60 Wall Street (Deutsche Bank Building) — 66.9 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

The lobby of 60 Wall Street, the American headquarters of Deutsche Bank, is a privately owned public space (POPS).  A POPS is an “amenity provided and maintained by a developer for public use, in exchange for additional floor area.”  Amenities typically are outdoor plazas or seating areas that may be used by the general public without charge, but occasionally, as here, the space is indoors and climate controlled.

During an early afternoon visit, the lobby of 60 Wall Street registered a positively peaceful 66.9 decibels.  Even though every inch of the lobby is clad in stone, glass, or some other hard surface, peace is maintained due to the high vaulted atrium.  The lobby is much louder during the morning and evening rush as employees stream into the space and head to the elevators, but the space was not empty during our visit.  In fact, three separate tour groups were assembling in the lobby, and many of the tables and chairs were occupied.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

The lobby has a Starbucks, newsstand, and a deli/cafe available for food and drinks, but you are not required to purchase from them to sit at the tables.  One public toilet is also provided, but use it only if absolutely necessary as it can best be described as challenging.  The rest of the space is very well maintained.

HOURS

Covered pedestrian space open 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. | Arcade open 24 hours

LOCATION

60 Wall Street (betw. William and Pearl), NY, NY 10005

WEBSITE

60 Wall Street

Gotham West Market — 76.4 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

We visited Gotham West, the “first-of-its-kind day & night market dining destination in Hell’s Kitchen,” on a not very busy Monday afternoon for a late lunch.  The space is an open floor plan with mostly shared seating that houses ten vendors selling better than average takeaway fare.  Gotham West Market essentially is a high-end food court.

We enjoyed our meal at The Cannibal.  While we were sitting at The Cannibal’s lunch counter and not the shared seating area, the reading should fairly represent the entire space as there were no walls or other barriers separating the various vendor spaces.  We were a bit surprised with the 76.4 decibel reading, as the sound level did not feel as loud as the reading might suggest.  We suspect the reason for the higher than expected reading was that every surface in the space is hard: glass, cement, metal, and tile.  Not a textile was to be found except for our napkins.  That said, the background music throughout the space was actually in the background, which certainly helps, as do the high ceilings.

While the noise level was acceptable during our visit, we suspect that on a very busy day the place could be excruciatingly loud.   When we chatted up a one of the workers, we were told that lunch hours later in the week and weekends, particularly around brunch, can be very crowded and very loud.  So aim for a visit earlier in the week or off hours.

HOURS

Hours vary according to the vendor, but one or more vendors should be available from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 a.m.

LOCATION

600 11th Avenue (betw. 44th and 45th Streets), New York, NY 10036

WEBSITE

Gotham West Market

The Penrose — 70.1 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

We had a lovely lunch time visit at The Penrose.  The space was reasonably quiet, although the background music was a hair louder than it needed to be.  We have no doubt that our surroundings were comfortable because there were very few customers seated near us, and it  certainly didn’t hurt that our meals were very nice and our waitress was attentive. That said, there are signs that suggest that the space will be much louder at brunch and in the evenings.  Namely, The Penrose has two bars, each of which is surrounded with plenty of stools, and in the front bar space we counted eight wall-mounted speakers.  The ceiling is lined with wood, which may help absorb some noise, but if the music volume is raised to fill a crowded space, it will be loud.

Yes, those are wall mounted speakers.

Yes, those are wall mounted speakers.

A staff member confirmed that the place is very busy at brunch and also during happy hour and dinner service from Wednesday through Saturday.   We suspect that during the busier times it would be impossible to have an intimate conversation, but lunches and dinner on slower nights should be fine.  In fact, our waitress confided that Monday evenings, in particular, are wonderfully relaxed and customers are apt to linger in the welcoming space.

HOURS

Monday through Friday: 11:45 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. | 3:00 p.m. to  1:00 a.m.

