Mysterious Noises on 46th Street

This is amazing. I’ve stood at the center of Times Square hundreds of times, and lived in NYC for over a decade, but I never noticed the sounds of Times Square, an auditory art installation beneath the subway grates on the island between 7th Avenue and Broadway, just below 46th Street. Nor have I ever heard about it, from anyone, until today when my wife, Margit, came across this. (We went and checked it out, and sure enough, it’s there.) Emma Steinh at

Times_squareIn the midst of Times Square, the bustling, light filled, people-packed, center of New York City, there is a secret. As many as one thousand people in an hour cross the pedestrian island that runs between 45th and 46th Street where Broadway and 7th Avenue intersect, not noticing that there is anything that differentiates this island from all the others in Manhattan. However those people with particularly open ears, or those who happen to be walking slightly below the average New York pace, may notice a mysterious humming noise, rather like the clanking of a distant machine. If any of these people were to pause and stand still for a moment, the machine noise would begin to merge with a sound like church bells, seeming to emanate from some unseen place in the sky. They would look up, searching for the origin of the sound, but what they would see are the lights, buildings and advertisements of Times Square backed not by traffic, hollering, and rushing, but by strangely beautiful tones: gongs, bells and drones. The pedestrian island becomes enveloped in a block of sound, as the noise from the surrounding environment fades into the background.

Although no plaque can be found, no explanatory text to accompany this unique experience, it is, in fact, a work of art, entitled Times Square, and its artist is Max Neuhaus. The work was originally installed at the same site from 1977-1992, at which point Neuhaus dismantled it because he had to return to Europe and the piece required constant monitoring. However, Times Square was missed, and during 2001 and 2002, the Times Square Street Business Improvement District (BID), Christine Burgin, the MTA Arts for Transit, and the Dia Art Foundation collaborated to reinstate Neuhaus’s project. The block of sound returned to 46th Street on 22 May 2002, where it has remained for the public to experience twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.

More here.  Thanks Margit!