At first glance it seemed like one of those silly, obvious-trend pieces for which the New York Times has become increasingly famous. Basically: New York City is loud (and the NY Times is ON IT). But you know what? The city IS loud. And despite some noteworthy aural improvements, quality-of-life-wise (remember when everyone first got car alarms, and they used to go off ALL THE TIME? Or when the door between subway cars stayed open for your entire ride because that hook thing wouldn’t latch and it was like listening to a jackhammer all the way home?), it seems to only be getting more noisy every year. Forget the promised jet packs… where are our whisper-quiet jet packs?!?
The Times tossed around a bunch of theories as to why life here in the big town is louder than ever. The construction boom of the past decade (there was a break for the recession, but building permits are right now at a five-year high) is certainly to blame, as is the fact that crews are more likely today to be given the go-ahead to work through the night. Not to mention that entire residential/retail neighborhoods–with attendant bars, restaurants, and roaring rooftop air conditioners and heating units–have been built where only warehouses and such once stood. Other culprits, depending upon where you live, include an exponential increase in commercial helicopters (especially in the summer, flying the wealthy to the Hamptons), and those glass-skinned residential towers that are coveted for their views and light, but don’t do a very good job at keeping out sound, both from within the building and from the street below.
So what can you do? Acceptance seems to be part of the answer–if you need complete silence to sleep, for example, perhaps NYC isn’t the best fit–but it also helps to spend time during your day/week in one of the city’s many oases of quiet. And here the Times did something awesome: an interactive map of the city on which readers can post their personal favorite quiet spots. And post they have! There are currently 806 suggestions on the map, with more coming in all the time. The Peter Pan Gardens in Carl Schurz Park, The Cathedral at St. John the Divine in Morningside Heights, Transmitter Park in Greenpoint, the Irish Hunger Memorial in Battery Park City, the Noguchi Museum in LIC, the Conservatory Gardens in Central Park, the central plaza at Columbus Circle, with its noise-canceling fountains (really! you should try it!)… the list goes on and on. And coincidentally, our friends at Curbed recently put together a map/listing of 40 Secret Gardens, Parks and Green Spaces, which reveals more than a few hidden gems throughout the five boroughs.