Produced by

The Ill Effects of Urban Noise

Monday, September 21, 2009

Be it sirens, jackhammers, or your neighbor's too-loud TV, noise is everywhere in the urban landscape. Today, we'll talk about how to protect yourself from all that racket with guests Arline Bronzaft, Chair of the Noise Committee on the Mayor's Committee on the Environment of New York City, and composer Raphael Mostel.

Blog: John Schaefer on the effects of urban noise

Soundcheck received an overwhelming response to our segment on the effects of urban noise. So much so that Arline Bronzaft decided to address the feedback.


Arline Bronzaft and Raphael Mostel

Comments [94]

ATE from Jackson Heights, NY

Why, oh why, at nearly midnight are we hearing jackhammers outside our window?!!! In a snow storm, at that?!!! WTF?! Isn't there a law against this? Who do I call?!

Dec. 19 2009 11:54 PM
Rudy from NYC

My husband and I have lived peacefully in a townhouse for years until a few months ago when a couple moved in with their child and nanny. The building is not insulated at all and the structure is wood. Suffice it to say that the the child running back and forth and back and forth on hard wood floors starting at 5 am in the bedroom above ours is driving us completely bonkers! This goes on for hours at a time and moves from one room to the hall to the next room and back again. We have tried to gently approach the neighbors and they smile and apologize to our faces and then close the door and the noise starts up all over again. We both work 60-70 hours a week and are sleepless and starting to get a little strung out. We love our apartment, have just had a rent reduction for being good tenants and now we'll probably have to move unless we want to go to court. NYC needs to make soundproofing mandatory in multiple family homes. People pay too much to live here to have to endure this kind of torture!

Nov. 05 2009 06:50 PM
paul grigsby from midwest

My wife and I have been listening to the Tao of the Kung for years to chill out and or sleep. If you turn it up to the level of the ambient noise, no matter what that may be; airplanes, cars, horns, sirens, it doesn't matter too much; it tends to create a cadence with all the distracting noise and brings it into focus through a common cadence like an orchestrated work. Check it out, it may help with the sanity factor. Tao of the Kung. there's an mp3 on the site. Peace

Nov. 04 2009 12:45 PM
Daron Harris from Astoria

No offense,

But the production of the music undermines the "legitimacy" of the supposed recording dates etc. The "circa 1962" track played had a synthesizer backing that killed it. Those sounds didn't exist then. Great concept, but tighten up the forensics.



Oct. 26 2009 02:36 PM
Joan R from near Columbus Circle

Please see my blog; it's called Designing for Quiet. We need to move from private noise (noisy neighbors)to public noise, the machines and designs of our streets, our built environment. We need to RE-DESIGN the machinery that plagues us: from garbsge and delivery trucks to leaf-blowers. Cities (and suburbs) are noisy, but they don't have to be that way. There are many examples from engineers and designers, especially in Europe, where the EU enforces standards for trains, and all sorts of public conveyances. Let's call on your creativity and experience. Please post to contribute to a conversation about designing for quiet. My blog is new, but it comes from long research on this topic. Soundcheck could take up this critical issue!

Oct. 20 2009 03:29 PM
MeHereDefenseless from UWS-Manhattan

I am suffering with inconsiderate neighbors to the point where, even with earplugs and a noise machine on, I am awaken at ungodly hours to thumping, pounding, slamming of doors-so-hard-it-shakes-the-foundations of this brownstone, excessive levels of music, unpadded televisions, etc. I feel like Peter and the Beanstalk with giants living above and next door - FEE, FIE, FO FUMMMMMMMM!!!! The stress to my heart and self gets unbearable -it wakes me beating hard and settles only after an hour or so, and I'm too exhausted from the anxiety and insomnia on top of it all to do anything about it. I lose hours every day of my life. And, I can feel my resistances dropping so that I'm becoming vulnerable to illness. Plus, I've been advised that, in court, it's my word against the others, who all deny their shenanigans and maintain their innocence. I considerate it harrassment. But, mostly its friends and relatives of the landlord. When I fight back, it doubles and triples in intensities. Councilwoman's office advised me to call 911, but have been afraid and loathe to use emergency resources on bullies. I know it's that because on Sundays, they are quiet. Or, when they think I'm not here. I feel it's a losing battle, and who wants to take up more energy fighting it. Sad, tired, lonely, and sleepless.

Oct. 20 2009 01:21 PM
Jen from UES

My husband and I live on the top floor of a walk up building so we don't have to deal with loud neighbors above us. We are very considerate of our neighbors, both below us (never wear our shoes indoors, keep stereo and TV to a respectable volume) and next to us, and it seems to be reciprocated as I think we must live in one of the quietest places possible in NYC. Not sure how much of it is the pre-war walls or just particularly quiet neighbors.
However, of course there has to be something to annoy the living daylights out of me. We are just off of 1st Ave and the sound of dump trucks going over the smallest bump or pothole makes the loudest racket imaginable when their empty-not even sure what they are called-the dump part of the truck?!-vessels bang up and down loudly. VERY loudly. Why can these not be tied down so they don't create such an ear shattering crash, multiple times, at every bump in the road?
Don't even get me started on car alarms...

