What keeps You Up at Night?

I’m originally from New York – the city that never sleeps. I used to sleep through fire engine sirens, traffic noise, people, music from local nightspots, and all the sounds a bustling city embraces.

In 1978, I moved to Connecticut at a time when restaurants closed way too early and that glass of wine I ordered at the local “nightclub” was whisked out of my hand by 1:00 am, despite my pleas that “the night is still young.” My culture shock deepened when I attempted to go to sleep in my new home in a totally residential area – no restaurants, no nightclubs, no trains or buses, just darkened houses, trees, grass and a deafening silence. The noises I grew up with were missing; noises that were now a comfort lost far away. I often complained about the quiet saying I could hear my hair grow! It was several years before I became accustomed to sleeping without at least the sound of the television or radio.

Fort Washington Avenue | Photo/Karstan Moran

My daughter, a journalist, poet and writer, moved back to New York City several years ago to teach journalism in a special program at a school in the Bronx. She wanted to live in Manhattan where we used to live, but still close enough to work and public transportation to cut down traveling a long distance everyday. So she moved into in a wonderful pre-war apartment at the edge of Washington Heights and the beginning of Ft. Washington neighborhoods in upper Manhattan. 

Her apartment is large by New York standards with three bedrooms, a large living room, 12′ ceilings, huge windows to capture the glitter of the New York lights at night and conveniently located for work and play. An added bonus is the bus that takes her to work stops at the corner of her street.

The neighborhood has everything to offer, wonderful deli’s, restaurants and cafés, movie theaters, great wine shops, and is in walking distance between various ethnic neighborhoods where one can spend hours sampling foods from different parts of the world and soaking in a variety of culture, art, music and dance.

My husband and I visited last weekend and everything was great until we tried to go to sleep – we couldn’t. Each time the buses came and went, we heard them along with the conversations of the passengers. The sirens, the constant noise, someone yelling “TAXI” to the top of their lungs at 3:00 am. And one thing I forgot about the old New York apartment buildings, the heat is always turned up to 90 degrees so we couldn’t close the windows. In addition, the room we slept in faces a small courtyard and across the way is the heating/cooling system for the building next door, which “fires up” automatically just about every hour. The system was so loud each time it “turned on,” it drowned out all the other noises.

Thinking ahead to our next visit, the first thought was finding a hotel with sound-proofed rooms. But on our way home, we realized how close our daughter’s apartment is to the Westside Highway and how great the area is (plus the added bonus of indoor parking). We quickly decided we could stand the noise in exchange for a wonderful weekend in Gotham’s Big Apple.

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