Photo via Wiki Commons
Sorry, New York. Ellis Island, America’s first and biggest immigration center, technically belongs to New Jersey. In May of 1998, the Supreme Court ended a long-standing argument between New Jersey and the Empire State over who actually owns the Island, as Smithsonian Magazine discovered. Based on a land claims agreement between the two states made before Ellis Island became a gateway for nearly 12 million immigrants, the Court decided it belonged mostly to New Jersey, in addition to the federal government, since it’s overseen by the National Park Service.
But it wasn’t so easy
Looking for peace and quiet? Well you aren’t going to find it in NYC–or for the most part, the eastern half of the United States. A fascinating new map created by the National Park Service (NPS) shows us where we can find solace in silence (head for the dark blue) and where to expect sleepless nights (avoid the yellow). The map was generated from 1.5 million hours of acoustical monitoring, produced from staking out areas as remote as Dinosaur National Monument in Utah to our very own bustling NYC for representative samples to model sound—on an average summer day—across the entire surface of the US. From there, the NPS used algorithms that considered measurements like air quality and street traffic volume to improve the predictions. The quietest places to emerge from the bunch included Yellowstone National Park and the Great Sand Dunes National Park where noise levels were lower than 20 decibels—a silence as deep as before European colonization, researchers say. Noise levels in cities like ours averaged 50 to 60 decibels by comparison. The map is ultimately being used to determine how human-made noise is affecting wildlife with hearing more sensitive than human ears, like owls and bats that rely on quiet for hunting.
[Related: Rudolf Stefanich’s SONO Could Help Block Out City Noise and Keep Your Home Quiet]