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

 

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

575 Fifth Avenue (L’Oreal Building) — 70.7 decibels

575 5th Avenue (L’Oreal Building) is a privately owned private space (POPS).  The lobby is a covered and climate controlled public space with plenty of tables, chairs, and benches for sitting and eating.  Some POPS are obvious afterthoughts, with little effort to make them useful or comfortable, but not this one.  One sure sign that a POPS is considerate and well thought out is whether it actually is used.  By that measure, the POPS at 575 5th Avenue is a success–it was packed when we visited.

Despite the crowds–every table taken and very little seating was available–and even though the lobby was clad in stone with metal and glass accents, the space registered a very reasonable 70.7 decibels.  It’s clear that the high atrium must wick the noise away, because the space was fairly comfortable.

The POPS has a newstand and Starbucks, but you don’t have to purchase anything to use the space.  In fact, many of the people eating at the tables came in with food they had obviously purchased elsewhere.  The lobby also has public bathrooms and they are clean!  And no hand dryers, just paper towels!  This is our favorite indoor POPS.

HOURS

7:00 a.m. to midnight every day

LOCATION

575 5th Avenue (at the corner of 47th Street), NY, NY 10018

WEBSITE

apops/MAS review of 575 5th Avenue