Assessing New Yorkers’ Noise Complaints in the 1920s

Posted on: October 17th, 2013 at 6:10 am by
Photo: The Roaring Twenties

Photo: The Roaring Twenties

Living in Manhattan, it’s impossible for most residents to avoid at least the ambient noise – traffic, fire engines, motorcycles, horn honking, truck downshifting, kids playing, etc. Others, such as those dwelling in over-saturated bar areas (i.e. Hell Square) face bass, screaming (woo-hoos), broken glass, etc. Yet what about previous generations of New Yorkers? Specifically during the Depression era. What noise was most prevalent at that time, and what particularly pissed them off? “The Roaring Twenties” website attempts to address those very questions.

Thanks to historian Emily Thompson and designer Scott Mahoy, this interactive online project maps (using an era-appropriate overlay) the incidence of city noise in the early part of the 20th century. There is both audio and video to sate your appetite for the ephemeral. It’s certainly fascinating to see what people complained about during that time.

henry-st-noise

Here are some choice complaints from the Lower East Side environs:

  • Rubin Davidson of 190 Stanton Street complained about the noise eminating from “electrical machines” at the B. Bloom Factory next door (7/8/1930).
  • Dr. L.A. Cranin of 173 Henry Street didn’t like the “shrill whistle on a bus carrying crippled children to the [nearby] Henry Street School.” (6/27/1930)
  • Lena Jacobowitz of 332 Stanton couldn’t handle the blacksmith’s shop in her building (6/26/1931).
  • Occupants of 368-370 Madison complained about the auto service station at #374 (9/12/1927).
  • C.B. Bishop of 14 Irving Place wasn’t too pleased about the clamor from the outdoor loudspeaker of the Irving Place Burlesque Theater (4/29/1930).

Check out the website for more, as there’s no embedding. It’s a time suck…

noise-nyc-map

[via Gizmodo]

Recent Stories

Sampling the Lost Cuisine Found in ‘The German Jewish Cookbook’

In our current food-obsessed culture – especially in places like New York City – it seems that we are global food citizens. We have easy access to an endless variety of restaurants and specialty food stores, which enable us to explore foods from all over the world. And we can easily watch a multitude of […]

Lakwena Brings her Kaleidoscopic Vision to the Bowery Mural Wall

The season is changing, which means another participant for the revolving door that is the Bowery Mural Wall. Earlier this week, contractors sanded then resurfaced the two-story canvas in preparation for the next artist on the docket. We are told that the latest is Lakwena, a London-based artist who specializes in colorful, “kaleidoscopic” patterns. She […]

Six Years Later, Dewey Dufresne’s ‘BYGGYZ’ Finally Opens on Clinton Street

Don’t hold your breath any longer, for the time is here. Dewey Dufresne’s sandwich shop, BYGGYZ, finally debuted on the Lower East Side. The promise is fulfilled. BYGGYZ opened at 37-39 Clinton Street yesterday afternoon for the lunchtime rush. Truth be told, it bears an old-school, albeit welcome, deli counter vibe. (The previous tenant was […]

‘Van Leeuwen’ to Open LES Artisanal Ice Cream Shop on Ludlow Street Next Month

It’s been over a year since the music died at 172 Ludlow Street. That’s when Ludlow Guitars decamped from the Lower East Side after spending seventeen years on the block. Now its former Hell Square headquarters – where the business had moved in 2010 – is to become a trendy ice cream parlor. Artisanal ice […]

‘Marm Cafe’ on Clinton Street is Kaput, Transitions to ‘Bricia’

The end of the road is here for Marm Cafe. The three-year-old corner establishment at 79 Clinton Street hasn’t been open since at least mid-August, its fate finally sealed this week with those brown paper shades. We communicated with ownership via email several weeks ago and were told that the cafe was actually on holiday. […]