No doubt, you’ve been hearing from friends and neighbors that “New York is back” based on the pop of activity in and around the five boroughs. It’s a stark contrast to where the city was last year when shelter-in-place precautions were taken due to the coronavirus pandemic. Folks stayed home, businesses were shuttered, parties were canceled and Gotham — for the most part — went quiet.
Today, it’s a completely different scenario.
According to New York’s Covid-19 tracker, over 70 percent of New Yorkers 18 years and older have received at least one vaccine dose. Restrictions were lifted and the city is bustling again just in time for summer. With that comes plenty of street sounds: cacophonous construction, blasting pub music, or rambunctious parties being thrown in the next-door apartment.
For some, it’s a sign of vibrancy and the way New York is supposed to be. Like the revelers of yore who celebrated on the heels of the 1918 pandemic with the “Roaring 20s” — we find ourselves on the cusp of The Roaring 2020s.
Some of us, however, are louder than others and that may be to the dismay of our neighbors. And with July 4th right around the corner, the volume will only get pumped up even higher. Complaints have (and will continue) being made. To better understand how neighborhood noise levels have changed over the past few years, RentHop took a look at the 311 noise complaints.
Here’s what we discovered:
- New York City is getting louder and louder. From March 1, 2021, to June 14, 2021, the city saw in total 242,141 noise complaints, 21.5% higher than the previous year.
- Manhattan became the noisiest NYC borough. The borough saw in total 74,319 noise complaints from March 1, 2021, through June 14, 2021, 50.9% higher than the previous year. [Figure 2]
- The loudest NYC neighborhood, after normalization, is Crotona Park East in the Bronx. The neighborhood received in total 2,443 complaints or 3,534.4 complaints/10k households. [Figure 3]
- In Manhattan, Lincoln Square saw the most dramatic increase this year in terms of noise. The neighborhood received 2,148 complaints between March 1 and June 14, 302.3% more than last year.
- In Brooklyn, Williamsburg received the most complaints this year — 3,746 or 1,953.9 complaints/10k households.
- In Queens, Kew Gardens Hills topped all others as the loudest neighborhood. The neighborhood saw a total of 3,178 complaints or 2,395.8 complaints/10k households after normalization.
Noise Complaints by NYC Day
We started out by looking at the number of noise complaints filed to NYC 311 every day. Figure 1 below shows the number of complaints per day since Jan 1, 2019, along with the daily average each month. As we can clearly see from the overlaying scatter plot, while June 2020 by far had the most noise complaints, so far, NYC has seen more noise complaints than previous years this year.
Noise Complaints by NYC Borough
Next, we looked at the number of noise complaints reported in each NYC borough. As shown in Figure 2, all boroughs experienced an increase in noise complaints. Manhattan has seen the most drastic year-over-year increase. The borough received a total of 74,319 noise complaints from March 1, 2021, to June 14, 2021, 50.9% higher than the same period last year. Meanwhile, noise complaints went up 29.3% in Queens and 12.1% in Brooklyn. When comparing by the count, Manhattan has now surpassed the Bronx as the loudest NYC borough.
How Noisy is Your Neighborhood?
The interactive map below highlights the number of complaints each neighborhood received from March 1 to June 14, 2021, and from March 1 to June 14, 2020. Orange indicates a year-over-year increase in the number of noise complaints, whereas yellow indicates fewer noise complaints in 2021 than in 2020. You can click on the neighborhoods to learn more about the rankings, the total number of complaints, the number of noise complaints/10k households, as well as year-over-year changes.
Noise Disrupted the Quality of Life in Most Manhattan Neighborhoods
Using data collected between March 1 through June 14, neighborhoods that experienced the largest increases year-over-year include Lincoln Square, West Village, Upper East Side-Carnegie Hill, and the Upper West Side, many of which are some of the most prominent and luxury neighborhoods in NYC.
- Lincoln Square: 2,148 complaints in 2021 (YoY 302.3%)
- West Village: 3,644 complaints in 2021 (YoY 246.1%)
- Hudson Yards-Chelsea-Flatiron-Union Square: 5,925 complaints in 2021 (YoY 237.0%)
- East Village: 3,383 complaints in 2021 (YoY 227.8%)
- Upper East Side-Carnegie Hill: 1,114 complaints in 2021 (YoY 167.8%)
Only three neighborhoods saw a decline in complaints, which include Manhattanville (-19.6%), Stuytown (-13.0%), and Lower East Side (-8.2%).
