Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Mysteries: That low mechnaical hum from behind Sixth Street


An EV Grieve reader writes in with the following...

I live on 6th between Ave A and B, north side of the street, middle of the block. Our bedroom in the the back of the building. The past few nights I've noticed a low mechanical hum that rises and falls like a wave. It starts at about 11 pm and continues through the night (or at least the next few hours I was awake).

It is almost definitely coming from outside/backyard. Or possibly the basement? I've only been in the apt. for three months and have only noticed it in the last three days, if that gives any clues. My girlfriend hears it too so that rules out delusions...

Ever notice this or hear other complaints?


I have not. In such situations, I usually blame ConEd. Or maybe UFOs/fireballs, like the one spotted last summer.

Anyway, do you have any ideas or explanation as to what this may be?

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

There is a con ed sub station on A btw 5th & 6th. Maybe, it's fixin' to blow!

EV Grieve said...

Yeah, there's quite a hum coming from that sub-station, but it seems pretty steady — not rising and falling, as it were, per the resident. And this may be too far from where the resident lives...

Goggla said...

If there is a restaurant/bar nearby, it could be their vents kicking on out back. I live with that and don't notice the hum until the fans are turned off and it's suddenly quiet.

Anonymous said...

I'm on 4th b/t A and B, and I heard the same thing this AM. It sounds like ocean waves coming in and out.

EV Grieve said...

Hmm... there's also that newish residential building on the south side of Seventh Street, about half way down the block.... I think it's No. 212... Wonder if those units have central air...

Brad said...

621 east 6th street is a really strange building - 8 floors tall, def not commercial (no loading ramp, cars park right in front), def not residential (a single window runs up the outer face).

I've always wondered what it was.

Grieve said...

Thanks for the comment, Brad... Did you mean 421 E. 6th St. by chance? That's the studio for sculptor Walter De Maria...

http://evgrieve.com/2008/09/about-that-giant-robot-laboratory-on.html

Brad said...

Hi Grieve: Yes, my bad. Great background and article. Mystery solved.

Anonymous said...

Its more than likely HVAC (air conditioning) considering that it is warmer now. But it seems that it is white noise so I am sure it is something that can easily be gotten use to.

honey west said...

I'm one of the former tenants of 47 e3rd st and I heard this noise all the time, going back several years. My apartment was at the back of the building,facing e4th st. I could never find out where it was coming from but I only noticed it when the weather was warm, which led me to believe it was some kind of air conditioning unit, too.

Anonymous said...

I live on 6th between B and C and I have totally been hearing that noise. It's like a low whine. And I've lived here for years, this particular weird noise just started happening within the last few months or so, when the weather was cold so not AC.

I might guess it has something to do with the building someone mentioned, the new one in the middle of 7th. That one took about 2 years to build which was such a nightmare I had 311 on speed dial.
I believe it's city housing and I don't know that anyone actually lives in it yet after all that.

Anonymous said...

There's also that Time Warner substation building at the Chico mural on Ave C and 6th. I remember it was running on a generator during the blackout

laurajaynemartin said...

Hi! I figured it out. It was a huge, old a.c unit in the neighboring building. Our bedroom window is about 3 feet away from it, but their building curves so you can't see it unless you walk to the middle of the backyard and turn around. Sorry to all those hearing other strange noises--this is probably not what you're hearing.

EV Grieve said...

Good to hear! Glad you figured it out... though I'm secretly disappointed that it wasn't UFOs.