For a good night’s sleep, move to Midtown

By William Sturek  | March 11, 2010 - 5:57AM

Here's something downtown and Midtown developers may want to start writing into their marketing materials.

According to 311 records for 2009, the fewest residential noise complaints in Manhattan emanated from the neighborhoods comprising Community Board 5 (Midtown), and Community Board 1, a.k.a. Tribeca, the Financial District, Battery Park City and the Seaport.

Toting up just 403 and 436 complaints respectively, these relatively quiet zones logged around 93 percent fewer residential noise complaints than the loudest area--Washington Heights/Inwood--where 6,439 such grievances were filed last year.

“It was ridiculously loud,” recalls former Washington Heights resident Alinca Hamilton, who says loud music was a big culprit. “You would have thought you were at a Bachata concert.”

The residential noise category includes banging, pounding, loud music, talking, and television noise made by area residents, says Nick Sbordone, 311’s director of external affairs.

There are separate complaint categories for noise disturbances related to commercial properties, houses of worship, parks, streets/sidewalks, and vehicles.

After the Washington Heights/Inwood areas, Community Board 10—Harlem—took second-most noisy place with 4,152 complaints.

Community Board 3, which includes the East Village, the Lower East Side, and Chinatown, came in third noisiest. Residents filed 3,637 complaints in 2009.

One Alphabet City resident told BrickUnderground that bars are to blame.

“It’s not loud because of the residents but because of the bar crowd,” she says.  “The summertime is especially bad if you have to keep the windows open.  It seems like an ongoing party in the streets.”

Steven Chan, who has lived in Chinatown the last 25 years, blames the bar crowd as well.

“To be honest,” says Chan, “the only intrusive noise I hear comes from the non-Chinese bar hoppers.  They shout out in the streets late at night, laughing and screaming for cabs.”

Here are the 2009 residential noise complaint totals sorted by community board, as provided by 311’s Sbordone:

CB1: 436
CB2: 1,290
CB3: 3,637
CB4: 1,821
CB5: 403
CB6: 1,155
CB7: 3,483
CB8: 1,461
CB9: 3,369
CB10: 4,152
CB11: 3,132
CB12: 6,439

Unfortunately for the audio afflicted, noise complaints don’t necessarily add up to much else besides these figures.

As an excellent article in the Gotham Gazette recently pointed out, the city mostly treats noise complaints as non-emergency quality-of-life issues, meaning it could be a while until your neighbor receives a knock on the door from the proper authorities.

Related links:

NYC Noise Code

Noise code violation penalities

Related posts:

Fighting noise with noise

BrickUnderground's Noisy Sexy Neighbor Survey Results 

The agony of the ecstasy: Four tips for overcoming loud neighbor sex

Why anonymous letters don't work

The 8 worst neighbors


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