New Yorkers boast of a city that never sleeps, but one of the coolest places on Earth can also be one of the noisiest. The average noise level in Times Square is a whopping 80 decibels. For comparison’s sake, a whisper is measured at 20 decibels and normal conversation is around 65.
Other cities are equally noisy: Las Vegas’ Strip averages 68 decibels and San Francisco’s Union Square is 65. A quiet suburb is far quieter (50) and rural areas, by comparison, are practically silent (30) — unless there’s a vacuum cleaner running, which can ratchet noise levels back to 70 decibels. But even that doesn’t compare to the city subways, with a noise level of 102 decibels.
After a while, that noise takes a toll, leading to hearing loss, stress and hypertension.