Scotty’s Diner — 74.8 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Our visit at Scotty’s Diner was more comfortable than the meter reading might suggest. Even though we had the worst seat in the place–opposite the area the wait staff called in orders to the cooks–we didn’t think it was that bad. Sure, there was unnecessary dance music played quietly in the background, but it wasn’t loud enough to offend and probably only added a decibel or two to the overall soundscape.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

We came for a mid-morning breakfast and found the place rather crowded. It was perfectly fine, even with an almost full house.  The drop ceiling may help with noise mitigation, but the quiet crowd didn’t hurt. The only obvious voices we heard were staff barking out orders to the cooks. Otherwise there were no obnoxious sounds, despite there being a semi-open kitchen.

Scotty’s offers standard diner fare–breakfasts, burgers, sandwiches, pasta, etc.–in a traditional old-school diner setting.  We recommend it.

HOURS

Open 24 hours (diner is closed from 1:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m. on Mondays)

LOCATION

Avenue (near the corner of 39th Street), New York, NY 10016

WEBSITE

Scotty’s Diner

Townhouse Diner — 69.2 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

There’s a reason we love to review diners on this site, and Townhouse Diner is a good example why–69.2 decibels. Ah. Townhouse Diner is a simple, straightforward, old-school diner that gets the job done. It’s located near the entrance of the midtown tunnel, but we couldn’t hear traffic noise. Duran Duran played in the background when we arrived.  It’s wasn’t too loud, but the music was trebly and absolutely unnecessary. It was an older crowd, with the exception of one new mother and infant. Trust us, no one was listening to the music or watching Fox News on the very large flat screen. Fortunately, Fox News only offended us visually–the volume was low and we couldn’t hear it.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

In the end, Townhouse Diner wasn’t perfect, but it was more than manageable. If they turned off the tv or the music (or, one hopes, both) the space would have been really comfortable.  As it was, the noise level was more than manageable.  We recommend it for a quick nosh.

HOURS

Sunday through Thursday: 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.

Friday and Saturday: 6:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

LOCATION

nue (betw. 37th and 38th Streets), New York, NY 10016

WEBSITE

Townhouse Diner

Scotty’s Diner — 74.8 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Our visit at Scotty’s Diner was more comfortable than the meter reading might suggest. Even though we had the worst seat in the place–opposite the area the wait staff called in orders to the cooks–we didn’t think it was that bad. Sure, there was unnecessary dance music played quietly in the background, but it wasn’t loud enough to offend and probably only added a decibel or two to the overall soundscape.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

We came for a mid-morning breakfast and found the place rather crowded. It was perfectly fine, even with an almost full house.  The drop ceiling may help with noise mitigation, but the quiet crowd didn’t hurt. The only obvious voices we heard were staff barking out orders to the cooks. Otherwise there were no obnoxious sounds, despite there being a semi-open kitchen.

Scotty’s offers standard diner fare–breakfasts, burgers, sandwiches, pasta, etc.–in a traditional old-school diner setting.  We recommend it.

HOURS

Open 24 hours (diner is closed from 1:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m. on Mondays)

LOCATION

Avenue (near the corner of 39th Street), New York, NY 10016

WEBSITE

Scotty’s Diner

Townhouse Diner — 69.2 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

There’s a reason we love to review diners on this site, and Townhouse Diner is a good example why–69.2 decibels. Ah. Townhouse Diner is a simple, straightforward, old-school diner that gets the job done. It’s located near the entrance of the midtown tunnel, but we couldn’t hear traffic noise. Duran Duran played in the background when we arrived.  It’s wasn’t too loud, but the music was trebly and absolutely unnecessary. It was an older crowd, with the exception of one new mother and infant. Trust us, no one was listening to the music or watching Fox News on the very large flat screen. Fortunately, Fox News only offended us visually–the volume was low and we couldn’t hear it.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

In the end, Townhouse Diner wasn’t perfect, but it was more than manageable. If they turned off the tv or the music (or, one hopes, both) the space would have been really comfortable.  As it was, the noise level was more than manageable.  We recommend it for a quick nosh.