72% of Brooklyn Neighborhoods Saw an Increase in Noise Complaints
Of the 50 neighborhoods in Brooklyn, 36 of them, or 72% experienced a jump in the number of noise complaints filed to 311. Neighborhoods that experienced the most drastic hikes include:
- Starrett City: 90 complaints in 2021 (YoY 90.0%)
- Williamsburg: 3,746 complaints in 2021 (YoY 70.7%)
- Windsor Terrace: 305 complaints in 2021 (YoY 63.1%)
- Prospect Heights: 909 complaints in 2021 (YoY 55.9%)
- East New York: 2,156 complaints in 2021 (YoY 47.9%)
Noise Complaints Spiked in 47 of 59 Queens Neighborhoods
Queens residents have noticed a lot more noise complaints this year. Between March 1 and June 14, 2021, NYC 311 received in total 43,873 complaints regarding noise in Queens, 29.3% more than last year. 83% of Queens neighborhoods experienced an increase in complaints, including:
- Woodside: 1,078 complaints in 2021 (YoY 138.5%)
- Elmhurst-Maspeth: 307 complaints in 2021 (YoY 132.6%)
- College Point: 1,528 complaints in 2021 (YoY 127.4%)
- Kew Gardens Hills: 3,178 complaints in 2021 (YoY 118.3%)
- Glen Oaks-Floral Park-New Hyde Park: 148 complaints in 2021 (YoY 111.4%)
Life Seemed Louder in 75% of the Bronx Neighborhoods
The Bronx was historically the noisiest borough in New York City until it was outpaced by Manhattan this year. Neighborhoods that received the most complaints this year in the Bronx are:
- Crotona Park East: 2,443 complaints in 2021 (YoY 133.1%)
- Soundview-Bruckner: 2,567 complaints in 2021 (YoY 122.3%)
- Mount Hope: 5,207 complaints in 2021 (YoY 87.2%)
- Bedford Park-Fordham North: 3,737 complaints in 2021 (YoY 76.8%)
- Claremont-Bathgate: 2,036 complaints in 2021 (YoY 64.9%)
Interestingly, Williamsbridge-Olinville, which received the most complaints last year between March 1 and June 14, only had 3,230 this year, which translates to a 68.5% year-over-year decrease.
Staten Island Might not Be As Quiet As Before, with 15 of the Neighborhoods Seeing a Jump
While life in Staten Island might still be quieter than everywhere else in the city, residents have more to say about the worsening noise situation. From March 1 through June 15 this year, residents filed 5,100 complaints, and the neighborhoods that saw the largest increases include:
- New Brighton-Silver Lake: 244 complaints in 2021 (YoY 55.4%)
- Stapleton-Rosebank: 577 complaints in 2021 (YoY 29.7%)
- Todt Hill-Emerson Hill-Heartland Village-Lighthouse Hill: 218 complaints in 2021 (YoY 24.6%)
- Arden Heights: 202 complaints in 2021 (YoY 23.9%)
- Grasmere-Arrochar-Ft. Wadsworth: 110 complaints in 2021 (YoY 22.2%)
- Rossville-Woodrow: 132 complaints in 2021 (YoY 22.2%)
Here are the Loudest Neighborhoods in NYC
When Are New Yorkers Most Troubled by Noise?
To find out how life in New York might be affected as the city reopens, we also took a look at the time when complaints were filed. Figure 4 below breaks down the noise complaints by the hour. The green bars represent the number of complaints by the hour from March 1 to June 15, 2021.
Notice the uptick in noise throughout 2021. When held up against the data we tracked from 2020 and 2019, it’s clear that this year is a louder one — especially as the hours wind down toward midnight. After being cooped up, the nights aren’t as muted and many of us aren’t pleased with that.
Fireworks — Only on July 4th?
It’s no news that New Yorkers and their furry friends find fireworks bothersome. Up until 2019, the first few booms were most likely heard around late June, as people gathered around celebrating July 4th and beautiful summer after all those dark and cold winter nights. Things, however, have changed quite dramatically in the past couple of years.
This year, New Yorkers started hearing fireworks around mid-May, as the city reopened and people finally had a chance to celebrate their survival after a long, dark year.
Each year, we at RentHop look into NYC 311 noise complaints with the hope of providing renters with useful information. The complaint data was retrieved from the NYC Open Data portal. For this study, we limited the research time frame to March 1 through June 15. We then geocoded the complaints using the Neighborhood Tabulation Areas Shapefile. Note that some areas were renamed to be more recognized, such as Hell’s Kitchen, which is commonly known as the NTA “Clinton”, and Williamsburg, which is commonly known as the “North Side-South Side” NTA. We also renamed the “Williamsburg” NTA to South Williamsburg.
To factor in that larger neighborhoods tend to have more complaints, we further normalized the data by the number of households in each neighborhood. By normalizing using the size of the neighborhoods, we could rank each neighborhood fairly and provide better insights.