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Noisiest Cities in the US


Noisiest Cities in America 2024

Noise Pollution Map Of The Noisiest Cities In The Us

Whether it’s planes, trains, automobiles or just plain noisy neighbors, peace and quiet can be hard to find while living in a city.

But noise pollution isn’t just a nuisance. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, ambient noise can affect everything from mental health to cardiovascular function.

As city populations continue to grow and noise levels rise, we wanted to know: which cities in America are the noisiest?

As a leading manufacturer of industrial noise control products, and sound curtains, Steel Guard Safety analyzed key metrics related to noise pollution throughout the 100 largest cities across the country.

Our analysis utilizes data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Transportation, Federal Transit Administration, and others to identify where noise pollution is most prevalent.

Our ranking system considers metrics from a wide set of noise pollution-contributing factors, including population density, traffic density, public transportation, construction projects, number of flights per day, air pollution, number of bars and nightlife venues per square mile, and number of public parks. Each variable is assigned a weighted score based on its perceived contribution to noise levels, and the findings are then summed and ordered to present a snapshot of America’s noisiest cities.


Key Highlights

    • New York, NY earns the title of the noisiest city in America due to its combination of high population density, a vibrant nightlife scene, and a bustling public transit system.

    • Chicago secures the 2nd spot on our list, with a significant volume of incoming and outgoing flights as well as high traffic density on its roads.

    • Jersey City (No. 3) and Newark (No. 4) both furnish more public transportation per square mile than any other city in the U.S. by a factor of 2, significantly contributing to their noise pollution.

    • Despite its wide-open spaces, California is home to three cities on our top 10 list – San Francisco (No. 6), Long Beach (No. 9), and Los Angeles (No. 10), all ranking among the noisiest in the nation.

    • Washington, D.C. narrowly missed the cutoff for our top 10 list, partly due to its significant share of noise-dampening park space, totaling 24% of the city’s footprint.


Let’s face it, Americans are noisy. In our most populous 100 cities, there are 19,694,145 vehicles commuting and 37,820 commercial flights on a daily basis. Our largest cities also host an average of 4,796 residents per square mile, making noise pollution inevitable.

However, this noise isn’t evenly distributed. For example, residents of Huntsville, AL, only have to contend with 0.7 clubs and bars per square mile, while those living in New York City are swimming in nightlife venues, with 78.1 bars and clubs per square mile.

With population density come amenities, which can add to a city’s noise pollution score. For example, many of the top 10 noisiest cities in the U.S. have the most public transit options available to citizens, but all those buses, subways, and trains can significantly increase noise pollution.

A notable mitigating factor is the percentage of park space in each city. Parks, often composed of organic materials, can dampen the spread of noise pollution and provide residents with a respite from the thrum of city living. Many mid-sized cities on our list boast park space totaling over 15% of the city footprint, lowering the overall noise pollution in each space.



Top 10 Noisiest Cities in America

#1. New York, New York

New York conjures images of a bustling, Wall Street-fueled metropolis where people are always shouting about where they’re walking, but that’s just in the daytime. The nightlife scene is the beating heart of New York’s noise problem; the city that never sleeps has more nightlife venues than any other city in the U.S. by almost a factor of 3, and with 27,543 residents per square mile, chances are someone’s ready to tear up some karaoke at a bar near you every night of the week.


#2. Chicago, Illinois

The Windy City is home to one of the nation’s busiest airports, Chicago O’Hare International. For some residents, it might feel like there’s a runway in their backyard, especially for those living on the Northwest side. The volume of commercial flights is the highest of any city on our list, with an average of 2,227 going in and out of Chicago airports in a single day. Along with air traffic, residents on the ground find little reprieve from the noise. Chicago ranks 9th for cities with the highest commuter vehicle density, with 2,892 vehicles per square mile clogging up the roads each workday, according to the Census Bureau.


#3. Jersey City, New Jersey

There’s no way around it – Jersey City is often one big traffic jam. With an average one-way commute of 37.4 minutes and 3,139 cars commuting per square mile per day, it’s among the higher-scoring cities for traffic noise across the U.S. And while its robust public transportation scheme (183.2 public transit vehicles per square mile) earns the city serious environmental brownie points, it also contributes to the city’s transit-based noise issues.


#4. Newark, New Jersey

With an average of nearly 1,000 commercial flights per day, you’ve likely had a layover in Newark. Maybe you’ve taken a train from Newark to Penn Station or driven through the “Gateway to the Garden State.'' Whether you’re just passing through or are on a long-term basis with Newark, chances are you’ve been a part of the cacophonous shuffle from point A to point B that the city is known for.


#5. Boston, Massachusetts

If you want to go where everybody knows your name, then Boston is home to an excellent bar scene, with 28 nightlife venues per square mile. Factor in the 13,442 residents packed into that same square mile, and the clinking glasses can become hard to tune out. Aside from its stand-out event spaces and high population density, the city has a healthy mix of noise contributors, including a 546.3 new construction jobs per 100,000 metro residents, 3,143 public transportation vehicles, and 2,687 cars commuting per day per square mile.