HOURS

Sunday through Thursday: 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.

Friday and Saturday: 6:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

LOCATION

nue (betw. 37th and 38th Streets), New York, NY 10016

WEBSITE

Townhouse Diner

Deux Amis — 73.3 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

We found ourselves around 60th and 1st Avenue one Saturday afternoon, when we started to feel a bit peckish.  It’s not a neighborhood we normally frequent, so we pulled out a phone and searched for someplace walkable for brunch.  Deux Amis was just under ten blocks away and we were leaning towards a French bistro, so  we trekked over.

The space at Deux Amis is fine.  It looked like a bigger space from the street, but the space inside is pretty compact.  There are some outdoor tables that were unoccupied during our visit, a bar and  four tables for two or three as you entered, and a small back dining space.  We sat at one of the tables near the bar.

While the physical space was comfortable, the background music was too loud.  It wasn’t soul-crushingly loud, just one or two notches higher than it should have been, but in between songs the sound level was so tantalizingly right.   We saw that the speakers were in the very front of the place, facing the dining area.  We assume that the noise level in the small back dining space was probably was a bit better simply because there was more distance between the speaker and the tables.  Our suspicion was confirmed by the relative calm in the back dining space despite being fairly full.  Most seats were taken there, but we didn’t hear customers talking over one another.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Our meal was fine, we were just a little disappointed because Deux Amis could have been very comfortable if they just lowered the volume of the background music.   The neighborhood isn’t exactly brimming with good alternatives,  so we wouldn’t write Deux Amis off but it’s not on the top of our recommend list either.

HOURS

Monday through Thursday: 5:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.

Friday: 5:00 p.m. to 12:00 a.m.

Saturday: 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. to 12:00 a.m.

Sunday: 12:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.

LOCATION

Street (betw. 1st and 2nd Avenues, closer to 1st), New York, NY 10022

WEBSITE

Deux Amis

 

The Press Box — 69.9 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

We sat at the bar for a mid-afternoon coffee and beer.  A couple of flat screen tvs were on and music was playing softly in the background,  but the space was fairly calm and it was easy to have a conversation–no screaming or straining.  That said, our experience is probably not a good measure as The Press Room wasn’t very crowded during our visit.  But we feel confident that week days at lunch time should be fine, and you could take advantage of The Press Room’s $12 lunch special.

As with most places, we would advise that you avoid happy hour and dinner later in the week.  Our waitress confirmed our suspicions, confiding that happy hour usually isn’t too crowded but it can get loud Thursday through Saturday.  She added that dinner should be played by ear, but said that brunch is almost always low key unless there is a football game on.

HOURS

Open daily 11:30 a.m. to 2:00 a.m.

LOCATION

nue (betw. 49th and 50th Streets), New York, NY 10022

WEBSITE

The Press Box

 

120 Park Avenue — 69.2 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

This is the first time that we recommend avoiding a space that registered under 70 decibels.  Why?  120 Park Avenue’s privately owned public space (POPS) is a covered,  climate controlled indoor space that is stark, cold, and uncomfortable.  The space is so live that every cough, cell phone conversation, or unexpected sound is amplified, bouncing sharply off of all the hard surfaces and rebounding around the room.   Usually indoor POPS are nicer because the space is meant to be enjoyed by building tenants, but not this one.

The tables and chairs provided for the public looked a bit old, but they exist.  There also is plenty of stone bench seating.  Some people were eating during our visit, but there were a number of cell phone users.  And every time someone dragged a chair across the floor, the reading jumped–the sound was so jarring and loud that its effect was not unlike the sound of fingernails on a chalkboard.  Apparently no one knows how to pick up a chair to move it to the preferred spot, because it happen a number of times during our short visit.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

It was clear that the reason for the low reading was that the space has very high ceilings.  Other than that, there were no other elements that mitigated or softened the noise.

