Skip to main content

Spotify playlist offers the familiar sounds of pre-pandemic New York

New York City is still in lockdown as it continues to grapple with the appalling effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

With most businesses in the usually bustling city ordered to close in mid-March in a bid to slow the spread of the virus, the unique sounds of the Big Apple have slipped away, leaving its inhabitants wondering how long it’ll be before life returns to normal.

As a stopgap measure to help locals cope with the unsettling sound of silence, the New York Public Library knocked together a playlist of familiar audio landscapes recorded in the city before the virus caused changed everything.

“The New York we know and love is one click away: Cabs honking, pigeons cooing, bike messengers whizzing by, strangers gossiping, the hum of a local library,” it wrote in a message  announcing the playlist, adding, “Anywhere you are can now become the city — all you need is Missing Sounds of New York, the New York Public Library’s new album.”

Comprising eight tracks running a total of 16 minutes, you can immerse yourself in the familiar soundscapes of a bustling city park, a lively neighborhood restaurant, and that (not so quiet) library, among other places. You’ll even find a recording of a New York City rush hour, if you can stand to remind yourself of the hectic journey.

The New York Public Library said it used a combination of sounds to create each track so that it could include short “mini-stories” inside each one where the audio picks out particular people or happenings.

Created in partnership with creative agency Mother New York, the library describes the collection as “a love letter to New York City, connecting New Yorkers around the familiar sounds of urban life that they love and miss during this unprecedented time of social separation.”

Best enjoyed with a pair of headphones and closed eyes, you can find the evocative playlist on Spotify, or simply explore the tracks via the embedded SoundCloud player below.

New York Public Library · Missing Sounds of New York

Editors' Recommendations

Trevor Mogg
Contributing Editor
Not so many moons ago, Trevor moved from one tea-loving island nation that drives on the left (Britain) to another (Japan)…
New York City turns to remote learning as it shuts schools due to coronavirus

All schools in New York City are to close their doors from Monday, March 16 until at least April 20 -- with classes to go online-only for weeks or longer.

The measure, announced by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo on Sunday, March 15, is part of efforts to tackle the spread of the coronavirus, formally known as COVID-19.

Read more
New York Auto Show postponed due to coronavirus concerns
20198 NY Auto Show

For the first time since World War II, the New York Auto Show is being postponed, and will now begin in late August, event coordinators said -- this time due to growing concerns about the spread of COVID-19, or the novel coronavirus. The show had been scheduled for April 10 – 19. The new dates are August 28 – September 6, 2020; press days are August 26 and 27.

“We are taking this extraordinary step to help protect our attendees, exhibitors, and all participants from the coronavirus,” said Mark Schienberg, president of the Greater New York Automobile Dealers Association, the organization that owns and operates the New York Auto Show.

Read more
Uber and Lyft face a cheaper ridesharing rival in New York City
noise reduction new york city

It’s a brave company that seeks to take on the likes of Uber and Lyft in the ridesharing game.

But that’s exactly what Myle is doing in New York City.

Read more