Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Quiet of the City

The myth of the city, especially a bustling one like New York, is its incessant noisiness. The myth says that no matter where you go you cannot get away from the cacophony of the city. Whether you are walking on the street, traveling through the subway, eating at a corner diner, or just sitting in your apartment, there is no let up in that noise. As with most myths, there is more than a little truth to this. And sometimes when the construction site right outside your window always seems to be working overtime, you realize that part of how you experience the city connects to timing and luck.

To be honest, though, what made me think of all this is how quiet, particularly at night, our little studio apartment remains. Now, admittedly it does sit in a kind of residential park that is set back from Amsterdam Avenue. In fact, this is one of the reasons we chose it. But it does pleasantly surprise me nevertheless how protected from excessive noise that location has turned out to be.

This experience with our apartment prompted me to start thinking about zones of peace in Manhattan, places where those searching for quiet and even tranquility can be restored and regain some of the energy needed to face the city's very real and very constant racket, such as: automobile horns, large gear shifting trucks, anything with a jackhammer, building construction, the subway.

My favorite places for finding peace and quiet in the city are:

1. Central Park
2. The Main Public Library
3. Most Art Museums, but especially on weekdays when they first open
4. Almost any movie theater
5. The Staten Island Ferry toward Staten Island in the Morning
6. The contours of my own mind when I am deeply and happily immersed in a good book or an interesting piece of writing

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