While many people count sheep as they fall asleep, New Yorkers are more accustomed to counting the number of times someone lays on their car horn when we're trying to slip into dreamland.
Finding peace and quiet is a luxury in this 24-hour city: Subways, traffic, bars and sidewalk noise sound off around the clock. But some neighborhoods aren’t as bad as others, and it's not impossible to find one where you can live with a little calm.
In the city that never sleeps, here are some popular nabes where you either can or definitely can't get some shut-eye:
Upper East Side/Upper West Side
These areas “tend to be quite domestic in relation to the rest of the city,” said Frances Katzen, managing director at Prudential Douglas Elliman. “They are quiet and have an ebb and flow to them. Similar to a suburb, it tends to quiet down a lot in the early evenings.” But that’s because there’s very little nightlife in the area.
Ask a New Yorker: Christina Mancini wasn’t necessarily seeking a quiet place to live when she moved to the UWS from Chelsea in January, but the “quietness and cleanliness has become my favorite part of the area,” she said. Mancini, 24, admits that there aren’t many restaurants near her 91st Street home, but “there is no part of the city that has all of the bars or nightlife or restaurants, so that should not be a deciding factor,” she said.
TriBeCa has fewer people per square foot than most Manhattan neighborhoods, explained Shakti C’Ganti, associate broker at the Corcoran Group. And with low-rise buildings featuring apartments that are four to five times larger than the average, “you have a lot of buildings with only 20 to 30 residents each versus a high-rise luxury tower, where you have hundreds.” Plus TriBeCa has fewer big-box retailers and more art galleries and boutique shops, C’Ganti added.
Ask a New Yorker: Jenelle Hamilton was looking for a quiet refuge when she moved to her Murray Street pad from the Lower East Side. “It starts to become too much when there are drunk people walking around the street and you can hear them from your apartment,” Hamilton, 32, recalled about the LES. “It’s nice to escape to a place that is quiet and has a sense of community.” But TriBeCa’s slower pace comes with a price: “Everything closes so early!” she said.
Battery Park City
Isolated from the rest of Manhattan, Battery Park City can feel like its own little world. “It really is an enclave of its own, surrounded by water on three sides,” said Gary Malin, president of Citi Habitats. “While there are plenty of eating and drinking options in the neighborhood … [it] has a relaxed, low-key air about it.”
Ask a New Yorker: Meghan Rovelli, another LES transplant, used to live above the F train and a Whole Foods where delivery trucks were a constant disruption. “You don’t hear those noises here,” said Rovelli, 31, of her new home on River Terrace, where she moved with her husband and 1-year-old in July. BPC is perfect “if you’re not ready to leave the city but want to be a step closer to the suburbs.” Of course, transportation isn’t directly underfoot anymore. “It’s a little far from the subways,” she said.
West Chelsea/Meatpacking District
The High Line has helped the continued transformation of this area from an abandoned neighborhood to a thriving community, Malin noted — but with that has come a lot of commotion. “On weekend nights, the cobblestone streets in the area are crowded with party-seekers,” Malin said, pointing out that the neighborhood’s bars and clubs are among the city’s trendiest. And new residential developments are exploding there, making it only more crowded.
Ask a New Yorker: “The noise is part of it for me, not a trade-off [to live here],” said Joel Shoemaker, 35, who moved to 17th Street, between Eighth and Ninth avenues, in May. “If you don’t want buzz and commotion of some sort, you’re in the wrong city.” And no matter how loud it gets, he’ll never be bored: There are the pool parties at the Dream Hotel next-door, shopping at Chelsea Market a block away, gatherings at the Gansevoort and, naturally, watching Anderson Cooper sweat at his nearby gym. (“OK, he doesn’t sweat — at all. It’s weird!” Shoemaker said.) Still, a lot of kids from nearby schools fill the streets in the afternoons and early evenings, and that tends to get a little annoying, Shoemaker added.
Brooklyn? What’s so loud about Brooklyn? Well, it’s not that it is noisy, but that it will be. Once the new Barclays Center opens, the usually serene neighborhood will be bustling with new business and loud sports fans, Katzen said. Some have even suggested that the area will become Brooklyn’s answer to Times Square — much to the chagrin of all the families who thought they’d found a quiet perch there.
Ask a New Yorker: Katie Kapoor loves the quaintness of Willoughby Street, where she has lived for five years. But she said that she may be moving soon if the Barclays Center proves to bring too much noise to the neighborhood. “I’m worried that this area will get louder and more crowded once the Barclays Center brings more traffic,” said Kapoor, 34. “I think people are worried — rightly so — that it is a large-scale project [that] doesn’t really fit into the fabric of [Fort Greene]. The sentiment in this neighborhood is to develop, not destroy, Brooklyn.”
East Village/Lower East Side
“I could probably spend my entire life trying to go to every bar in the East Village, but I still wouldn’t get to every one of them,” C’Ganti said. “The East Village definitely takes the award for most bars per square block.” Translation: You could be up all night, since everyone else is.
Ask a New Yorker: “You get used to it,” said Emily Schildt of all the noise on the LES. The 24-year-old moved to Allen Street in September. “The loud conversations and cab traffic blend together to create a sort of city melody. … The noisy bustle never makes you feel alone.” The neighborhood is ideal for people who want to “live where they play,” she added.