No doubt you’ve heard friends and neighbors say that “New York is back” because of the pop of activity in and around the five boroughs. It’s a stark contrast to where the city was located last year when shelter-in-place precautions were taken due to the coronavirus pandemic. People stayed home, businesses were closed, parties were canceled, and Gotham – for the most part – fell silent.
Today is a completely different scenario.
According to the New York Covid-19 tracker, more than 70% of New Yorkers 18 and older have received at least one dose of the vaccine. The restrictions have been lifted and the city is back to life just in time for summer. This is accompanied by many street sounds: cacophonous construction, explosive pub music or lively parties organized in the apartment next door.
For some, it’s a sign of vibrancy and the way New York is meant to be. Like the revelers of old who celebrated in the wake of the 1918 pandemic with the ‘Roaring 20s’ – we find ourselves on the dawn of The Roaring 2020s.
Some of us, however, are louder than others and this can be to the dismay of our neighbors. And with July 4th fast approaching, the volume will only rise even higher. Complaints have been (and will continue) to be filed. To better understand how the neighborhood noise levels have changed over the past few years, RentHop looked at all 311 noise complaints.
Here’s what we found:
- New York City is getting louder and louder. From March 1, 2021 to June 14, 2021, the city registered a total of 242,141 noise complaints, 21.5% higher than the previous year.
- Manhattan has become the noisiest neighborhood in New York. The borough has seen a total of 74,319 noise complaints from March 1, 2021 to June 14, 2021, 50.9% higher than the previous year. [Figure 2]
- The noisiest neighborhood in New York, after normalization, is Crotone East Park in the Bronx. The district received in total 2,443 complaints or 3,534.4 complaints / 10,000 households. [Figure 3]
- In Manhattan, Lincoln Square experienced 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 / 10,000 households.
- In Queens, The Hills of Kew Gardens surpassed all others as the noisiest area. The neighborhood received a total of 3,178 complaints or 2,395.8 complaints / 10,000 households after normalization.
Noise Complaints By New York Day
We started by looking at the number of noise complaints filed at NYC 311 each day. Figure 1 below shows the number of complaints per day since January 1, 2019, as well as the daily average each month. As we can clearly see from the overlaid point cloud, while June 2020 had by far the most noise complaints, so far NYC has seen more noise complaints than in previous years this year.
Noise complaints by the borough of New York
Next, we looked at the number of noise complaints reported in each New York borough. As shown on the Figure 2, all the boroughs experienced an increase in noise complaints. Manhattan experienced 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% more than the same period last year. Meanwhile, noise complaints rose 29.3% in Queens and 12.1% in Brooklyn. By comparison, Manhattan has now overtaken the Bronx as the noisiest borough in New York City.
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 March 1 to June 14, 2020. Orange indicates year-over-year increase in the number of complaints relating to noise, while yellow indicates fewer noise complaints in 2021 than in 2020. You can click on the districts to find out more about the rankings, the total number of complaints, the number of noise complaints / 10,000 households, as well as year-to-year changes.
Noise has disrupted the quality of life in most areas of Manhattan
Using data collected between March 1 and June 14, the neighborhoods with the largest year-over-year increases are Lincoln Square, West Village, Upper East Side-Carnegie Hill, and Upper West Side, many of which are among the most important. and luxury neighborhoods in New York.
- Lincoln Square: 2,148 complaints in 2021 (302.3% yoy)
- West Village: 3,644 claims in 2021 (Annual 246.1%)
- Hudson Yards-Chelsea-Flatiron-Union Square: 5,925 complaints in 2021 (237.0% yoy)
- East Village: 3,383 claims in 2021 (227.8% year-on-year)
- Upper East Side-Carnegie Hill: 1,114 complaints in 2021 (year-on-year 167.8%)
Only three neighborhoods recorded a drop in complaints, including Manhattanville (-19.6%), Stuytown (-13.0%) and Lower East Side (-8.2%).
