Ever wondered what New York life was like in the earlier part of the 20th Century? The Roaring Twenties, a new collaboration between historian/author/Princeton professor Emily Thompson and designer/USC program creative director Scott Mahoy, can at least give you a better idea of how it sounded.
Thompson and Mahoy plotted NYC noise complaints from the 1920s until 1933 on an interactive map, complete with hand-written documents and news reels when available. Sadly, there are no reels in our area — but there are a few remaining complaints and even documents from 1926-1931.
• On July 12, 1926, Edward J. Taubner complained about noisy Borden milk trucks operating “all hours of the day and night.” He and his neighbors put together a petition that was sent to the Commissioner of Health.
• On March 13, 1928, Thomas F. Dugan complained about the continual playing of an organ at the Carlton Theatre, which once stood at 292 Flatbush Avenue.
• On October 30, 1930, Mr. H.W. Mahan complained about a noisy restaurant at 311 Flatbush Ave. At the time, “complaints about restaurant noise were typically forwarded to the Bureau of Food and Drugs.” Mr. Mahan apparently didn’t receive the answer he hoped for, because he complained again about the same place on June 26, 1931.
• On March 10, 1931, Anna Snayze complained about her neighbors making early-morning noises and giving voice lessons in her 8th Avenue apartment building. In her letter, she notes that 3:25am doesn’t seem like an appropriate time to wake up.
And you thought it was loud now! If you’ve got some time to explore the map, see what other noise complaints were filed in our borough at the time, and check out news footage from Manhattan.
Photo via Brooklyn Visual Heritage