8 Noises That Prove NYC Is Still the City That Never Sleeps

Have you ever lived in New York City, left, and then tried to fall asleep in a quiet country or suburb?

It's really eerie and difficult, right? You know how they say you don't know what you've got until it's gone? Well it turns out that applies to street noise, too.

If you've ever spent the night in NYC, you know it's loud. 

Sometimes it's so loud, we get woken up in the middle of the night by our screaming neighbors and honking taxis, only to be shaken awake by construction way too early in the morning.

Gothamist reported that on average, New Yorkers call 311 57,000 times a day, and in the year 2015 New Yorkers called 311 a total of 2,021,074 times, 179,394 of which were to complain about noise pollution.

Since these numbers are publicly available, a group of programmers designed this interactive map, which allows us to browse which areas of the city are the noisiest. 

You can also see which 311 calls were made where, whether people were calling about rodents, blocked driveways, or, yeah, noise.

If you hadn't noticed, NYC is a noisy city. Read on to find out what noises that cause us to lose sleep in the city that doesn't (most likely because of these very noises).

1. Construction

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Oh, dreaded construction!

Whether you live on 2nd Avenue and you've spent the last million years of your life avoiding the drills, saws, and hammers of the 2nd Avenue Subway line, or you live in midtown and you're plagued by the construction of luxury high rises, everyone knows living near construction is the worst.

Everyone who's ever dealt with construction near their apartment knows what it's like to get woken up at the crack of dawn by a power tool or loud construction worker conversations.


Sometimes, it does feel like they're drilling concrete right in your bedroom, but they're not. They're outside. You're still not getting back to sleep anytime soon, though.

They're technically not allowed to start until 7 a.m., but everyone knows they start right at 7 a.m. on the dot. Always. Well, almost always.

2. That bar below your apartment

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Okay, we know that living above a very loud bar can be very fun.

You'll always have a place to go get wild, and you'll never have to take an Uber to get there. Also, odds are you'll go there enough that the bartenders will start remembering your name, and even slip you a free drink or two.

Still, have you heard of fear of missing out, better known as FOMO? This is a peculiar sensation that occurs when you've turned down plans for the night and you're trying to relax, but you can hear everyone having fun at the bar without you.

Besides FOMO-induced anxiety, living above a bar can be lame because of the obvious reason that, you know, you might want to sleep every once in a while.

3. Horns/sirens

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We're talking general noise emitted from cars. Car horns are among the most annoying things in the world at any time of day. Needless to say, the worst time is definitely bedtime.

This category also includes the squeals emitted from bus brakes, and the slamming noise that happens when a bus rolls over a manhole.


Also, sirens are kind of a bummer while we're sleeping. 

First, because getting woken up is the worst, especially when it's 4 a.m. and we have to go to work tomorrow; and second, because we're getting woken up to find out someone is having an emergency medical problem, and that's always pretty depressing.

4. Garbage trucks

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Garbage trucks are their own category because they are exceptionally noisy.

They beep very loudly when they back up, they whir very loudly when they're moving, and they make a lot of loud whooshing sounds when they're actually taking in garbage.

Not to mention the clanging of metal cans when the the trash people actually lift up the garbage can and dump them in the trucks. 

We really do appreciate these guys and we feel bad putting them on blast, but also, sometimes their conversations are loud.


5. People on the street

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Yeah, we know you know. There are 8.3 million people that live in this city, and collectively, all of those people speak as many as 800 different languages.

Of course, maybe most of NYC's residents speak Spanish or English, but that's not the point. The point is that they're speaking whatever language they're speaking really loudly, right below your window.


This is worse for people who live closer to the street. It's not uncommon for street-level apartments to post signs in their windows that read, "People in here are trying to sleep."

It's just weird when you're in your own private oasis trying to fall asleep, and a mere foot away people are yelling at each other in the public property of the street. Welcome to life in NYC.

6. Neighbors

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In NYC, we all live in really, really close proximity to each other.

Sometimes, you're only separated from your neighbors by half an inch of drywall. So when your neighbors are hooking up, or, you know, screaming at each other, that tends to echo in our rooms pretty loudly.

Some people have bedrooms with a wall right next to the building's elevator, and they can hear every conversation happening in the elevator (really). 

Some people's bedrooms are right next to other people's bedrooms, and in NYC we tend to find out way more about these neighbors than we ever wanted to. Yes, even in the middle of the night.

Oh, also, sometimes our neighbors have late-night parties, and those, obviously, can get rowdy and prevent us from sleeping.

7. Buzzers

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If you don't have a doorman, the way you let people into your buildings is by buzzing them in. They stand at your front door and press your apartment number, and you press the "door," button to let them in the building.

Sometimes, you get woken up by the buzzer because your roommate ordered Seamless at 7 a.m. Sometimes, you get woken up by the buzzer because your neighbors got locked out of their apartment, and their master plan was to press every button and hope someone would let them in.


Sometimes, the building next to yours has a really, really loud beeping noise that sounds every time anyone in that building buzzes anyone in, and that tends to wake you up while you're asleep.

8. Trains and planes

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If you live near the Metro-North, you probably hear its whistles. We do.

We mostly don't mind the trains whistling. There's something kind of romantic about hearing a train in the distance.

The only reason it's alarming to hear train noises in your apartment is when you're bewildered because you didn't know there was a train. Once you figure out that it's the Metro-North you're hearing, it's all good.

Oh, also, the subways tend to screech. Living near a subway stop rocks for getting around but for getting to sleep it isn't as great.

If you live near JFK, we're guessing you're constantly plagued by the roar or planes. If that's your situation, you have our genuine sympathy.

Check out 4 Best New NYC Transportation Ideas We're Absolutely in Love With

[Feature Image Courtesy Instagram] 

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