5 Noise-free Oases to live in NYC

If you are looking for the quietest neighborhoods in New York City, like I’ve been ever since I first moved to this city, you might find this article interesting.

I’m going to say it right away. I think looking at this issue from a neighborhood point of view is not ideal. Sure, midtown might be noisier on average than the village, but there are some parts of the village that can be quite noisy, and vice-versa.

Instead, today I would like to introduce you to 5 noise-free oases in Manhattan. These oases are spread throughout Manhattan, and are not quieter because of the neighborhood they are in but because of the scale of the project and their urbanistic characteristics.

I stumbled upon these noise-free oases while studying the soundscape of Manhattan. Once I found the first one everything I learned about idealistic urbanism at school came back to mind and made perfect sense. From there I just kept browsing the map finding more and more of these unique spots.

The anatomy of a noise-free oasis in NYC

Architects and urbanists have always been looking for ways to make cities more livable, and healthier. Especially during the early 20th century, many agreed that this was a problem of separating layers that didn’t belong together, like car traffic, pedestrian traffic, and nature.

Many visionary architects and urbanists argued that the solution was to create separate these as much as possible. The idea was to create way larger city blocks than the ones we have today, make them as green as possible, and then build inside those “parks”. Cars would only be able to reach the borders of these mega-blocks, therefore only disturbing the border of the block, and always keeping a safe distance from the inner parts, which were only reachable by foot.

The goal, to some extent, was for everyone to be able to live in a park inside the city.

This vision obviously didn’t become the norm, definitely not in NYC, but there were some developers who shared this vision and decided to bet on it, leaving behind these oases that we will now dive into, in the middle of the city!

Noise-free oases in Manhattan

Penn South

Penn South is one of the first large-scale residential cooperative housing complexes in the United States. Located between Eighth and Tenth Avenue, and between 23rd and 29th Streets in Manhattan, New York City, it was built between 1962 and 1964 by the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union (ILGWU).

Penn South contains 2,820 apartments in twenty-eight, eight-story buildings on a superblock covering two full city blocks. The complex offers its residents an abundance of amenities and services including 24-hour security, laundry facilities, a community center with a health club and pool, as well as many programs for children and seniors.

Penn South is located near many of New York City’s popular attractions and transportation hubs, making it an ideal place to live. The complex is within walking distance of the High Line, Chelsea Market, Madison Square Park, Flatiron District, Union Square, and Penn Station. Penn South also has great public transit access with multiple bus routes and easy access to the 1, 2, 3, A, C, and E subway lines.

Stuy Town

Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village, collectively referred to as Stuy Town, is a residential complex on the East Side of Manhattan in New York City. It contains more than 11,000 apartments covering an area from 14th Street to 23rd Street, between First Avenue and Avenue C.

Stuy Town is located near many places of interest and attractions including the East River Promenade, Union Square Park, and Tompkins Square Park. The complex is also close to various transportation hubs giving residents easy access to the rest of the city. It is conveniently located near subway stations on the 4, 5, 6, L, N, and Q lines. In addition, there are multiple bus routes that pass through the area.

Stuy Town offers residents a wide array of amenities including bike storage, private gardens and courtyards, a fitness center and swimming pool, laundry facilities, community events, and activities for all ages. With its convenient location near attractions, entertainment venues, and transportation hubs, Stuy Town is an ideal place to live.

Cooperative Village

Cooperative Village is a residential complex located in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, New York City. The complex contains 8 buildings with over 2,780 apartments ranging from studios to three bedrooms. It was built between 1948 and 1952 by the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America (ACWA).

Cooperative Village offers its residents a variety of amenities and services including laundry facilities, manicured gardens, playgrounds, and a community center. The complex is located near many attractions and places of interest such as the Lower East Side Tenement Museum, Orchard Street Shopping District, and Tompkins Square Park. It also has great public transportation access with multiple bus routes and easy access to the F, J, M, and Z subway lines.

Cooperative Village provides its residents with a unique living experience in the heart of Manhattan. With its convenient location, abundant amenities, and ideal transportation options, Cooperative Village is an attractive option for those looking for a place to call home.

Knickerbocker Village and Alfred E. Smith Houses

Knickerbocker Village and Alfred E. Smith Houses, collectively known as Knickerbocker or the Smith Houses, are two large public housing developments located in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, New York City. The complex consists of seventeen buildings with over 3,100 apartments ranging from studios to four bedrooms.

Located in close proximity to the East River, Knickerbocker and Smith Houses are near many popular attractions including Chinatown, Little Italy, the South Street Seaport, and the Brooklyn Bridge. The complex is easily accessible with multiple bus routes in the area and easy access to the F and J subway lines.

Knickerbocker Village offers residents a variety of amenities and services including an on-site clinic, playgrounds, a community center, and laundry facilities. The complex is also home to the Little Flower Playground which has been renovated with new play equipment and landscaped gardens. With their convenient location, abundant amenities, and easy transportation access, Knickerbocker Village and Alfred E. Smith Houses are two great places to consider moving to.

Amsterdam Addition

The Amsterdam Addition development in Manhattan is located on the Upper West Side and is comprised of four residential buildings with 1,500 apartment units. These recently updated and modern residences offer a variety of amenities to their tenants such as 24-hour security, onsite parking, a fitness center, and laundry facilities.

Amsterdam Addition is also conveniently located near various attractions including Central Park, Lincoln Center for Performing Arts, and the American Museum of Natural History.

The Amsterdam Addition provides easy access to public transportation with multiple bus routes and easy access to the 1, 2, and 3 subway lines. With its convenient location near attractions, entertainment venues, and transportation hubs, Amsterdam Addition is an ideal place to live in Manhattan.

Why don’t we have more oases like these ones?

There are a bunch of reasons why this type of development didn’t gain in popularity during the mid-20th century when they were built.

The first one is probably the large investment that developers had to make in order to carry out these types of projects. You know how popular wisdom tells us not to put all our eggs in the same basket, right? Well, many developers preferred to diversify their investments, and therefore their risk, into smaller developments that would not hit them so hard if they failed, and were also easier to manage.

This is probably the cause of the second reason why these mega-projects didn’t take off. In many cases, only the public sector was willing to assume the cost of such a project, but the public sector isn’t in the business of making luxury condos, they are in the business of creating affordable housing, and so some projects like this were made with cheap materials and basic finished. These units were also then offered to families with lower incomes, turning many of these developments into ghettos. This is why in American English slang, government-owned housing for low-income residents is often referred to as “the projects”.


Even though many of these projects didn’t rise to their full potential in their early days, the truth is there isn’t a cheap place to live in NYC. There aren’t really any Ghettos in Manhattan anymore, and most of what people consider low-income in Manhattan is only low-income when compared to the top 1%, so not low at all.

In this new context, these mega developments have reinvented themselves and are now closer to the vision that the architects and urbanists who imagined them had than they’ve ever been before.

This might just be the perfect time to consider moving to a noise-free oasis in New York City and enjoy all the energy and adrenaline of the city without having to suffer the negative effects of its ridiculous levels of noise pollution once you get home.

Guillermo Carone. Author at Fight for Silence
Hi there! My name is Guillermo Carone, I’m an architect and urbanist by training, and I’ve been on a quest against noise since 2010, when I moved from the calm and quiet Barcelona, to the vibrant and noisy New York City. I have a special interest in how cities evolve and how to keep them a place for society to thrive.

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