#6. San Francisco, California

From the Golden Gate Bridge to the city’s iconic cable cars, San Francisco is home to several transportation-based landmarks, and all that transit creates quite a bit of racket. The city tops New York City for cars commuting per square mile (3,145), and has 1,913 public transit vehicles in circulation. Density also turns up the dial – with 17,234 residents per square mile, the city is more densely populated than other American giants like Chicago and Boston.


#7. Miami, Florida

Miami has the highest level of traffic density of any city on our top 10 list, with 4,078 cars commuting per square mile, according to the Census Bureau. While the city conjures images of a nonstop nightlife bonanza, this isn’t the core noise contributor – despite its world-famous beaches, the city is lacking park space (only 7% of the total footprint), which means noise that does occur carries further. Add to this nearly 20,000 ongoing construction projects in 2023 and you’ll get a sneak peek at the real soundtrack of the upcoming Grand Theft Auto.


#8. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Philadelphia is a city of balance – old and new, rivalries and brotherly love, 11,665 people per square mile and 13% of those miles being made up of park space. There’s no overwhelming reason for Philadelphia’s noisiness – its ranking lies in a mixture of its 625 flights per day, 11.1 nightlife venues per square mile, 457.8 construction permits per 100,000 metro residents, and more than 2,700 public transit vehicles in circulation.


#9. Long Beach, California

Somewhere between its legendary Pride parade and the Grand Prix, Long Beach manages to fit 3,193 commuter cars per square mile. The city also has quite a bit of construction underway (427.7 projects per 100,000 residents), and with only 8% of the city’s map occupied by parks, the traffic and building noise aren’t naturally dampened much.


#10. Los Angeles, California

Tinseltown rewards larger-than-life personalities and bold voices, but no one person or thing dominates the noisy conversation in LA. The city earns its top 10 spot with a melange of 2,625 commuter cars per square mile, 3,985 public vehicles in circulation, 427.7 construction permits per 100,000 metro residents, and an average of 1,472 commercial flights per day.


Top 10 Noisiest Cities By Population And Vehicles

In unveiling the noisiest cities in America, some surprises jump out (e.g., laid-back California is home to 14 of the top 50 noisiest cities in America), but for the most part, our densest, most bustling metropolises are also our loudest.

These data points can help guide residential decision-making, urban planning and the execution of common-sense steps to ease the negative effects of noise pollution.



To determine our ranking, we analyzed key factors related to noise pollution in the most populated 100 cities across the country. The study focuses on three broad categories including population density, ground and air traffic as well as environment. The total score for each city is calculated by summing the weighted scores for each metric. The weights were assigned based on the perceived impact of each factor on noise levels in order to identify the "noisiest cities."


Population Density (20 points):

Examines the concentration of residents per square mile in each city. Higher population density often correlates with increased noise levels due to more human activity and infrastructure, making it a key factor in assessing noise.


Construction Permits Per 100,000 (15 points):

Measures the impact of construction activity on noise levels, considering yearly construction permits per 100,000 metropolitan area residents. Construction noise is a significant contributor to urban noise pollution. Cities with high construction activity may experience elevated noise levels.


Air Traffic (8 points):

Quantifies the daily commercial air traffic in each city. Air traffic contributes to noise pollution, especially for those living near airports. Cities with high air traffic may experience increased noise levels.


Percent of Park Space (5 points):

Evaluates the accessibility to green spaces, which can provide potential noise buffers for residents. Cities with more park space offer residents areas to escape noise, contributing to a quieter living environment.


Average Commute Time (12 points):

Assesses the average commute time, indicating potential traffic-related noise. Longer commute times may indicate higher ground traffic and increased noise levels, impacting residents' daily lives.


Traffic Density (15 points):

Measures the density of commuting vehicles on the roads per square mile. High vehicle traffic density can contribute significantly to noise levels, especially during peak hours.


Public Transportation (8 points):

Measures the density of public transportation vehicles like buses and trains per square mile. Higher density may lead to increased noise pollution, especially in urban areas.


Air Quality (5 points):

Examines the frequency of days with good air quality, indicating potential pollution and emissions. Poor air quality is often associated with increased noise levels, making this a relevant metric for gauging overall environmental noise.


Bars/Nightlife (12 points):

Quantifies the density of bars, nightlife, and music venues per square mile. Nightlife activities contribute to noise, particularly in entertainment districts.


Sources: U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey 2022, Trust for Public Land, Environmental Protection Agency Air Quality Index, Department of Transportation, Bureau of Transportation Statistics, Federal Transit Administration, Yelp


Fair Use: Feel free to use this data and research with proper attribution linking to this study.

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