Where Are The Noisy Neighborhoods In NYC?

NYC 311 complaints is probably one of the most accessible open data on the city governemnt's website. Early this week, I downloaded a list of complaints filed in NYC from November 2014 to November 2015, and looked into the details of those complaints. Below is the visualized result of noise level in each neighborbood of the city. The map is colored coded by the numbers of noise-related complaints per 10,000 people. You can hover over the map to see names of neighborhoods and how many noise complaints were filed during the past year.

In order to count the numbers of complaints by each neighborhood, I converted the points (complaints) data into polygons (neighborhoods) in QGIS, and since there were over a million complaints in the data set, it took the computer about 48 hours to convert all the data. While waiting for the machine, I found the Census data of population for each neighborhood in NYC, and combined it with my 311 data in QGIS. Once it is done, I calculated the complaints per 10,000 people in each area and color coded the map with names of the areas on it:

Here is a closer look at Midtown/Lower Manhattan and East Blookyn areas:

As we can see from the maps, the noisiest neighborhood in NYC is Midtown Manhattan, the area includes Columbus Circle, Korean Town and the Penn Station, most of where are travelers' destinations: shopping malls, stores, hotels, restaurants, etc. Besides, large number of people work in midtown, and the heavy traffic there would also be a major noise source. Other than Midtown, there are several other dark color areas in Lower Manhattan and East Blookyn. However, since the colors of those areas are not very different from each other, it is hard to tell which neighborhood has more noise-related complaints than the others. So I went back to the 311 data set, and plotted the top ten noisiet neighborhoods with bar charts:

Other noisy neighborhoods in NYC include Williamsburg, Soho/Tribeca, Central Harlem, Washington Height and East Village. Most of these areas combine residential, commercial, industrial and other buildings. They are more uniformly residential than Midtown Manhattan, and are usually popular among young professionals and artists.

Another way to analyze the 311 data is to look at the type of the complaints. Below is a summary of the top 10 complaint types and their counts:

It is clear that loud msic/party is the most common reason for people to file noise complaints. It prompt more than 50,000 and one third of all calls. The second-most common type is the construction noise before/after work hours. As a resident who lives between West End and 96th, I constantly heard construction noise on the street outside of my apartment during the day and sometimes in the early morning! Other than the construction noise, people seem to hate loud talkers on streets or in buildings, which ranks as the third most common complaint type and counts almost 19,000 or 14% of the total calls.

Since the loud music/party is the most common noise in the city, I looked into the data and plotted a graph that shows the time of a day when the noise complaints were filed:

And here is a similar graph that shows when those complaints were filed based on the days a week:

From the charts above we can find that most noise complaints were filed during the weekend nights, usuall between 9pm to 1am. It makes sense as that is when most people go to bed and sleep. Unfortunately, that's also when most parties and night events are happened, and living in a metro city like NYC, one might have to sacrify his or her quiet bedtime...

But! That is not true of all the residents in the city, there are still some quiet areas in the city where you may enjoy a book and a glass of wine at night without worry too much about the noise in buildings or on streets, including Co-op City and Parkchester in Bronx, Starrett City in Brooklyn and Arden Heights in Staten Island.