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21 iconic sounds of NYC you'll instantly recognize

12. "Beer here" in the stands of Yankee Stadium.

Shaye Weaver
Written by
Shaye Weaver

With more than 8 million residents and about 66 million visitors each year, NYC is one of the loudest places on earth.

And although it can be difficult to be surrounded by so much noise, certain sounds are so specific to the city that they make up a sort of iconic soundtrack. NYC wouldn't be NYC without them.

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Last week, a resident asked fellow New Yorkers on Reddit to share the most iconic and recognizable sounds in NYC, and it turns out that there are so many big and little sounds that have become part of our daily lives.

Below are 21 iconic NYC sounds you'll recognize instantly:

1. A subway passing by on the express tracks at full speed

Reddit user Maraudngbchestedrojo says it sounds like, "koo koo, koo koo, koo koo whushhhhhh."

2. The hydraulic screech of the garbage truck at 1am

Right when you're trying to fall asleep.

3. Driver honking outside at all times

At 7am, 2pm, 2:05pm, 6:35pm, 10pm as Ayo_Omar_Comin says.

4. The hiss of a bus's hydraulics as it lowers down

It's also followed by several beeps and "Step away from the doors."

5. "Showtime Showtime"

It means you're about to narrowly miss getting kicked in the face by Showtime dancers on the subway.

6. The hissing and clanking of radiators in apartments

Somehow we sleep through what sounds like someone going bananas with a hammer and our own personal steam engine train. Fireal2 says it sounds like "an army of an angry leprechaun, running free through the walls with wrenches and frying pans."

7. "Stand clear of the closing doors, please"

Charlie Pellett's voice has become a comfort because it means your train is leaving the station.

8. Bucket drumming

Whether out on the street or in the subway, bucket drumming has become the hypnotizing soundtrack of commuting.

9. The skritchy sound of a skateboarder down the street

And they're always very close to you or on the sidewalk outside your window and it sounds like "duh-duh duh-duh," according to humanitiesmanatees.

10. Mister Softee's jingle

This joyous song meant for kids has become a sign of warmer temperatures. It's just part of summer in the city. If for some reason you're missing it, you can fall asleep to it on a 12-hour loop.

11. The sound of getting buzzed in

If you live in NYC, this is part of your daily life. It means friends, food, or help has arrived, and sometimes it's a rando trying to get into your building.

12. "Beer here" in the stands of Yankee Stadium

The projection of these beer hawkers is impressive and they always have the thickest New York accent.

13. The sirens of police vehicles

We can't escape police sirens so much so that they've become almost not noticeable.

14. Store gates being opened

This sound has become synonymous with the start of a new day.

15. The acceleration of delivery e-bikes

It's a quiet "whir." Johnnycupcakes says the "musical bleep-bloop noise" when they park is just as recognizable. "This one is definitely an up-and-comer on the list of classic New York sounds."

16. The "da-dunk" of a loose manhole cover

Usually made when a car rolls over it.

17. The coo of a pigeon or mourning dove

The sounds of nature at our windows!

18. The clinking of beer and wine bottles at the curb

Restaurants and bars putting out their bottles means the night is over. "That's when I know I can sleep peacefully," says Ceredron.

19. The Hare Krishna chanting and music at Union Square

The park just sounds so empty when they're not there.

20. The low-frequency hum of the city

Skycaptsteve says it best: "It’s like the collective noise of everything in the distance that seeps through the walls even if it’s quiet outside."

21. Bing Bong!

Whether it's the subway doors closing or what New Yorkers shout on the street, it's iconic!

Did you know that you can hear these sounds and more with the NYPL's Spotify "Missing sounds of New York" playlist?

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