Times Square grate sound installation -- unnoticed.

Grate Sound Art - Times Square

Field review by the editors.

New York, New York

Every year millions of people ignore Max Neuhaus' artwork. Of course there are many artists whose work is ignored by millions, but usually not in the middle of Times Square...

Neuhaus (who died in 2009) worked with "sound installations." And if you walk over a certain metal grating on a well-trod asphalt triangle in Times Square you may notice a distinctive noise coming from below ground: a sonorous hum that resembles the echoing aftermath of someone hitting a super-sized gong. This is "Times Square," his most famous creation.

The grate.

It was intentionally left unmarked, with no informational plaque about who made it or why, because he wanted people to discover it on their own. And as the workings are invisible (with no obvious speakers in sight) most pedestrians take no notice of the sonics. We watched for a good twenty minutes and didn't see anyone slow down.

When we chose to gaze down into the vaulted space sub-sidewalk, passersby followed our lead. Then they shrugged and moved on (by the way, the accumulation of thousands of cigarette butts down below creates an unintentional visual counterpoint to the "official" artwork).

It seems that even when the occasional passerby notices the pleasant reverberations, they chalk it up to mechanical noise from the subway.

Originally installed in 1977, the piece subtly entertained eardrums for fifteen years, until it was disconnected in 1992. Times Square was just a wee bit quieter for a decade's time -- not that anyone noticed -- until it was reactivated in 2002.

So if you're ever crossing "The Crossroads of the World," take a moment to pause and listen to Neuhaus' meditative masterwork...it's grate!

[ADB]

Grate Sound Art - Times Square

Address:
W. 46th St., New York, NY
Directions:
On the north side of Times Square in midtown Manhattan. On the south side of 46th St., on the north end of the triangular traffic island between Broadway and Seventh Ave. By subway: 1, 2, 3, 7, N, Q, R, W, or S to Times Square.
Hours:
Always audible.
Save to My Sights

Nearby Offbeat Places

More Quirky Attractions in New York

Stories, reports and tips on tourist attractions and odd sights in New York.

Explore Thousands of Unique Roadside Landmarks!

Strange and amusing destinations in the US and Canada are our specialty. Start here.
Use RoadsideAmerica.com's Attraction Maps to plan your next road trip.

September 19, 2014

My Sights

Create and Save Your Own Crazy Road Trip!

Try My Sights

Roadside America app
Roadside Presidents app

New York Latest Tips and Stories

Latest Visitor Tips

Sight of the Week

Sight of the Week

The Windsor Ruins, Port Gibson, Mississippi (Sep 15-21, 2014)

SotW Archive

USA and Canada Tips and Stories

Latest Visitor Tips

Sightings. Arrives without warning. Leaves no burn marks. A free newsletter from RoadsideAmerica.com. Subscribe now!
RoadsideAmerica.com Hotel & Motel Finder

Special online rates for hotels & motels.

Nearby Hotels and Motels, New York, New York

Nightly rates found:

Book Online Now