Oct. 01 2009 08:32 AM
Inwood Resident

Piggy-backing on myurbandecay's and Marjorie's comments about noise in Inwood and Washington Heights, I have a question about Bronzaft's recommendation to work with community boards to deal with noise:

I have learned from many in the community that numerous conversations with (in our case) CB12 and the 34th precinct have revealed little movement towards long-term solutions to noise problems in these neighborhoods.

In my case, I can often hear drag-racing and extremely lould music on West Dyckman St. from my apartment.

This, despite the fact that I live over 6 blocks away from where the noise is happening (Yes, it's that loud!)

Any recommendations on what can be done when speaking local organizations (and precincts) provide little or no long term solutions?

Sep. 24 2009 04:12 PM
Ruby from tribeca

Finally a voice of reason and understanding, thanks Arline.
We have been on both sides of the noise problem. Downstairs neighbor complained about our kids and upstairs neighbor will not stop his nightly post-midnight stomping.
And there is no end to the ubiquitous headsplitting motorcycle noise,city or country. Seriously, why do harmless people get hefty parking tickets while the obnoxious fools on rumbling machines go free? One mufflerless motorcycle produces many times more noise than a car. And most are recreational, at other people's expense.

Sep. 23 2009 11:15 PM
Mimi from Bergen County

There's a different kind of noise that's getting to me. It's "beep." Do you remember when "beep" meant only life or death? Microwaved coffee's warm -- beep. Car's backing up -- beep. Smoke detector needs a battery -- beep. It's 9 pm in the concert hall -- watch goes "beep." Dishes are clean -- beep. Beep, beep, beep. Run around the house and check everything. Where's the beep coming from? Give up after several hours and go to the store -- beep. Check handbag. Cell phone -- beep. Message: we had a cancellation. Do you want to come in at 10:30? It's now 3:30!

Sep. 23 2009 08:14 PM
Connie from Westchester

Just read Gene's comment about the golf course. I live across a road from a golf course. I agree with his criticism. The compulsion to eat at the restaurant so much each month was one of several reasons I no longer am a member. Regarding noise... I've had an ongoing battle with a landscape person who would start up his loud leaf blower every morning at an ungodly hour so the fancy "golfers" would not have to see any untidy leaves or grass clippings on the ground. I am luckier than his brother, however, as they don't do maintenance work on this couse at night. One good thing about golf courses is that they preserve open space...albeit "private" open space.

Sep. 22 2009 03:41 PM
Elizabeth J from Manhattan

It's a pretty sad state of affairs when the last place for (relative) peace & quiet is the subway, b/c there's no cell service down there.

Sep. 22 2009 12:02 PM
Elizabeth J from Manhattan


It's a pretty sorry state of affairs when the last place for (relative) peace & quiet is the subway b/c there's no cell service down there.

Sep. 22 2009 12:00 PM
Marjorie J. Clarke Ph.D from Inwood

Inwood has long been suffering with an increasing amount of nighttime summer weekend noise (boom cars, motorcycles, drag racing, bar/restaurant/night clubs, you name it). Dyckman Inwood Noise Action (aka DIN Action) has been trying to grow large enough to be effective in directing enforcement resources to this problem. Joining DIN Action is free:

One idea I have to reduce boom cars is to make it illegal for NYC stores to install these types of audio systems into cars, and to allow videotape from citizens to be used in court to shut down these businesses.

Sep. 21 2009 10:27 PM
Robinson from Bronx

Im so glad to hear this topic. My problem is the noise from a music festival on Randalls Island called electric zoo and it loud spanish dance music on and off through out the late evenings to midnight. At first I thought it came from my building because it was so clear. it started during the summer on weekends.Its good there is 311 but it didnt help this matter even after several calls.

Sep. 21 2009 06:57 PM

Good point re: suburban noise from Connie.

My brother lived on a golf course, a dream for many, and for him.

For me, a nightmare. There's this small army that constantly roams the grounds, trimming trees, carting away debris and tree limbs, digging up turf, spreading pesticides, driving trucks, always on the move, roaring, raging, roaming all day and half the night. It was like a real-life "Love in the Ruins" (Walker Percy) without the gunfire.

(And don't start me on the perennial harassment of having to eat at the Club's own restaurant 4 or 5 times a month.)

There are some things in life I just don't get, don't understand why anyone cares--Golf clubs are one.

Sep. 21 2009 04:53 PM
myurbandecay from Washington Heights

Cars blaring noise, fights, motorcycles going hog wild on the sidewalks you name it we got it. All this nonsense happens in Washington Heights between the hours of 1am-6am.

I've recorded so much of this nonsense on video that I could pretty much make a full feature film on. But don't take my word for it watch the clips for yourselves.

