Silence in the City

  • Noise is apparently killing us, or so says a recent book by George Prochnik called In Pursuit of Silence. Mr. Prochnik isn't easy on New York, who calls our public spaces "noise dumping grounds."

    Whether you actually think our noisy city is taking years off your life or you'd just like to find some peace and quiet, here are some of the city's quietest buildings.

    Above: The New York Public Library is one recommendation, if you don't count all the shhhhing. Decibel level: 40

  • Only in New York do you pay for naps. YeloSpa NYC offers private cocoon-like cabins, where you can enjoy some serious silent slumber. We imagine the decibel level is pretty close to zero, but the price tag is a shocking $15 for a 20-minute snooze while your desk at work offers that for free.

  • Mr. Prochnik recommends popping into churches as some of the city's last remaining enclaves of silence. Indeed, if there's any building in New York that's empty these days, it tends to be these. Of course, the added bonus is that you can finally have an excuse to check out some of the city's most beautiful architecture. Decibel level: 25 (Above: St. Patrick's Cathedral in midtown.)

  • If you survive the jarring subway ride all the way past 190th Street, you can indeed find some peace and quiet up here. Of course, that may also be because most people think there's not much to do at the MoMA's duller cousin other than listen to the leaves rustle. Still, it does enjoy the distinction of being the only reconstructed medieval castle in New York. Decibel level: 15

  • When Mr. Prochnik was on WNYC's Brian Lehrer Show, many people called in to recommend Central Park as a place to find some peace. Seriously? Decibel level: 60 plus