Lonely Planet Writer

How to listen to the sounds of New York City while you work anywhere in the world

Chirping birds? Waterfalls? Crickets? No way, some of us are city folks through and through and the bustling sounds of the city are our ultimate way to relax. Now one company has collected the most iconic New York City sounds to help you keep your focus while you work.

Bill's Place, Harlem, New York City, October 2016
Bill’s Place, Harlem, New York City, October 2016 Image by Lottie Davies/Lonely Planet

Sounds of New York is a collection of ambient noise designed to help your productivity and many office workers in open plan spaces use them to keep their focus during their busy workday. Now instead of listening to soothing rain sounds, this collection is a series of ambient background noise from iconic New York locations.

You can listen to background jazz from Harlem’s clubs, excited tourists around Times Square, the busy supermarkets of Chinatown or the chit-chat of the cafes of Greenwich Village; perfect to work away on your laptop and pretend you’re part of urban life. In total there are sounds from 25 different neighbourhoods across the city.

The collection was created by Breather, a company that rents out workspaces across North American cities. The team decided to map out their favourite spots and then spent three months visiting and recording in them. There are possible plans to create similar ambient noise collections for Boston, Chicago, San Francisco and Los Angeles in the future.

Pell Street Chinatown New York
Chinatown is just one neighbourhood on this new collection of New York ambient noise. Image by chrbhm/Getty Images

Ambient noise is not just an aural way to do a bit of armchair travelling. In a 2012 study, researchers found that a moderate level of ambient noise boosts creativity for most people, and apps with pleasing sounds are becoming more and more popular with the rise of digital nomads. If you like your ambient noise a little further afield, the Coffitivity website and app also features background sounds from Parisian cafes and Brazilian bistros.