Sep. 21 2009 04:49 PM
Connie from Westchester

A caution to all those who want to relocate to the suburbs...the burbs have their own brand of noise pollution. They range from school busses, delivery trucks backing up at 5 am to make a delivery, garbage trucks, motorcyles, speeding drivers in revved-up sports cars and the ABSOLUTE WORST sound, even worse than any city sound...the weed-wackers! I forgot to mention loud handyman tools for weekend "do-it-yourself types", excessive horse-powered lawn-mowing equipmwent and leaf blowers. Has anyone ever heard of a rake to pick up the leaves or a broom to sweep a deck or porch floor?

Sep. 21 2009 03:49 PM
Voter from Brooklyn

Jim from Jackson Heights, I feel your pain. Though the block parties I mentioned above were ephemeral (three in 2.5 months lasting about 9-12 hours each) and not daily like shop fronts, the music was played from DJ stations with stand mounted and ground mounted speakers with music levels loud enough to rattle windows and framed photographs on interior walls, vibrate walls and floors, and be audible through closed windows, closed doors, and on the opposite side of the apartment. 311 and the 72 precinct (Sunset Park, Windsor Terrace, Gowanus, Lower Park Slope) said there was no problem and no action would be taken because of a unregulated CB issued noise permit. The permit apparently also allowed profanity laced lyrics (ni**er this and bi**h that at 9am Sunday morning.) The only offer for remedy was calling the CB on the following day when they would be open and the damage would be done. My apartment sat empty parts of those three days; the only legal remedy was leaving, losing use of my apartment.

Sep. 21 2009 03:23 PM

I'm sorry to see the motorcycle complaints here.

My neighbor lived on Bleecker St., and got the city to establish 24-hour no parking zones along much of it, to discourage the packs of motorcycles which had so tormented her. But the rules have been relaxed in the last year--nights are open for parking.

Sep. 21 2009 03:18 PM

Landlords should be held to account also.

Modern techniques can easily turn a ceiling into a drumskin for upstairs footfalls.

Sep. 21 2009 03:09 PM
Melissa from Brooklyn/Queens border near Flushing Ave

Have lived in a top floor loft for nearly 5 years. The noise and vibration from roof parties has literally caused emergency fire pipes to spew water in some of the other lofts in our building. Our neighbors on one side were first an abusive, loud fighting couple. When they moved out it was a drunk couple of Dutch carpenters who blasted music sometimes until 3 to 4am. (I had to be up at 6am for work.) I resorted to sleeping on the bathroom floor with the exhaust fan on for sound barrier. My heart palpitated. How to deal?

Sep. 21 2009 03:02 PM
tricia royal from Chelsea, Manhattan

our upstairs neighbors, two guys (might be brazilian? :)) moved in at the beginning of august and since then, they have partied 3-4 nights a week with pounding base until all hours. if there was some way to block it out, we would. we've tried the "ask nicely" tactic, many many times, and they just politely respond, "we're young and we're not going to stop partying..." guess that old saying, "if it's too loud, you're too old" could perhaps be true? except, we're not that much older than these guys, we just keep different hours and habits. we're paying good money for our quiet...they are paying good money for their alleged right to party. who wins? guess we lose.

calling the landlord does nothing, and 311 is a joke, the cops say they come, but we've never seen a sign of them.

you can get used to some noise here in the city, but i ask: when does it become too much? is there anything you can do about it? seems like a losing battle.

Sep. 21 2009 02:48 PM
tricia royal from Chelsea, Manhattan

our upstairs neighbors, two guys (might be brazilian? :)) moved in at the beginning of august and since then, they have partied 3-4 nights a week with pounding base until all hours. if there was some way to block it out, we would. we've tried the "ask nicely" tactic, many many times, and they just politiely respond, "we're young and we're not going to stop partying..." guess that old saying, "if it's too loud, you're too old" could perhaps be true? except, we're not that much older than these guys, we just keep different hours and habits. we're paying good money for our quiet...they are paying good money for their alleged right to party. who wins? guess we lose.

calling the landlord does nothing, and 311 is a joke, the cops say they come, but we've never seen a sign of them.

you can get used to some noise here in the city, but i ask: when does it become too much? is there anything you can do about it? seems like a losing battle.

Sep. 21 2009 02:47 PM
Jim from Jackson Heights

I’ve complained about noise many times – through 311, directly to my local precinct, to my city council member, through my local community board, and even to Mayor Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Kelly - with little effect. Basically the police have little interest in enforcing the noise code. I complained through 311 and later to my city council member about a number of stores in my neighborhood which were projecting amplified sound onto the sidewalk, and in every case, the follow-up report said that police went there and found “no violation in progress” – which suggested that the police didn’t know the law. I wrote to the mayor and police commissioner about it, and about a month later, two officers from my local precinct called me about it, and very unenthusiastically said they were going to do something about it – and they did. I checked and at least one of the stores is no longer doing it. But it should not have taken that kind of effort to get the police to enforce the law.

Sep. 21 2009 02:42 PM
KZ from NYC

I've had two wars with noisy neighbors. At first I was very nice and politely told them what the problem was, which didn't work in either case. I pretty much had to go nuclear before the problems were solved.

