Would You Rather?

A fire station or a busy bar: which NYC noisemaker is a worse neighbor?

By Mayra David  | July 25, 2014 - 3:59PM

The cacophony of the city is unavoidable, and two of the biggest sources of sound pollution in NYC are, of course, sirens and nightlife. So we asked five noise warriors: would you rather live by a fire station or above a popular watering hole?

  • Bars all the way There are four bars immediately in my vicinity, there’s live music and a lot of loiterers and smokers outside them. But they don’t ever really bother me—like, at all.  Sure there’s some noise,  but the loudest music stops at decent hours. Then it’s just laughing and talking people. Windows take care of the loudest conversations. And I love that I can go out, drink and meet people, and then my stumble home is no more than five minutes. If I lived directly above a cool bar, why even better! I can install city windows if it gets to be too much noise.  - Reema, Brooklyn
  • No wails please I’d rather have the drunk voices from bars than the insane wails of fire trucks. Is there anything worse than New York City sirens—not to mention those fire truck horns?! I know it’s all part of living in the city, and I know almost nobody is exempt from the sounds of sirens. But to hear that every time they leave on an emergency—no way! Never. Living above a bar, I think, would become white noise after a while. You just get used to it. Plus, you’d have the benefit of, you know, having a bar right downstairs. -Danny, Harlem
  • Not a fan of sports fans I think I’d rather live right by a fire station. Especially if it’s true they don’t turn on their sirens till they exit the streets. I’m a fan of firemen. I’d rather have them as neighbors than a bunch of drunk hipsters and sorority sisters out-screaming each other. I work from home, so [daytime sports games] would definitely not work for me. - Matthew, Washington Heights
  • Love firefighters, but not the noise I love the FDNY, but no I don’t want to be anywhere close to where they turn on their sirens and blare their horns. Are you kidding? I have two young kids! Having said that, I wouldn’t like to live above a bar either… but if I had to choose, that would be my preference. Plus, Daddy sometimes needs a break… .  - Mike, Inwood
  • Biased opinion I own a bar—a very popular one—and we don’t get any complaints from the neighbors. Our customers are all local, and the building is new and well built. So I don’t see any downsides to living above a bar. I know the noise level in bars can be very high. But even then what makes everybody jump out of their seats is when a fire truck zooms by, with sirens and horns. - Chris, Harlem

Results: Hopping bar: 4, Heeding the siren call: 1

Verdict: Bars win (by a landslide).

See all Would You Rather


Which is better: A party 'hood or a sleepy spot?

Would you rather live next door to loud lovers or loud kids?

When it comes to building perks, New Yorkers are divided

It's construction season. Can soundproof windows really block the noise?

What matters more? Location or amenities?

Brick Underground articles occasionally include the expertise of, or information about, advertising partners when relevant to the story. We will never promote an advertiser's product without making the relationship clear to our readers.