Louis Valentino, Jr. Park and Pier — 71.9 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Louis Valentino, Jr. Park and Pier is located in Red Hook, Brooklyn, just a few blocks away from the ferry station for the new South Brooklyn ferry route.  The park includes a fairly large expanse of grass at the water’s edge, perfect for a picnic (grab a small key lime pie at Steve’s Authentic Key Lime Pies next door), an afternoon nap, or to catch some sun.  Or you could you could enjoy some free kayaking courtesy of the Red Hook Boaters (it’s free, but they do ask that you help with a little beach clean up afterwards).

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

We won’t say that the park is totally quiet, because it isn’t–you’ll hear the occasional airplane flying overhead and ferries and other motorized boats pass by–but most of the sound you’ll hear is the wind and water lapping against the jetties coupled with occasional snippets of conversation from people nearby.  A space doesn’t need to be totally quiet to be serene.

Louis Valentino Jr. Park and Pier is lovely and comfortable place. No doubt the park is busier on weekends, and an increase in human activity will mean a concomitant increase in sound, but during the week the park is perfect. We recommend it.

HOURS

Dawn to dusk, everyday

LOCATION

(betw. Coffey and Van Dyke Streets), Brooklyn, NY 11231

WEBSITE

Louis Valentino, Jr. Park and Pier

Elizabeth Street Garden — 65.7 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Looking for a really peaceful enclave in Nolita?  Then run, don’t walk, to Elizabeth Street Garden.  The garden’s future is uncertain, so use its now and help those who are trying to preserve it.   The garden is the biggest green space in Nolita and, unsurprisingly, it is under threat of development.  Unlike other green spaces, Elizabeth Street Garden is not a city park though the land is city-owned.  We hope that it is preserved, because it’s a calm oasis in the middle of busy downtown Manhattan.  It also stands out among neighborhood green spaces because of all the statues that are dotted throughout.  At first the effect suggests a lack of restraint, but it very quickly feels charmingly quirky.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

The garden is obviously well loved and used.  There aren’t many chairs or benches, but people make do and have impromptu picnics during their lunch breaks. Some traffic noise intrudes, but it’s more than manageable as the garden runs between Elizabeth to Mott Streets, mid-block. Neither street is heavily trafficked, so there was no honking horns, sirens, or motorcycles during our visit.

Crowded yet calm, Elizabeth Street Garden is definitely worth a visit.

HOURS

10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. every day, weather permitting

LOCATION

Elizabeth Street (betw. Prince and Spring Streets), New York, NY 10012

WEBSITE

Elizabeth Street Garden

Louis Valentino, Jr. Park and Pier — 71.9 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Louis Valentino, Jr. Park and Pier is located in Red Hook, Brooklyn, just a few blocks away from the ferry station for the new South Brooklyn ferry route.  The park includes a fairly large expanse of grass at the water’s edge, perfect for a picnic (grab a small key lime pie at Steve’s Authentic Key Lime Pies next door), an afternoon nap, or to catch some sun.  Or you could you could enjoy some free kayaking courtesy of the Red Hook Boaters (it’s free, but they do ask that you help with a little beach clean up afterwards).

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

We won’t say that the park is totally quiet, because it isn’t–you’ll hear the occasional airplane flying overhead and ferries and other motorized boats pass by–but most of the sound you’ll hear is the wind and water lapping against the jetties coupled with occasional snippets of conversation from people nearby.  A space doesn’t need to be totally quiet to be serene.

Louis Valentino Jr. Park and Pier is lovely and comfortable place. No doubt the park is busier on weekends, and an increase in human activity will mean a concomitant increase in sound, but during the week the park is perfect. We recommend it.

HOURS

Dawn to dusk, everyday

LOCATION

(betw. Coffey and Van Dyke Streets), Brooklyn, NY 11231

WEBSITE

Louis Valentino, Jr. Park and Pier

Robert F. Wagner Jr. Park — 71.6 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Robert F. Wagner Jr. Park is located at the very southern tip of Manhattan.  Here you can enjoy absolutely beautiful, unobstructed views of the harbor and a nice side view of the Statue of Liberty.  It’s a fairly busy area as there are lots of people walking around.  Despite that, you won’t hear many voices, just the occasional walker chatting too loudly into his or her phone.