The first was a dog that barked constantly from the time the owner left in the morning until she came home at night. After getting no joy from the apartment management after months of this (I was freelancing from home), I recorded the dog for an hour, then played it back on a Friday evening when the neighbor was trying to relax. Police were called, and I discovered that it is against the law for a dog to bark more than 15 minutes. I got the police to ticket my neighbor. Within day of more or less completely losing my mind, the problem was solved.

The second was an awful woman who allowed her child to run for hours right above my head, all day and late into the night. In this case, it took multiple complaints to the management. Eventually she was told she had to stop or had to move.

In both cases, I got the noise to stop, but I know that the stress was very detrimental to my health and well-being. And I found it outrageous how unresponsive authorities were until the situations became intolerable.

Sep. 21 2009 02:41 PM

Loud motorcycles are incredibly bad. I've been in a street-side apt. when one goes by, and it's horrendous. All conversation has to stop; and there is NO level of TV sound you can set high enough--you just miss the program's sound for 10-20 seconds.

My neighbor, who lived on the street, felt she was going insane. She had to fight all through the 90s to get a parking ban in front (20 cycles at a time would park there, roaring off at all times of night) and proper enforcement.

The 6th Precinct, in the Village, while not perfect, is pretty good about controlling motorcycle noise these days.

Sep. 21 2009 02:40 PM
Gail from Brooklyn

Please advise who to contact to find out why the flight pattern seems to have been redirected over our neighbourhood (Prospect Heights) for planes landing at LaGuardia. Is there anything that can be done about this? Thanks.

Sep. 21 2009 02:39 PM
Lindsi from manhattan(work)/brooklyn(live)

I just wanted to leave a positive comment. Noise is a part of life; we close off the world with our ipods and music players, etc. Yes, sometimes it is bothersome- but so is the brightness of the sun and I'd never want to get rid of that or complain that it shines.

Sep. 21 2009 02:38 PM
Cynthia Vos from Brooklyn

A new level of hell has been introduced to the subway system, with the alarmed exit gates.
What the hell do they accomplish but to make New Yorkers' lives miserable.

Sep. 21 2009 02:38 PM
Carrie from Brooklyn

I can hear my neighbor hocker in his shower - every day - and plunge his toilet, among other icky things I won't mention.

Sep. 21 2009 02:36 PM
Effie from Manhattan

In the past I have called and complained and even had the epa visit but coincidentally the visit coincided with an unnatural silence. Is this a case of bribery?

Sep. 21 2009 02:36 PM
Gary from from Greenwich Village

motorcycles, motorcycles, motorcycles... especially with no mufflers and igniting every car alarm of every parked car!!! Expecially down Bleecker Street post midnight Thursdays through Sundays...

Sep. 21 2009 02:36 PM
Anne from Astoria

I've called numerous times on a bar a few doors down from us that typically had loud "open mic" nights on some work days. I tried calling the place but they didn't answer the phone (probably because they couldn't hear it) so I resorted to calling 311 no less than 5 times. Had they simply closed their back door to the garden area, it would have been tolerable. It is damn near impossible to get the DEP folks to come out for a noise that does not happen on a regular basis and is after hours. So really, the whole process is pointless.

Sep. 21 2009 02:34 PM
debrah from soho, manhattan

Downtown has become a noisy battleground for construction. Soho still has artists who live and work in their studios. We are captives to constant jack hammering, demolition, road work, sewer work, electric work - one following the other. Our glass and steel buildings are no protection from the cacophony below.

I called 311 to complain after days of jack hammering in my street. Earplugs didn't work. When I was finally located the correct operator, she could not find Greene Street - one of Soho's most venerable cast iron building streets - on her computer, even after I gave her the zip code! Consequently she would not take the complaint. I did discover that several contractors have permits to work through November. This work has been going on for the past year.

What can one do? It is impossible to work with noise at pain level.

Sep. 21 2009 02:33 PM

It's terrific to hear Ms. Bronzaft being so direct and sensible about this.

Undesirable music becomes the worst kind of noise -- because of its very un-randomness. It can often be unavoidable to get caught up in (and recognize) music that is driving one crazy. To wit - I once had neighbors playing 60's and 70's rock and roll about 16 hours a day; and it was as loud in my apartment as I would have played it for myself.

Sep. 21 2009 02:33 PM
Carol from Park Slope

I live on a side street between 7th and 8th avenues. My dinning room windows face the street. The dinning room is where my computer is, and where I do a lot of work.The street has become a truck route and the noise going up the block is so loud that sometimes I feel like I can't hear myself think. Also, there are times when I can't hear that one thing I want to hear from WNYC as the trucks go barreling up the block wipes it out.
Also there are days when I can hear entire family conversations from my neighbors outside the window. An air-conditior is just too expensive and I like fresh air. What's a person supposed to do.

Sep. 21 2009 02:33 PM
Jennifer from Hoboken, NJ

Regarding big booming cars - I call them Kazoo cars! ever notice how they shake and vibrate like kazoos??

