backing up snow plow a few days ago. (no Medicaid for hearing aids).
Alarms from unnecessary exits through subway emergency doors.
Fire truck horns and ambulances sirens. By all means the worst noise pollutors.
Recently the elevator in my building started making a "ping" noise as it passes each floor. That would be fine, but the "ping" is SO LOUD that I worry about hearing loss.
I mentioned it to the super, and he said the City required that the elevator make that sound. "Even that loud?" I asked, and he replied "Yes."
The City of NY should not be requiring tones this loud. Particularly because the other senses of people who are blind (those who are the intended beneficiaries of these tones) become extra-sensitive.
What the heck?
The country can also be fairly noisy as well. I can attest to the fact that roosters crow throughout the night and not just at dawn.
I'm reminded of the movie My Cousin Vinny where city slicker Joe Pesci has a rude awakening every night he is in small town Alabama until he is thrown in jail for contempt of court and sleeps like a baby through a prison riot.
Worst noise experience recently was when the top floor tenant in our five story building started renting out his place via airbnb. "Guests" came in droves to party in lower Manhattan, try to pick up girls, and hand out keys to our building. Drunk people yelling and screaming in the halls, on the fire escape, and when leaving, bumping their suitcases down every step in the building. Many city noises are unavoidable, but airbnb is a disaster. The notion of "shared economy" shouldn't include inflicting noise on your neighbors.
Ugh. Parents who allow/banish their loud and boisterous children to play in apartment hallways!
Whaaaat??? I can't hear you over the fire engine, police and ambulance sirens!!
I live on the UES within a few blocks of New York Hospital. Whenever an ambulance is stuck in traffic on my street (at least 5 times a day) the residents of my block are subjected to a 90 second nonstop siren wail until the light changes. The Fire Department rolls out to the Senior Center on the corner at least once a day. Add to that the Second Avenue dig, with its attendant screeches, booms, and blasts, and you have a nearly unbearable din that seems to never end.
Ugh! When it gets warm out, my neighbor parks his motorcycle under our window and blasts Sam Cooke almost every day in the summer. Just when "Change Gonna Come" seems to be fading out, we hear it from the rear of our house as he parks in the parking lot behind our building and continues blasting. Every day in the summer it's the same thing, and the same song. I used to love that song- but the loud (loud enough to hear over our air conditioner and white noise machine and screams of "nooooooooo!" renditions of it have ruined it for my partner and I.
This City! It's loud everywhere!
For some reason the sounds of passing sirens or hovering police helicopters are only mildly annoying while the much quieter low rumble of a neighbor's television is maddening. I cannot account for the discrepancy in my reaction.
Several years ago, before 311 began, I called into YOUR VERY SHOW when the Director of NY Parks was on to ask why it was necessary to use a LOUD, unmuffled leafblower in the Ft. Greene Park Playground at 8am on a Saturday morning. And instead of saying, "We'll look into getting a muffler on that," he was incredibly dismissive, and said something like, "Well the children want to have their playground swept." A year or two later, the noise ordinance was passed and they put a muffler on. They still use it now and then and it's not a problem.
Emblematic of the suburbanization of our city. My upstairs neighbor think she lives in a house, she is constantly vacuuming and playing musical instruments into the wee hours of the morn. With no carpets!
My downstairs neighbor is psycho. She is raving for days on end and then if we drop a spoon on a staturday afternoon, she has the chutzpah to complain!
I've complained to our village government about deafening roar of leaf blowers.
please oh please ban audible ice cream trucks
no more mister softee jingles on repeat
when I grew up in the hudson valley the ice cream man had chiming hand rung bells though they were discrete I could hear them from a mile a way
Those taxi horns!!
Car horns are for emergencies not THE LIGHT CHANGED ONE SECOND AGOThe Taxi of the future should have those little toot toot horns.
I realize that there's going to be noise in the big city. What I find annoying is the noise just for noise sake. My neighbor takes out his scooter and revs the engine for 20 minutes at a time. Why?
Add to that the trucks hurtling through using their air brakes at 3 AM and the honking of horns when the light turns green or when someone is just trying to parallel park. All needless noise.
The "Fresh Direct" delivery truck.
Car alarms only woke me up once last night. Often it is three or four times. This scourge has a tremendous negative impact on worker productivity. It's economic effect should should be investigated by Representative Darrell Issa's House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
I agree with Clyde Haberman that Emergency Medical Vehicle sirens are TOO LOUD.
The most annoying noise in this annoyingly noisy city is the horrible electronic carillon that the "God Bless America" church down the block insists on blasting every day at noon and six. This is not simply fake bell tolls, but hymns picked out on computerized faux-bell notes. Worse yet are the days they play patriotic tunes--God Bless America, Battle Hymn of the Republic, and incongruously, a Billy Joel song.
Email addresses are required but never displayed.
Brian Lehrer leads the conversation about what matters most now in local and national politics, our own communities and our lives.
Subscribe on iTunes
Brian Lehrer Weekend: Gay Talese; Nobel Peace Prize Winner Leymah Gbowee; Anne Lamott
WNYC 93.9 FM and AM 820 are New York's flagship public radio
stations, broadcasting the finest programs from NPR and PRI, as well as a wide range of award-winning local
programming. WNYC is a division of
New York Public Radio.