But there was a constant background noise during our visit that was too loud to be ignored.  We weren’t sure about its source, but it sounded like a helicopter or large boat engine.  We looked around to see if there was a helicopter hovering in the background, but we didn’t see one.  Whatever the source, the noise was present the entire time we were in the park, and it is the reason the park could not get our best rating.  Well, that and the traffic noise.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Even though the Robert F. Wagner Jr. Park wasn’t exactly peaceful, it is still worth visiting.  We tried to treat the mystery noise as white noise, focusing instead on the stunning views.   While not foolproof, it helped.  Come here to experience a very attractive, open public space in Manhattan and enjoy the water views.   Bring your lunch when the weather is nice.  Clean public bathrooms are located in the pavillion off of Battery Park City Esplanade, next to Gigino at Wagner Park.

Note: The Robert F. Wagner Jr. Park is a dog-free park.

HOURS

Open 6:00 a.m. to 1:00 a.m. daily

Public restrooms are open from 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. (May 1 – October 31) and 8:00 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. (November 1-April 30)

LOCATION

ace (next to the Museum of Jewish Heritage ), New York, NY 10280

WEBSITE

Wagner Park

Elizabeth Street Garden — 65.7 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Looking for a really peaceful enclave in Nolita?  Then run, don’t walk, to Elizabeth Street Garden.  The garden’s future is uncertain, so use its now and help those who are trying to preserve it.   The garden is the biggest green space in Nolita and, unsurprisingly, it is under threat of development.  Unlike other green spaces, Elizabeth Street Garden is not a city park though the land is city-owned.  We hope that it is preserved, because it’s a calm oasis in the middle of busy downtown Manhattan.  It also stands out among neighborhood green spaces because of all the statues that are dotted throughout.  At first the effect suggests a lack of restraint, but it very quickly feels charmingly quirky.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

The garden is obviously well loved and used.  There aren’t many chairs or benches, but people make do and have impromptu picnics during their lunch breaks. Some traffic noise intrudes, but it’s more than manageable as the garden runs between Elizabeth to Mott Streets, mid-block. Neither street is heavily trafficked, so there was no honking horns, sirens, or motorcycles during our visit.

Crowded yet calm, Elizabeth Street Garden is definitely worth a visit.

HOURS

10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. every day, weather permitting

LOCATION

Elizabeth Street (betw. Prince and Spring Streets), New York, NY 10012

WEBSITE

Elizabeth Street Garden

DeSalvio Playground — 69.9 decibels Under Renovation

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

DeSalvio Playground is not a pretty space, nor is it bucolic.  Street noise abounds, so the space is rarely calm, but there are four picnic tables and at least 15 benches available for the weary to rest or enjoy a nosh.  Street noise can’t be avoided at the playground as it’s on the corner of Spring and Mulberry Streets.  A quieter option is available nearby at the Elizabeth Street Garden, but that space has only one or two tables available should you wish to eat.

DeSalvio Playground

DeSalvio Playground

DeSalvio Playground would be a good stop if you have small children to entertain, as the playground has swings and other play equipment to keep them occupied, and spray showers are provided in the summer for the kids to cool off.   As a consequence, it may be crowded with screaming children, so proceed with caution.   If the space isn’t overwhelmed by children, bring your lunch, a coffee, and a book and chill.

HOURS

8:00 a.m. to dusk every day

LOCATION

Street (at the corner of Mulberry Street), New York, NY 10012

WEBSITE

DeSalvio Playground

 

Jefferson Market Garden — 74.1 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Jefferson Market Garden is similar to another of our favorite outdoor spaces, Jackson Square, in that it is an absolutely beautiful, well-tended, and well-loved park, but it suffers from its location.  Located on the site of a former women’s prison, the garden is bordered by 6th Avenue and Greenwich Avenue and is plagued with constant traffic, unrelenting horn honking, and never-ending construction noise of some sort or another.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Our visit was short.  It started off louder than it ended due to a utility truck that was idling very loudly nearby.  There’s a fire house about a block away, so loud sirens are common (one returning fire truck made its way back home during our visit), as are those purposefully loud motorcycles.  There wasn’t one silent moment, not a minute of calm during our visit.

That said, Jefferson Market Garden is still worth visiting.  The plantings are lovely, with bursts of color throughout, and fragrance has not been ignored.  We could smell the roses whenever a breeze swept through.   So come and enjoy the lush plantings and riot of color.  Just don’t expect a peaceful visit, because you won’t get it.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

The garden is open when a member is present, which generally is not a problem during the season (April through November).  Some bench seating is provided but is often occupied as the garden is very popular.