Sep. 21 2009 02:33 PM
beth from manhatten

I get very frustrated and upset when running in central park and I can't hear myself think over the unnecessary traffic on the park loop. It's sad that you can't even escape the noise and fumes of traffic while in the park.

Sep. 21 2009 02:31 PM
Daniela Gioseffi from Brooklyn Heights, New York City

The ear phones that people wear to listen to music and iPods are a big distrubance on public conveyances. One hears the annoying rhythym of the music, but not the music and the sound that broadcasts outside the ear phones to the public space is very disturbing to someone attempting to read or sleep or just rest. The constant cha cha chacha sound is extremely annoying. Plus, we will have a whole generation of deaf people with tinitis asa result. There is no cure for tinnitis, a ringing or throbbing in the ear that is incessant.

Sep. 21 2009 02:31 PM

I'm glad to hear the comment about 'cultural differences' came up. For a moment, I was beginning to worry that I was a racist. But it is true. Latinos are definitely LOUD people. With the influx and growing population in my changing neighborhood, I've noticed a severe increase in noise. But what to do?

Sep. 21 2009 02:30 PM
Effie from Manhattan

I live over a bar that I can hear especially during the weekends but I am on the 6th floor. Last Saturday the bass was so strong it felt like the building was vibrating. When I sleep I use a air purifier to create white noise but awake I feel irritated and distracted. What can I do about these habitual offenders. I grew up in Manhattan does this mean my heart is damaged

Sep. 21 2009 02:29 PM
Voter from Brooklyn

Ms. Bronzaft,
I have spoken with my local precinct about block parties with noise permits and they said community board issued permits do not constrain music levels and they will take no action whatsoever.

Sep. 21 2009 02:29 PM
Carol from Manhattan

It is very hard to get EPA to measure noise levels at night ... response to complaint calls to the police community affairs are not always given priority ... There should be some coordination with DOB on permits for new construction or renovations of restaurants or facilities that plant to use live or recorded music, as well as licensing boards, like the Liquor Authority, etc.

Ms. Bronzaft is correct that NYers are very tolerant of the noise around the city, but tenants have a right to peace and quiet in the places where they live. Please provide a link to the EPA noise code that she referenced.


Sep. 21 2009 02:29 PM
Leah Ansel from Manhattan

This is such an important topic! Thank you for doing a show on it.
I just moved from a beautiful apt after 5 years - mainly because of the noise! The trucks keep getting bigger and louder.
The motorcycles should be banned!!!
I noticed the noise levels definitely made me very agitated and angry!
I called 311 many times but all they can do is register a complaint.
Thank you again.

Sep. 21 2009 02:29 PM
Jennifer from williamsburg

I own a small bar (not a club) with my husband and sister. We've been open for 7 years. We chose a location one block from the BQE on a commercial street. We purposefully looked for a location that had limited residential neighbors. We are getting more noise complaints this year than ever before. Part of the problem started when Mayor Bloomberg outlawed smoking and smokers were forced outside. This business supports our family completely (one child and one on the way). We can't afford to lose it or move it. I wish that before anyone chooses to move into an apartment that he/she consider what businesses are open at what time in the area. When we are personally looking for an apartment we have specific criteria that needs to be met for many personal preferences.

Sep. 21 2009 02:29 PM
jc from brooklyn

we seem to be a society addicted to noise and the constant wall of sound. even the finest restaurants have loud music playing. this incessant wallpaper. what happened to conversation. it's as if bars and restaurants need to broadcast their place is "happening" by turning up the volume and have their customers shouting on top of it. so not sexy, fun, interesting or relaxing, merely exhausting...
(one thing i enjoyed in frank bruni's reviews was the rating on the noise level)

Sep. 21 2009 02:28 PM
Gaby from Brooklyn

I love New York and have lived by the BQE in Brooklyn for over a year--I "adapted" to the general rush of cars, but sometimes, like last night when I was sick with a cold and struggling to sleep, the rumble of giant garbage trucks makes me wish i lived in a monastery. Several times I heard the roar of a motorcycle that I thought was a plane about to crash into my apartment or drop a bomb.

Sep. 21 2009 02:28 PM

Every apartment building I have ever lived in for the past 8 years has come equipped with an opera singer who insists on practicing at home in the evenings and on weekends. If you ask me this is far worse than just listening to loud music, since to "practice" means to go over and over that one part of the aria that just doesn't sound right! The worst part is the way that multiple buildings share a shaftway precludes finding the person responsible and having a civilized discussion about it.

Sep. 21 2009 02:28 PM
Niki from Williamsburg, Brooklyn

I have a very embarrassing problem! I have been startled awake by the vocalizations of my downstairs neighbors. It's great that they are enjoying each other, but it is REALLY out of control. Always occurs at 3:30-4:30 am, prime REM sleep. How do I address this? A note on the door? It sounds funny... but it is really quite upsetting.