Saturday and Sunday: 10:00 a.m. to  4:00  p.m. | 5:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m.

LOCATION

(betw. 82nd and 83rd Streets), New York, NY 10028

WEBSITE

The Penrose

Trump Tower — 74.9 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

The Trump Tower’s privately owned public space (POPS) is not a comfortable place.  A POPS is an “amenity provided and maintained by a developer for public use, in exchange for additional floor area.”  Amenities typically are outdoor plazas or seating areas that may be used by the general public without charge, but occasionally, as here, the space is indoors and climate controlled.  The Trump Tower POPS space is located on the same lower floor as various Trump-designated food options: Trump Cafe, Trump Grill, Trump Bar, and Trump Ice Cream (surprisingly, the public bathrooms were not identified as Trump Toilets).   In any event, it’s a little difficult to see where the space for the various eating options begins and the POPS space ends, but the tables in the open area near the escalators are definitely available to the public.

Our reading was taken on a not very busy Sunday afternoon, and even in a relatively empty space the meter clocked in at almost 75 decibels.  We weren’t surprised, as the design insures a noisy space.  A loud water feature takes up one wall, and background music (not too loud, but unnecessary) and general chatter bounce off of every hard surface.  And almost every surface in this POPS is a hard surface.  The only soft elements available to absorb or deflect sound were a few floppy plants and some cushions on the chairs in the public space.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

But no matter how loud the space is it will not approach the loudness of the decor.  It’s exactly what you would expect in a Trump building: heavily veined stone, mirrored glass, and lots of brass.  The excessive use of mirrors was disorienting, especially coupled with the lights bouncing off of every brassy surface.

It’s clear that the space is meant to impress, and it did–we were impressed with how uncomfortable it was.  There is little that can be done to make the space truly comfortable save a gut renovation.   In short, the Trump Tower POPS should not be your first (or last) choice for a quiet respite.  That said, it’s a veritable tourist spot–tourists seemed to make up a large percentage of the visitors–and given Donald Trump’s current political run, a visit to the Trump Tower POPS could be instructive.  We think you will leave with a fuller understanding of Trump the man, the candidate, and the brand.

The public restrooms are clean.  There’s that.

HOURS

8:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. every day

LOCATION

725 Fifth Avenue (betw. 56th and 57th Streets), New York, NY 10022

WEBSITE

APOPS review of Trump Tower POPS

Johny’s Luncheonette –73 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Johny’s Luncheonette is an authentic old-school luncheonette.   The narrow space has a long lunch counter lined with stools, two small tables in the back, and a wall mounted tv tuned to CNN (on very low volume, mercifully) hovering over a refrigerator holding cold drinks.  The prep space and grill is in full view, so you can watch your meal being made as you join the regulars at the counter and enjoy the very friendly vibe.

Almost every seat was taken during our visit, yet the place was comfortable.  The amiable owner (Johny, of course) chatted with chummy regulars as he prepared the orders, but it wasn’t too loud even with CNN playing in the background.  And this highlights an important point about restaurant comfortability in general: music or tv can play in the background in a smaller place without making the space uncomfortable as long as some restraint is shown with the volume.  At Johny’s, the tv was loud enough for someone to hear what was being reported, but not so loud that one could not read or have a conversation or just relax as they ate.

Johny’s offers breakfast and lunch all day long.  We loved the burgers, but questioned our choice when we saw the plate of perfect pancakes that were delivered to a customer near us.  The food is straightforward, simple diner fare done right.  And as an added bonus, a taste of old New York:  To access the bathroom, you have to walk through the small kitchen/dish washing space in the back, open a door into the hallway of the building’s residential space, and look for the tiny bathroom on the right.  It was a little more aromatic than we would like, but serviceable.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Located in the unnamed sliver that is squeezed between Chelsea and the Flat Iron District, Johny’s Luncheonette delivers good, basic, American diner classics.  It is definitely worth a visit.

