The Noise of NYC

By Michael Lentin

You knew that part of big city living would be dealing with the typical urban sounds of taxis honking and bars bustling. But what about those sounds you weren’t expecting? Below is a list of the most noted sounds in the Big Apple that city livers complain they weren’t planning to (constantly) encounter.

Your neighbor’s pets
Don’t underestimate the power of a small dog. A sound acoustics expert in Manhattan found that one particular (scrawny) corgi-mutt mix’s bark alone was over 100 decibels—equally as loud as the Astor Place Subway. Another fact about dogs—they don’t care what time it is. They bark whenever they’re scared, confused, or just bored—regardless of the time of day (or night).

Street musicians
Saxophones, drums, pianos, cellos, singing—some street musicians are good, and some need to do some serious life re-evaluation. Nonetheless, if you’re trying to sleep, it doesn’t matter if they sound like Frank Sinatra. What’s worse: street performers can even use loud speakers, megaphones and stereos, as long as they have the permit to do so.

Garbage trucks
Garbage men in New York City start their morning trash collecting shifts as early as 6:00 AM. The average wakeup time in New York is 7:47 AM. Not much more of an explanation is needed.

Neighbor activity
The relationship counseling must not be working, because you never knew it was possible for two people (i.e., your upstairs neighbors) to fight so much. Whether angry or not, people yelling at very early and late hours is a complaint many New Yorkers share.

Chinese New Year, St. Patrick’s Day, Greek Independence Day, Gay Pride, Veteran’s Day, Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade—these are just a few of the annual parades that take the streets of Manhattan each year. If there’s a reason to have an obnoxious celebration, New York City will find it. While street parades are fun and festive, they’re also extremely loud. There are only so many tubas, theme music and confetti canons you can stand to hear.

Bus brakes squealing
This is perhaps the sneakiest noise in all of New York. It’s more than obvious when a bus needs new brakes from that terrible, shrill, ear-shattering screech that sounds each time a MTA bus makes a stop. Further, human ears have a harder time handling high-pitched sounds such as this than we do deeper sounds.

Air conditioner units
Noises from loud, bulky AC and HVAC units on roofs have a history of bringing ferocious complaints from neighbors. One Queens man, for instance, dreads the coming of warm weather simply because it means the noise from his neighbor’s AC unit will prevent his family from sleeping. Choosing between sleep and air conditioning is something nobody should have to do in Manhattan’s sweltering summers.

Helicopter noise has begun to drive many New York inhabitants utterly mad. Perpetrators are a combination of tourist companies, media outlets and law enforcement officials. Residents don’t care if it’s the President—they can’t take it anymore. There were over 300 noise complaints from helicopters alone in 2013, according to New York Daily News, and some have even started petitions claiming that the choppers’ ear-splitting sounds have “negatively impacted the quality of their life.” Hence, if you’re seeking peace and quiet, don’t look to the sky.

If the city’s unanticipated cacophony of sounds has you concerned for your sanity, it may be time to turn to the Soundproofing experts. With noise being the top quality of life complaint in NYC, CitiQuiet’s Soundproofing Window Systems will put an end to the sly noises that perpetually sneak their way into your house or workspace. Your ears—and mental health will thank you.

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