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