For many tourists visiting New York for the first time, the noise is just part of the authentic Manhattan experience. In the city that never sleeps, you can hear bustling traffic, roaring sirens, street performers, and construction at seemingly all hours of the day and night. While the constant noise may feel innocuous in small doses, residents of the city have had enough. New Yorkers are calling for wider restrictions to control the noise pollution poisoning the city, and for good reason. The sounds of the city can have a lasting impact on the health of those exposed, but just how did New York get to where it is today?
Noise on the Rise through New York History
With over 8.5 million people now calling New York City home, the city is louder than ever. That means even more cars on the road, continuous construction to accommodate a growing population, and trains that run on a nonstop schedule. It may come as a surprise that even dating back to the early 20th century, noise complaints were a common occurrence in New York, particularly around the honks of tugboat horns on the Hudson. In fact, in 1930, a 308-page report titled “City Noise” was published after residents were asked to name the sounds that were keeping them up at night. While no immediate actions were taken as a response to the report, it captures the impact noise had on residents of New York even many decades ago.
It wasn’t until the 80s and 90s that City mayors began instituting a various initiatives to quell the noise. “Don’t Honk” signs warning of fines peppered the city streets, and EPA inspectors rode alongside cops in squad cars hoping to catch individuals blasting music on their car stereos. Despite the numerous efforts to lower the noise in New York City over the years, none have been too successful in making an impact. Today, New Yorkers are asked to dial 311 for noise complaints, which mainly just offers an opportunity to vent.
Just How Loud does New York Get?
Shockingly, New York does not hold the title for loudest city in the world, though it does come close. Measurements taken show that noise levels in the City can reach up to ear-piercing 124 decibels. To put this into perspective, physical pain and injury to the ear can happen when a sound reaches 130 decibels. One of the most common sounds of city includes incessant jackhammering, which averages at about 100 decibels. That screeching subway train? Between 80 and 100 decibels. And let’s not forget midtown traffic, anywhere from 75 to 80 decibels on average.
With noise levels at an all time high, residents are feeling the negative impacts in their daily lives. At the very least, the constant barrage of sounds is annoying and disruptive, turning a normal day at work into a battle for focus and concentration. At home, a solid, uninterrupted night of sleep can feel like a pipe dream. On an more serious note, research has shown that continuous exposure to noise pollution can have serious impacts on human health, leading to issues such as hearing problems, diminished cognitive functioning, sleep disturbances, and even cardiovascular problems.
Combatting the Noise
With little coming in the way of widely instituted noise ordinances in the city, residents have taken matters into their own hands to create quiet spaces for themselves at home and work. By implementing soundproofing measures, individuals and families can create a barrier between themselves and the ruckus that would otherwise disturb them to no end. Some of the most common measures for combating the noise include:
Investing in thick curtains: believe or not, fabric is a powerful weapon against city noise. Hanging thick curtains in your home or apartment will dampen sounds and reduce echoes throughout your space. Though a little pricey, there exist specially designed noise-absorbing curtains for the sole purpose of canceling out sounds.
Minding the gaps: if it feels as though conversations had on the other side of your door are taking place in the room with you, you may have a gap problem. Open gaps under doors and in windows are a common contributor to excessive noise in a home or work space. Fortunately, there is a quick and easy fix to address this problem. Simply purchase door sweeps or seals and to fill the gaps and dampen the noise. Even better, you’ll save on heating costs in the winter.
Installing soundproof windows: those ready to take the soundproofing of their space to the next level should seriously consider soundproof window inserts. Though many are intimidated by thought of making changes to their windows, the process is actually very quick and painless. The best part about soundproof windows is that they are capable of blocking out up to 95% of external noise.
In most cases, as is the case with CitiQuiet, soundproof windows do not require any alterations to your existing windows. In fact, the soundproof windows are installed over your windows, creating the buffer needed to absorb city sounds. CitiQuiet offers a range of soundproof windows compatible with virtually any style of window.
There is so much beauty in New York that draws people from all over the world to visit and even stay permanently. Don’t let the noise stop you from enjoying all the Big Apple has to offer, and create the peaceful oasis you need in your home to relax and recharge. Contact CitiQuiet representatives today to find the soundproof window solutions right for your space.