Today’s news:

Mystery of Greenpoint ring is solved

The Brooklyn Paper

The mystery of the peculiar tone of Greenpoint has been solved!

The ethereal ring-a-ling wasn’t squeaky subway doors, amplified train signals, a noisy doorbell, a raucous cellphone ring or a rogue East River buoy as some residents suspected — it actually comes from the neighborhood’s most-famous landmark: its sewage plant.

The strange chime, which rings sporadically during the day in the northern part of the neighborhood, comes from the public address system of the Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant at the corner of Greenpoint Avenue and Provost Street.

“It’s the PA system,” said Department of Environmental Protection spokeswoman Mercedes Padilla. “It’s an internal communication device that’s being updated now. It’s a 53-acre site, so we use the intercom to communicate across it.”

The bizarre tones consists of four high pitched ring-a-lings, which last for about 15 seconds — just enough time for the sound to confuse neighbors, but not long enough for them to track down its origin.

“You can here it echoing between the buildings,” said William Beaufort, who lives at the corner of Greenpoint Avenue and McGuinness Boulevard — just one block from the sewage plant. “It sort of sounds like doorbell underwater.”

After wondering about the tone for a year and a half, Beaufort turned to the message board Brooklynian, where he found a handful of neighbors equally baffled by the ringing, but no definite answers about its cause.

“I have heard it, too,” wrote whatsthatcat. “Very odd, I have often wanted to try to venture out to discover it’s source, but I’m not a precocious pre-teen from a [young adult] novel in the 80s.”

— with Makeda Dash

Pin It
Print this story Permalink

Reader Feedback

Col. Frank Slade from Bay Ridge says:
That's the most voluptuous looking sewer treatment plant I've ever seen. It's like staring at two magnificent chrome boobies.

- erotic
Oct. 27, 2008, 2:20 pm
bk from williamsburg says:
great, now can you find out what the sort of air-raid sounding siren that goes out across williamsburg around 5 or 6?
Oct. 27, 2008, 2:57 pm
Adam from formerly sunset park says:
BK from williamsburg:

It's most likely a Jewish thing - every friday in boro park, an air-raid type siren goes off to signal the start of the sabbath.

I'm not familiar with Jewish orthodoxy, maybe someone else can clear up the significance of the timing of the siren.
Oct. 27, 2008, 5:35 pm
Charlie from Greenpoint says:
It rings day and night and needs to be turned down. Way too loud and rude.
Oct. 27, 2008, 10:56 pm
Noel from Greenpoint says:
I was wondering what that was !?!??!! How bizarre!!!
Nov. 5, 2008, 3:26 pm
SJ from BP says:
The Friday afternoon siren marks the beginning of the Sabbath each Friday which is roughly an hour before nightfall.
Nov. 6, 2008, 1:52 am
Michael from Greenpoint says:
Does anybody know the precise source of the tornado / air raid siren as heard every Friday afternoon in Greenpoint. Boro park seems too far off to be the culprit.

That brief yet awful sound is just enough to sour my mood each time it goes off. I would like to know where to complain.
May 7, 2010, 7:52 pm
Mary from Sunset Park B'klyn says:
Does anyone know if there is a sewage treatment plant near this area? I have been hearing that chime-like sound for months. It goes all hours, then sometime not at all.
Nov. 20, 2010, 8:11 am
Babs from Sunset Park B'klyn says:
Date: November 20, 2010

Does anyone know if there is a sewage treatment plant near the Sunset Park area? That sound has been around for many months. A friend living up-state did some effective research & a sewage treatment facility seems to fit the bill. Last night it went until past midnight. It was going this morning before 7 A.M. Anyone else hearing it? Especially around here?
Nov. 20, 2010, 8:27 am

Enter your comment below

By submitting this comment, you agree to the following terms:

You agree that you, and not or its affiliates, are fully responsible for the content that you post. You agree not to post any abusive, obscene, vulgar, slanderous, hateful, threatening or sexually-oriented material or any material that may violate applicable law; doing so may lead to the removal of your post and to your being permanently banned from posting to the site. You grant to the royalty-free, irrevocable, perpetual and fully sublicensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform and display such content in whole or in part world-wide and to incorporate it in other works in any form, media or technology now known or later developed.

First name
Last name
Your neighborhood
Email address
Daytime phone

Your letter must be signed and include all of the information requested above. (Only your name and neighborhood are published with the letter.) Letters should be as brief as possible; while they may discuss any topic of interest to our readers, priority will be given to letters that relate to stories covered by The Brooklyn Paper.

Letters will be edited at the sole discretion of the editor, may be published in whole or part in any media, and upon publication become the property of The Brooklyn Paper. The earlier in the week you send your letter, the better.