If there are public bathrooms available, we couldn’t find them.

This is a space that people use but do not enjoy.  Many appeared to use the space to make phone calls as they wandered through.  We found the 120 Park Avenue POPS to be absolutely uncomfortable and our least favorite POPS to date.

HOURS

Monday through Saturday: 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.

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

LOCATION

120 Park Avenue (at the corner of 41st Street), New York, NY 10017

WEBSITE

NYC overview of the 120 Park Avenue POPS

Sons of Thunder — 75.1 to 76.3 decibels

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

With a name like Sons of Thunder one wouldn’t expect to find a pocket of quiet, and one would be right.  Sons of Thunder is located in that unnamed stretch of the city by the Queens Midtown Tunnel exits, bordered by Murray Hill to the west and Turtle Bay to the north.  We found the  noise level to be tolerable–barely–but think it’s worth a visit for their take on poke, a Hawaiian raw fish salad that they serve over steamed rice or tortilla chips.  We really enjoyed the poke over steamed rice–it was fresh, delicious, and a fairly healthy meal.   They also offer chili and hotdogs, french fries, and shakes.  It’s an odd menu, but the crowds prove that it works.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

The noise level of the space varied depending on where you were at any given time.   There was  loud music blaring in the  back dining room, thanks to a large speaker mounted by the entrance to the space.  Most of surfaces in the dining space were hard, except for some  fabric covered panels mounted on the back wall.  The panels must have absorbed some sound, because despite all the hard surfaces, the blaring music, and a nearby table of six chatty and loud co-workers seated near us, we were able to tolerate the noise level.

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

Photo credit: Quiet City Maps

We followed our first review with a very short second visit a week later.  That visit clocked in at 75.1 decibels.  This time we focused on the hot dog options, which did not disappoint.  What was disappointing was the unnecessarily loud music in the dining area.   Despite the lower decibel reading during this visit, we believe the music was louder during this second visit than the first but there were fewer fellow patrons as we visited shortly after Sons of Thunder opened and before the crowds descended.  Because the space has a lot of unforgiving hard surfaces, it will never be pleasant.  But if the music volume was reduced just a few notches, the space would have been fine.  As it was, it was merely tolerable.

Sons of Thunder is not a place for lingering.  To be frank, if it didn’t serve really good food in a in a park of the city not known for its food scene, we wouldn’t have bothered reviewing it.  To be safe, aim for off-peak hours.  Avoid if crowded.

HOURS

Monday through Saturday: 11:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Closed Sunday

LOCATION

Street (betw. 37th and 38th Streets), New York, NY 10016

WEBSITE

Sons of Thunder

Ford Foundation Building — 60.6 decibels

Photo credit: quietcitymap

Photo credit: quietcitymap

The public lobby of the Ford Foundation is not to be missed.  Unlike other public lobbies, there are no public toilets, food stands, tables, or chairs.  Rather, there is an absolutely spectacular indoor garden in a soaring atrium, a fountain in the middle of the space, and a low brick bench on the east wall.  What bliss!  When the decibel meter started it read only 57 decibels.  To date, this was the quietest public spot that we found in Manhattan.  What the Ford Foundation lobby lacks in amenities it makes up for in quiet.

No food and drinks are allowed, so come here if you want to chill with a book or meditate for a little while.   There are plenty of restaurants and coffee shops within a few blocks, so there’s somewhere to go if you feel peckish or thirsty or need to use a restroom.

Caution: The building will undergo an extensive renovation beginning October 2016; it is anticipated that the renovation will be completed in the summer of 2018.   The garden will be renovated as well–it will not be removed–but it won’t be open to the public until the renovation is completed.  Go and visit the space while you can.

HOURS

Monday through Friday: 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. (no holidays)

LOCATION

WEBSITE

Ford Foundation building renovation information