72% of Brooklyn neighborhoods have seen an increase in noise complaints
Of Brooklyn’s 50 neighborhoods, 36 of them, or 72%, saw an increase in the number of noise complaints filed to 311. The neighborhoods that saw the most drastic increases are:
- Starrett City: 90 complaints in 2021 (Annual 90.0%)
- Williamsburg: 3,746 complaints in 2021 (70.7% yoy)
- Windsor Terrace: 305 complaints in 2021 (63.1% yoy)
- Prospect Heights: 909 complaints in 2021 (55.9% yoy)
- East New York: 2,156 complaints in 2021 (47.9% year-on-year)
Noise complaints increased in 47 of 59 Queens neighborhoods
Queens residents have noticed many more noise complaints this year. Between March 1 and June 14, 2021, NYC 311 received a total of 43,873 noise complaints in Queens, up 29.3% from last year. 83% of neighborhoods in Queens have seen an increase in complaints, including:
- Woodside: 1,078 complaints in 2021 (year-on-year 138.5%)
- Elmhurst-Maspeth: 307 complaints in 2021 (year-on-year 132.6%)
- College Point: 1,528 complaints in 2021 (127.4% yoy)
- Kew Gardens Hills: 3,178 complaints in 2021 (Annual 118.3%)
- Glen Oaks-Floral Park-New Hyde Park: 148 complaints in 2021 (YoY 111.4%)
Life seemed noisier in 75% of Bronx neighborhoods
The Bronx was historically the loudest neighborhood in New York City until it was overtaken by Manhattan this year. The neighborhoods that received the most complaints this year in the Bronx are:
- Crotona Park East: 2,443 complaints in 2021 (133.1% yoy)
- Soundview-Bruckner: 2,567 complaints in 2021 (122.3% year-on-year)
- Mount Hope: 5,207 complaints in 2021 (87.2% yoy)
- Bedford Park-Fordham North: 3,737 complaints in 2021 (76.8% year-on-year)
- Claremont-Bathgate: 2,036 claims in 2021 (64.9% YR)
Interestingly, Williamsbridge-Olinville, which received the most complaints last year between March 1 and June 14, only received 3,230 this year, which translates to a 68.5% drop. from one year to the next.
Staten Island might not be as calm as it used to be, with 15 of the neighborhoods seeing a jump
While life on Staten Island may be even quieter than anywhere else in the city, residents have more to say about the worsening noise situation. From March 1 to June 15 of this year, residents filed 5,100 complaints, and the neighborhoods that saw the biggest increases are:
- New Brighton-Silver Lake: 244 complaints in 2021 (55.4% year-on-year)
- Stapleton-Rosebank: 577 complaints in 2021 (29.7% year-on-year)
- Todt Hill-Emerson Hill-Heartland Village-Lighthouse Hill: 218 complaints in 2021 (year-on-year 24.6%)
- Arden Heights: 202 complaints in 2021 (year on year 23.9%)
- Grasmere-Arrochar-Ft. Wadsworth: 110 complaints in 2021 (year-on-year 22.2%)
- Rossville-Woodrow: 132 claims in 2021 (year-on-year 22.2%)
These are the noisiest neighborhoods in New York
When are New Yorkers most disturbed by noise?
To find out how life in New York City might be affected by the city’s reopening, we also looked at when the complaints were filed. Figure 4 below breaks down noise complaints by the hour. The green bars represent the number of complaints per hour from March 1 to June 15, 2021.
Notice the increase in noise throughout 2021. Compared to the data we’ve been tracking from 2020 and 2019, it’s clear this year is noisier, especially as the hours decrease around midnight. After being locked up, the nights are not so quiet and many of us are not satisfied with that.
Fireworks – Only July 4th?
It’s no news that New Yorkers and their furry friends find fireworks annoying. Until 2019, the first booms were likely heard around the end of June, as people gathered to celebrate July 4th and the beautiful summer after all those dark, cold winter nights. Things, however, have changed quite drastically over the past two years.
This year, New Yorkers started hearing fireworks around mid-May, as the city reopened and people finally had the chance to celebrate their survival after a long, dark year.
Every year at RentHop, we review NYC 311 noise complaints in the hopes of providing tenants with useful information. The complaint data was taken from the New York Open Data portal. For this study, we limited the search period from March 1 to June 15. We then geocoded the complaints using the Neighborhood Tabulation Areas Shapefile. Note that some areas have been renamed for more recognition, such as Hell’s Kitchen, commonly referred to as NTA “Clinton”, and Williamsburg, commonly referred to as NTA “North Side-South Side”. We have also renamed the NTA “Williamsburg” to South Williamsburg.
To account for the fact that larger neighborhoods tend to have more complaints, we further normalized the data based on the number of households in each neighborhood. By normalizing using neighborhood sizes, we could rank each neighborhood fairly and provide better information.