Sounds of Chinatown aims to create a living record of the sounds that add to the unique culture and makeup of New York City’s Manhattan Chinatown community – recorded and described by those who encounter it. Sounds and noises in urban environments paint a picture and contribute to our memories about a specific place or time. This platform is a space for visitors to listen and share their various experiences through the perspective of sound. We hope that the sound experiences and data found on this site will also help to draw attention to issues related to the impact of urban noise on Chinatown residents.
Our website is a collaboration between researchers from the Center for the Study of Asian American Health (CSAAH) at the NYU Grossman School of Medicine, the Sounds of New York City (SONYC) project team at the NYU Tandon’s Center for Urban Science and Progress (CUSP), community stakeholders in New York’s Manhattan Chinatown, including residents of Chung Pak LDC, and local individuals who live, work and visit Chinatown, like you!
Chinatown – Through Our Ears
Chinatown is a thriving neighborhood within a vibrant and constantly changing city. Local residents and visitors to the area are exposed to a daily variety of lively and bustling sights, smells, and sounds as they walk through its streets.
Chinatown is also a neighborhood exposed to frequent change as generations move in, grow and build, and move away, when older shops or businesses are replaced by newer ones, or when buildings are torn down only to be replaced by bigger, taller ones. This is in part due to the fact that Chinatown is located in the center of downtown Manhattan, serving as a major truck route through the lower half of the city. The areas around Canal Street and the Manhattan Bridge are some of the noisiest in New York.
The impact that city sounds have on residents living near each other and alongside major streets that make up urban neighborhoods is hard to ignore. What is more, being exposed to loud noises may have long-term health impact, such as causing hearing damage – noise does not have to be loud in order to be harmful to health. Exposure to any noise for a lengthy amount of time may affect a person’s quality of life and mental well-being.
We hope this collaborative project offers a new and exciting way to engage with Chinatown as a living, changing neighborhood, and helps visitors to Chinatown think of culturally relevant and hands-on community participatory ways to address and to reduce noise pollution.
How does Chinatown sound to you?
What memories do the varied sounds of Chinatown come to your mind?
What are things that you or I can do to make sure community concerns about neighborhood noise are heard by those who can make things better?
The NYU Center for the Study of Asian American Health (CSAAH) is a National Institutes of Health (NIH) National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) funded National Research Center of Excellence. CSAAH was established in 2003 through an NIH NCMHD Project EXPORT (Excellence in Partnership, Outreach, Research, and Training) Center grant. Based at the Section for Health Equity within the Department of Population Health at NYU Grossman School of Medicine, CSAAH is the only Center of its kind in the country that is solely dedicated to research and evaluation on Asian American health and health disparities. CSAAH is committed to identifying Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander health priorities and reducing health disparities by integrating and building on the work of researchers and over 75 Asian American community, government, business and academic/medical partners. Visit us at med.nyu.edu/asian-health.
SONYC is a National Science Foundation (NSF) funded project to monitor and help mitigate urban noise pollution, based at the Center of Urban Science and Progress (CUSP) at the NYU Tandon School of Engineering. The SONYC approach combines a network of low-cost sensors to capture data about noise, with big data analysis and machine learning to better understand the causes of noise, and on the ground collaborations with community groups and municipal agencies to measure and mitigate the impact of noise pollution. For more information about the SONYC project visit https://wp.nyu.edu/sonyc/
The Chung Pak complex consists of two non-profit organizations, one of which provide 88 senior citizen affordable housing units for older adult residents aged between 85 and 100 years old. Chung Pak also provides 15,000 square feet community facility and retail establishment space to serve the working families in the Manhattan Downtown area. The commercial mall and retail shops in the complex include a major comprehensive health clinic, a childcare center, and other essential services that bolster the working families from the area greatly improving their quality of life. To learn more about Chung Pak LDC, visit: http://chungpakldc.org.
Founded in 1972, Immigrant Social Services, Inc. (ISS) has diligently and proudly supported multiple generations of new immigrants and other under-resourced community members in NYC’s Lower East Side and Chinatown toward an improved quality of life and thriving future. ISS provides out-of-school time programs for children and youth, senior and intergenerational programs, civic education and outreach, and counseling services. In delivering programs to community members, ISS partners with a diverse base of community stakeholders that include schools, parents, residents, businesses, community organizations, and public entities. http://issnyc.org/
This website has also been developed through generous funding support provided by the AARP Foundation. AARP is the nation’s largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to empowering people 50 and older to choose how they live as they age. With a nationwide presence and nearly 38 million members, AARP strengthens communities and advocates for what matters most to families: health security, financial stability and personal fulfillment. AARP also produces the nation's largest circulation publications: AARP The Magazine and AARP Bulletin. To learn more, visit www.aarp.org or follow @AARP and @AARPadvocates on social media. NYU Grossman School of Medicine is a recipient of a 2020 AARP Community Challenge grant, one of six grantees selected in New York.
- Go for a Sound Walk (or two!) through Chinatown.
- See the noise data captured from noise sensors in the heart of Chinatown.
- Find out how noise impacts your health and the health of residents in Chinatown.
- Listen to the older adults living at Chung Pak tell their stories.
- Capture and share your own sound memories of New York’s Manhattan Chinatown.
- Engage with community stakeholders on noise issues in Chinatown.