HOURS

Tuesday through Sunday: 10:00 a.m. to dusk (from April through October), weather permitting

Closed Mondays

LOCATION

70 A Greenwich Avenue (betw. 6th Avenue and W. 10th Street), New York, NY 10011

WEBSITE

Jefferson Market Garden

The Gardens at St. Luke in the Fields — 68.1 to 71.2 decibels

Photo credit: quietcitymap

Photo credit: quietcitymap

The gardens at St. Luke in the Fields are a beautiful and peaceful hideaway in the West Village.  Narrow walkways meander through the gardens, and there are plenty of benches to accommodate visitors.  The gardens are rarely empty, but they are quiet. Signs are posted throughout asking visitors to refrain from cell phone use and visitors actually exercise self-control.  The noisiest section of the gardens is on the Barrow Street (south) side which gets more street noise; it registered at 71.2 decibels.  The quietest section is in the back (west side) of the garden, which registered at a peaceful 68.1 decibels.

HOURS

Monday through Saturday: 8:00 a.m. to dusk

Sunday: 8:00 a.m. 5:00 p.m.

Close on holidays

LOCATION

487 Hudson Street (betw. Barrow and Christopher), New York, NY 10014

WEBSITE

The Gardens at St. Luke in the Fields

Jackson Square Park — 73.3 decibels

20160321_120717_resizedThis pretty little square is actually a triangle that bisects 13th Street and is bordered by 8th Avenue to the east, Greenwich Avenue to the west, and Horatio Street to the south.  It’s an adorable space that is sadly marred by street noise–loud idling trucks, honking taxis, and impatient drivers.  The trees and shrubs can only block so much noise, but it’s a losing battle as there is constant frenzied traffic around the square, at least during the week.

And so, in the end, Jackson Square Park is merely tolerable for a quick respite.  This is a damn shame, as it is clear that the park is well loved by area denizens who thoughtfully and tastefully decorate the park for holidays and otherwise keep it in tiptop shape.

Jackson Square

Jackson Square

That said, the reading was taken around noon on a busy Friday.  As we recall, the pace is a bit less frantic on the weekends–we will go back to take a reading on a future weekend to confirm.  For now, if the weather is nice,  traffic isn’t hellish, and you are looking for a place to rest your feet in the West Village, check out Jackson Square Park.  It really is a pretty green space.

HOURS

Dawn to 10:00 p.m. every day

LOCATION

At the conflux of 8th Avenue, Greenwich Avenue, and Horatio Street, New York, NY 10011

WEBSITE

Jackson Square Alliance

Winston Churchill Square — 73.5 decibels

Photo credit: quietcitymap

Photo credit: quietcitymap

Sir Winston Churchill Square is a little pocket of serenity in the sea of insanity that is the conflux of 6th Avenue and Carmine and Bleecker Streets.  The square is directly across from the much larger, and much louder, Father Demo Square, which is always crowded on mild days and overwhelmed by small children (and their minders) who flock to its fountain in the summer.  With the commotion going across the street, it is easy to miss Winston Churchill Square entirely, which explains why it is generally quiet(ish) and calm.

That said, our sound meter registered at 73.5 decibels during our visit to the square.  At first that seemed anomalous, because we have been to the square a number of times and it was always calmer.  But then we recalled that during the reading period a couple of purposely loud motorcycles passed by, increasing the overall reading by at least two or three points.  [Aside: Why do people like to make that much noise and why do cities tolerate them?]

In any event, the immediate space of the square is lovely but street noise does intrude.  If the city were to ban the toys of the desperately insecure (look at me!), the square would be almost perfect.  Almost perfect because outdoor spaces are always vulnerable to the sounds and smells of the city.  For example, on the August afternoon that we took our decibel reading there was the occasional whiff of eau d’New York City (stale urine).  It wasn’t overpowering or constant, just noticeable with the intermittent breeze.

Winston Churchill Square is heavily shaded by mature trees, which cools the space down by about ten degrees–a very good thing on hot and humid days.  But be sure to keep an eye out for the bench under the pigeons’ toilet (no worries, it’s easy to spot).

If you are in the West Village near Bleecker Street and 6th Avenue on a muggy summer afternoon, grab a treat from one of the nearby ice cream shops, walk past Father Demo Square, and head on over to Winston Churchill Square to enjoy the (relative) serenity.

HOURS

Dawn (generally 7:00-7:30 a.m.) to dusk

LOCATION

1 Downing Street (where Downing, Bleecker, and 6th Avenue meet), NY, NY 10014

WEBSITE

Winston Churchill Square