May 6, 2020

The New York Public Library brings the sounds of the city to your home


Image from NYPL

If you’re living in New York City, you know that it’s quiet. Uncomfortably quiet. Not quite horror movie quiet, but basically birds, delivery trucks, and ambulances make up the majority of the city soundscape right now. With New York, and some parts of the country, sheltering in place for almost two months now, I’m personally starving for any sounds that aren’t my cat.

The good news is that the New York Public Library has your back. Their album Missing Sounds of New York was released last Friday and is described as:

A new immersive experience, the album is a collection of audio landscapes that evoke some of the sounds of New York City. Missing Sounds of New York, a partnership with creative agency Mother New York, is a love letter to NYC, connecting New Yorkers around the familiar sounds of urban life that they love and miss during this unprecedented time of social separation.

Tracks include “To See an Underground Show,” “Never Call It a Night Again,” and perhaps most appealingly “Not-Quite-Quiet Library.” Each soundscape is not just white noise, but a mini story. The “Not-Quiet-Quiet Library” follows a reader into the Stephen A. Schwarzman Library, past a tour group and a helpful librarian before finding a quiet-ish place to work. If you’re like me, and find most places in NYC appropriate reading spots, you can just throw the album on shuffle and imagine that you are reading on the subway, at baseball games, and in bars.

You can find the album on SoundCloud or Spotify, and please, if you can, listen at home so that we can all read in public again soon.



Alyea Canada is an editor at Melville House.