Sep. 21 2009 02:27 PM
Patrick from Brooklyn

Car alarms! Why do people still get these installed? All they do is make noise. Dumbest technology ever.

Sep. 21 2009 02:27 PM
RAI from Manhattan

3 (among many) pet peeves about noise:

1. Hovering helicopters
2. Engine brakes ("Jake brakes") on trucks
3. Loud motorcycle exhausts

Are there enforceable rules governing this?

Sep. 21 2009 02:27 PM
Edward from NJ

I once had a downstairs neighbor who had an infant who cried all hours of the day and night. I never complained. Then one day the neighbor knocked on my door and requested that we "not walk around with the high heels late at night" because it was keeping his baby up. We didn't wear high heels around the apartment, but oh well.

Sep. 21 2009 02:27 PM
Tom Wurl

I live and 13th Street and Avenue A. We have al least 9 bars within 500 yards of the intersection. Many of these
bars have large windows fronting the street and music
comes out unto the street until 4AM. A police officer told me that if sound comes from an establishment to "lure"
customers it is unlawful. Is that true.

Thanks, Tom

Sep. 21 2009 02:26 PM
T from New York

two words... China Town.

Chinese speakers speak louder than any culture. Also its sounds like everyone is arguing.

Sep. 21 2009 02:26 PM
robert from brooklyn

Your car engine will continue to run even if you resist the compultion to honk the horn.

Sep. 21 2009 02:26 PM


"Do buses have blow your eadrums when the front suspension moves up or down 4 inches?"

I HATE this. It's completely unnecessary.

Recently our street was repaved, and some cars had still remained parked despite the warning signs. Instead of simply towing the cars, the city sent a truck to drive around the neighborhood at 8am with an extra large megaphone speaker telling people to move their vehicles. The frequency of the announcements actually made me wake in a panic, because I thought there was some national emergency. I was shaky all day. HOW is this a good idea, especially after such events as 9/11?

Sep. 21 2009 02:26 PM
Tim from UWS

Noise in NYC? Where do I start...

I've lived in the city for 2 years now and have made only minimal progress in being able to ignore the constant din. I wake up to the sounds of delivery trucks and buses at 5 am on Broadway. I go to sleep listening to the neighboring building's HVAC unit.

Currently, I work from a home office with a window facing the building 'courtyard'. For the last two weeks, workers have been using the space as they install new windows, with no apparent respect for residents in the facing apartments. Today, they are running a circular saw almost continuously. My brain is rattling...

Sep. 21 2009 02:26 PM
Seth Gordon from Lower East Side

Re: Adaptation - I've found that after twelve years in the city I need the general hum of noise in the background to sleep. When I visit friends out of town I can't sleep for the life of me. Crickets just don't cut it anymore.

Sep. 21 2009 02:26 PM
Justin Kennedy-Grant from Inwood, NYC

In my experience those that play their music beyond the common levels of courtesy for their neighbors are the same people that lack the courtesy to respond positively to a polite request to turn it down.

Sep. 21 2009 02:25 PM
Dee Alpert from Upper West Side Manhattan

When a real estate developer did work (illegal) this past February on the building next to the one where I live, the noise was so horrific that my blood pressure went to dangerously high levels for the first time in my life. My doctor advised leaving my apartment when this work is being done.

NYC DEP did nothing about it although we measured illegally high noise levels.

Seems like NYC's govt. feels that dangerously high noise is an acceptable part of NYC real estate development and citizens who suffer serious negative health consequences are acceptable collateral damage on the road to "best, highest use" of land here. If they keep this up, the best, highest use will be mausoleums.

Sep. 21 2009 02:25 PM

My speakers on my laptop won't go any louder but I still can't hear this program over the jackhammers outside my window. What did you just say?

Sep. 21 2009 02:25 PM
Alison from Inwood

In the courtyard of neighboring building there are parties just about every week in the summer (and in winter when it's warm enough) that is so outrageously loud it reminds me of the noise-torture used in Abu Ghraib. That may sound like an exaggeration, but I'm dead serious. My floorboards vibrate, I can't hear myself think, I shut the windows and turn on the AC fan on high to try to block it out, but often it's so loud that those measures are worthless. The music is often on from mid-morning (while they're setting up) until 3 or 4am. I've tried calling 311 and the 34th precinct directly, but nothing ever changes. I'm at a loss and seriously considering moving, though I really can't afford to and I otherwise like my apartment, building, and neighborhood. Any advice?

Sep. 21 2009 02:25 PM
Robots Need 2 Party from NYC

Neighbor's noise is a separate issue. Let's talk about city noise. I have a bus stop outside my window and it seems to be the first stop of the route for 2 buses. They don't just pull in, pick up passengers and leave, which is noisy enough with the screeching breaks, and beeping warnings. The buses stop and wait before starting their scheduled route. They've stopped idling all the time but now they turn off and wait. When they start again the noise the starter makes is terrible. Its very loud and sounds like a lug nut gun used in NASCAR or something. Its at least 4 times an hour. This isn't some noise that someone is being inconsiderate and choosing to make. I can't ask someone to stop making this noise. The noise that the city itself makes is unavoidable. What about that?