HOURS

Monday through Friday: 7:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Saturday and Sunday: 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

LOCATION

Street (betw. 6th and 7th), New York, NY 10001

WEBSITE

Johny’s Luncheonette

Three Lives & Company — 61.9 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Simply the best bookstore in New York City.  It’s smaller than most, so it doesn’t have the same selection as a megastore, thank goodness.  None of the tat, just a great selection of fiction and nonfiction classics and newly published books.  There is a small but excellent collection of cookbooks, and a wonderfully curated selection of books about New York City.  Most importantly, Three Lives looks and sounds like a bookstore should: quietly creaky wooden floors, very low and appropriate background music, small niches where you can sit and preview your potential purchase, and staff and customers (usually) talking at a whisper.  No surprise that it registered at a calming 61.9 decibels.   A must visit for the book lover.

HOURS

Sunday: 12:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.

Monday and Tuesday: 12:00 p.m. to 8:00

Wednesday through Saturday: 11:00 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.

LOCATION

154 W. 10th Street (at the corner of Waverly Place), New York, NY 10014

WEBSITE

Three Lives & Company

O’Hara’s Restaurant and Pub — 78.6 decibels

Can you see all the flat screen tvs?

Can you see all the flat screen tvs?

A reading of 78.6 decibels insured a harried lunch.  While the waitstaff were friendly and efficient, there is no compelling reason to eat here.  The space is designed for noise: mounted televisions set to CNBC, loud patrons, and absolutely unnecessary background music that featured lesser-known numbers by one-hit wonder 80’s bands.  Why?

If you are visiting the 9/11 memorial, or just dropped some dough at Century 21, suddenly find yourself ravenously hungry, and are a huge Survivor fan, this is your place.   For everyone else, avoid.  Food is barely adequate American bar fare (fried appetizers, burgers, wraps, etc.).

HOURS

Tuesday through Thursday: 11:00 am to 12:00 a.m.

Friday through Monday: 11:00 am to 2:00 a.m.

LOCATION

120 Cedar Street (betw. Greenwich Street and Trinity Place), NY, NY 10006

WEBSITE 

O’Hara’s Restaurant and Pub

Irving Farm Coffee Roasters — 77.6 decibels

Photo credit: quietcitymap

Photo credit: quietcitymap

The decibel meter clocked in at 77.6 decibels, but we are not sure why.  While the space could have been quieter, the noise level didn’t seem quite that high.  As usual, the background music was louder than necessary, but the high ceilings must have made up for that.  There also is an almost hidden seating area in the basement that was serene.

A menu featuring breakfast options, sandwiches, and salads is offered through out the day.  If you are wandering around the Lower East Side and looking for a coffee or a nosh, Irving Farm is worth checking out.   If the first floor is too crowded or loud, head downstairs and enjoy the quiet.

HOURS

Monday through Thursday: 7:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Friday: 7:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.

Saturday: 8:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.

Sunday: 8:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.

LOCATION

88 Orchard Street (at the corner of Broome), NY, NY 10002

WEBSITE

Irving Farm Coffee Roasters

Kinokuniya New York — 61 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Bliss.  Kinokuniya is a Japanese-based retailer selling books, magazines, and Japanese pens and stationery.  Those of you who love to try out new pens and pencils already know that Japanese stationery products are compelling, and Kinokuniya has an excellent selection that is unmatched in the city.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

That said, what makes the store so delightful is seeing the interesting array of products displayed in such a peaceful space.  Books and magazines are on the ground floor, stationery and novelties are in the basement. Give yourself some time to look around, because there is a lot more on display than you may first appreciate.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

This delightful store is located directly across from hectic Bryant park, a beautiful park marred by constant, jarring street noise.  Check out the park and then escape to Kinokuniya for some peace.

HOURS

Monday through Saturday: 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Sunday: 11:00 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.

LOCATION

(betw. 40th and 41st Streets), New York, NY 10018

WEBSITE

Kinokuniya US

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