Photo via Nick Allen on Flickr
With its 8.5 million residents, honking taxis, constant construction and vibrant nightlife scene, New York City remains one of the noisiest places on Earth. Although quieter neighborhoods like the Upper East Side once offered a quiet reprieve from the city’s cacophony, these pockets of peace are getting harder to find as NYC’s population expands. As the New York Times reported, despite the fact that noise pollution has already been linked to harmful health effects like stress, hypertension and heart disease, about 420,000 noise complaints were filed citywide with the city’s 311 hotline in 2016, more than doubling the number of complaints made in 2011.
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Sidewalk sheds, or scaffolding, are so pervasive in New York City they almost become part of a neighborhood’s landscape. While used to protect people from falling debris, scaffolding continues to be an omnipresent eyesore that blocks sunlight and views, attracts crime and slows foot traffic. Now, thanks to a new map by the city’s Department of Buildings, residents can explore more than 7,700 sidewalk sheds, each labeled with a color-coded dot highlighting the reason for its construction, its age, and its size. As the New York Times covered, there are currently 280 miles of sidewalk scaffolding in front of 7,752 buildings in the city (way up from the 190 miles we covered just a little over a year ago), which is enough to encircle Manhattan nearly nine times.
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Like an unwanted visitor, well-intentioned but present well after becoming a daily nuisance, New York City’s familiar green sidewalk scaffolding seems to contradict the laws of gravity: It goes up but never really seems to come down. Now, the New York Times reports, a new City Council bill would require that scaffolding be taken down after six months–sooner if no work is being done.
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