Sep. 21 2009 02:25 PM
Bru from Manhattan

Regular carpets are not always enough to protect the residents of a lower floor from a neighbors who walk around barefoot, or in their socks, under the false impression that they're being considerate. In fact the calcaneous, or heal bone act as drum sticks, creating an insufferable vibrating noise, which startles, not only the ears, but the, mainly, the heart. Such noise, unintentional as it may be, robs the lower floor neighbor of their quiet enjoyment. Hard as they may try, people who, otherwise, adapt to noise, cannot adapt to that startling vibration.
Great Topic!!!

Sep. 21 2009 02:25 PM
Cynthia from Long Island

This isn't just a City problem. Even out on Long Island, apartment building are noisy especially on the street level. Inadequate windows seem to be a big part of the problem: the front door slamming, passing cars and trucks, neighbors making international calls outside late at night, and trucks idling out side 711 while they eat their sandwichs at 3am.

Sleep deprivation is a problem

Sep. 21 2009 02:25 PM
Paul Chenard from East Village

Stop the honking cabs and cars. In the East Village we have signs that say you will receive a fine for honking and cabs and cars honk with no fear. We do a poor job of enforcement in the city.

Sep. 21 2009 02:25 PM
Ellen from morningside heights

Are there laws about sound levels for ambulance, fire truck and police sirens? Do these vehicles really need to use their sirens as much as the do in this city?

Sep. 21 2009 02:25 PM
Karen OT10 from Westchester Cnty

insomnia is a serious and dangerous problem and although it is fueled by other stresses in life and hormonal life changes for example, noise pollution is a major contributor

Sep. 21 2009 02:24 PM
Jeff from Flatiron


Sep. 21 2009 02:24 PM
Richard Mitnick from Highland Park, NJ

Just tuned in.

Paul Simon song:

"One man's ceiling is another man's floor.

Sep. 21 2009 02:24 PM
Vinny_G from The Upper West Side Of Manhattan

I think noise violators should be shot on sight (on site?) but only with a silenced weapon.

Sep. 21 2009 02:24 PM
Maggie Tobin from Brooklyn

P.S> I've been in touch with the city council, the community board, our precinct...

Sep. 21 2009 02:24 PM
Nora from Brooklyn

I hear frequent loud arguments of the couple that live above me. Fortunately I think following their dramatic relationship is much better than watching a reality TV show. I wouldn't change a thing.

Sep. 21 2009 02:23 PM
derek from Brooklyn

(sigh) This is the reason I'll have to leave NYC someday--so listening to your segment is poignant. I have lived in an apartment where the landlord has been doing construction for 8 months straight. Totally renovated the upstairs apartment and now they are totally renovating the downstairs apartment (I'm on the second floor in between the two). They routinely work until 9pm on weeknights and have been doing SATURDAY construction for the entire 8 months straight. IF i went to the city about this, I would automatically go to war with my landlord and my rent would be increased to the point of extremes next you can't win. Same thing with lousy neighbors--if you knock on their door every night about their annoying stereo then you live with the constant tension that you are at war with them--which is more stressful than dealing with the noise.
Little things I'd love to hear addressed--there is NO enforcement of the idling bus these days (especially the little blue buses for elderly and overweight church ladies which have incredibly loud diesal engines and idle for hours on end). How about leaf blowers?? Is there a more ridiculous human invention? Living across from a small college (St. Joseph's College in Brooklyn) has driven me batty with these machines and their custodial penchant for blowing the leaves 1 foot from the sidewalk to the street. much more. (sigh)

some day I dream of a house with freedom of noise. Amen.


Sep. 21 2009 02:23 PM
Dorothy from Manhattan

If it weren't for Macs ear plugs I would be insane, seriously.

Sep. 21 2009 02:23 PM
Marcelo from Park Slope

the high pitched squeal of the breaks in the older trains in the subway is DAMAGING to riders ears. They are dangerously loud!!!

Sep. 21 2009 02:23 PM
Maggie Tobin from Brooklyn

Why are religious institutions exempt from the noise code laws? This has caused SO MUCH FRICTION in our neighborhood. The mosque on our corner has the call to prayer 4 times a day that is frighteningly loud. Many have asked to have to the volume lowered but because there are no laws, nothing is enforced. It is the difference between being sung to and being shouted at.This goes for ALL religious institutions, not just mosques-

Sep. 21 2009 02:22 PM
Voter from Brooklyn

What we need desperately in this city is a noise code based on both sources, duration, and decibel level.
My local community board approved block parties with amplified music (three between late July and early September) with noise permits allowing unrestrained decibel levels (music peppered with profanity). The NYPD refused to respond saying they could play whatever they want as loud as they want because they had a permit. All block parties were on Sundays within 500’ of the same location (two were in the exact same location) and the longest lasted from 9am to 9pm. This was all perfectly legal and un policed.

