Noise Tops the Charts

Noise Tops the Charts

Maxwell Ryan
Jul 7, 2004

Mayor Mike says it loud and clear, "Keep it down!" With the Mayor's declaration of war on noise last month, this week's article, How Loud Is It? (NYMag), is an especially good read. Armed with a noise meter, an intrepid reporter treks around the city with noise specialists and tells us just how loud it is (Image by Mckibillo). The results are...loud. While normal conversation is 65 decibels, and noise above 85 can damage your hearing, noise on the streets...

..generally hovers around the 70-decibel level, roughly the output of a coffee grinder. Many locales were worse, like the island at 72nd Street and Broadway on the Upper West Side. The traffic roaring downtown registered 79 decibels, with car horns spiking as high as 90. In Times Square, it measured 80 decibels by the Army recruitment post, 90 when the cabs surged by like spawning salmon.

While noise is the biggest complaint to 311 in the city, our noisy city gets worse when spontaneous noises take over, like a barking dog or a metal plate hitting tires in the roadway. These are the noises that get people angry and which spike the meter. But, to be fair, in reading all of this we were reminded of Maira Kalman's children's books in which she celebrates the cacophony and noisyness of the city like a big jazz band. MGr

- Bloomberg annouces noise legislation (
- Assessment of Bloomberg's announcement (
- What to do about noise (PubAdvocate)
- Google noise alert (Google)

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