Sep. 21 2009 02:21 PM
Adam from Brooklyn

I can hear my downstairs neighbor snoring. Do I have a complaint? Can I take her to court?

This would be ridiculous, of course. If I wanted to be isolated from noise, there are plenty of places I could live that aren't NYC.

Folks need to understand that living in such proximity to others means giving up the quiet of the countryside.

Sep. 21 2009 02:20 PM
Betty Anne from UES

It seems as I age I have become more sensitive to sound. Is this typical of aging?

Sep. 21 2009 02:20 PM
Jack from Brooklyn

The Pete Townshend anecdote is completely off. The major—MAJOR!—blow to his hearing was being too close to an explosion Keith Moon set in his drum set during a Who appearance on "The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour" in 1967.

Sep. 21 2009 02:20 PM
Daniel Falgerho from Manhattan

Question for your guests:
Do heavy vehicles really have to emits loud piercing sounds when backing up? Do they need to be heard 5 blocks away?
Do buses have blow your eadrums when the front suspension moves up or down 4 inches?
To what purpose? What effect could it have on the drivers exposes to it for 8 hours?
Thank you, great program (s) great work1

Sep. 21 2009 02:20 PM
Sam from NYC

It's nice to hear Ms. Bronzaft "talk" about noise being imposed undesirably on others. At our place, 92-96 Elizabeth St., the downstairs restaurant has a big exhaust shaft going all the way from the ground floor to the roof, passing by the outside of many apartments. We complained, through 311 a # of times about the noise when the restaurant is operating during the day. DEP inspectors came, measured, and issued noise violation notices. Nothing ever happened. Nobody went to jail. What does she have to say now? Talking is OK, but not productive.

Sep. 21 2009 02:20 PM
db from nyc

... how about the chronic and very loud, "salsa" "block" party in some neighborhoods. why do these folks think this is aright???

Sep. 21 2009 02:20 PM
Sabrina from Manhattan

Help! Madam Chairwoman, the worst, unbearable noise in the city comes from screeching subway cars. Riders plug their ears with their finger to survive the noise. You speak of responsibility; what about the city's responsibility to take action to remove the emotional and physical stress resulting from this truly destructive noise. It is inhumane.

Sep. 21 2009 02:19 PM
Mary Mills from Jersey City NJ

The two cycle generators used by all kinds of construction indoor and outdoor and for some pest control and other companies are terrible. If you watch these things you see they belch smoke and are often left running unattended, yet New York has not banned them . If you have one in your neighborhood, you know it right away. Very very noisy. Sometimes they work through the weekend.

Sep. 21 2009 02:18 PM
frank from Newark NJ

Watch out for Brazilian neighbors, they are the loudest of them all, and they don’t care what you think. This can ruin a relationship and drive you to suicide. This is no lie. I live in a Brazilian community in Newark NJ.

Sep. 21 2009 02:18 PM
Tom from UWS

I'm on a commercial street and feel used to the din, though even 6 flights up friends on the phone ask "Where ARE you?!" But city buses now provide an unending repetition of a shrill sound effect each time they stop. What possible need is there for that shriek?

With 3 lines converging here at 72nd & Broadway, and 3 bus stops within half a block, it sometimes sounds like the 5th circle of hell.

Sep. 21 2009 02:18 PM
david from ditmas park

id like to hear about...boom cars...go

Sep. 21 2009 02:17 PM
Liz from Manhattan

We have a huge problem in West Harlem with a restaurant which has been given a permit for live outdoor music. The noise/music can be heard all over the neighborhood from 8:00pm to 2:00am on Sunday nights. Last night at midnight the noise was rattling our windows. I have emailed and called our community board, 311 and the 30th Precinct to no avail.

My questions are: Can I see the permit the community board has given the restaurant? Does a music permit allow an establishment to exceed the noise code? How can I make this stop?

Sep. 21 2009 02:13 PM
Liz from Manhattan

We have a huge problem in West Harlem with a restaurant which has been given a permit for live outdoor music. The noise/music can be heard all over the neighborhood from 8:00pm to 2:00am on Sunday nights. Last night at midnight the noise was rattling our windows. I have emailed and called our community board, 311 and the 30th Precinct to no avail.

My questions are: Can I see the permit the community board has given the restaurant? Does a music permit allow an establishment to exceed the noise code? How can I make this stop?

Sep. 21 2009 02:13 PM
Rowshan Small from Brooklyn,NY

I have a neighbor who plays her stereo and home
theater system so loud that it makes the walls and floor vibrate.This neigbour has created sure a problem for the other tenants that the landlord
has to take her to court because she is in violation of the housing noise codes.

Sep. 21 2009 01:28 PM
Cenk Hardt from Jackson Heights

This is my third apartment in my second year in NYC, thanks to poor sound isolation in buildings and very "respectful" neighbors. If in a day I am listening to the tvs' of not more than two neigbours, I feel lucky that day. Is there anything in NYC that may save us from the noise of our respectable neighbours?

Sep. 19 2009 11:17 PM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.