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Old Posted Sep 6, 2019, 4:29 PM
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The Geography of the Nose and Ears

Recently I was cycling through a poorer part of my city, and while it was far from the first time I went through there, for some reason I really noticed the smells and sounds. When I headed back home I paid particular attention to the smells and sounds in my neighbourhood.

Now, to give proper context the poorer area probably had industry at one point in its history but has not had anything of that sort in generations. So no industrial smells.

So the dominant smells in this poorer district seemed to cigarette smoke, and what I assume to be some type of cheap laundry detergent.

Back in my upper class suburban neighbourhood, the dominant smells were freshly cut grass, flowers and other forms of vegetation.

In the poorer district, due to people having their windows open (often due to not having AC) and also little setback for houses, you actually hear people talking when biking by. The dominant languages I heard were Québécois colloquial French and some immigrant languages too.

In my neighbourhood the dominant sound is... nothing. OK maybe a swoosh sound from distant traffic, but other than that it's very quiet. You might hear the sounds of kids playing somewhere nearby (if school isn't in) and the hum of backyard pool or spa pumps...
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Old Posted Sep 6, 2019, 4:46 PM
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Interesting idea for a thread.

Living in a dry and oftentimes cold environment like Winnipeg, there isn't too much for the nose to take in unless there is some agricultural smell wafting in (mainly St. Boniface Industrial Park's mushroom plant, smoke from stubble-burning fires, or the inexplicable manure smell you can catch of a whiff of sometimes).

I definitely notice when I'm in warmer, more humid places where every block has a different smell... Hong Kong is the world champion of this.

Sounds though, pretty much the standard urban and suburban sounds you hear just about anywhere. The predominant sounds come from motorized transportation.
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Old Posted Sep 6, 2019, 4:48 PM
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One of the things about high-wealth areas is that people have the luxury of tailoring their living environment to exclude things that are sometimes unwelcome - generally, that means other people not like them. In a sense, the ability to isolate one's self is a privilege of the wealthy. I'm not sure that's necessarily a good thing.

Effectively, high-wealth areas become isolated little bubbles with sub-bubbles of individual housing.

Eventually, these sub-bubbles form their own isolated cliques of politics. If problems are out of sight, they're out of mind. We see this to a large extent in cities in the US, where poverty and wealthy areas tend to very distinct. The Upper West Side and the Bronx were only a few miles apart, but worlds apart in terms of experience.

This is why mixed neighbourhoods are important. By having neighbourhoods that have a variety of wealth, you prevent these cliques from forming and the entrenchment of problems.

Good on you for noticing things. Breaking out of the the daily routine and 'noticing' things is good.
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Old Posted Sep 6, 2019, 4:57 PM
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St. John's tends to smell like nothing. Downtown on Harbour Drive and Water Street you'll likely smell salt water, likewise in the Battery. Outside of that it smells of nothing but fresh air. When the Golden Chain trees are flowering in the early summer you can really smell those, but that's only for a week or so. Sometimes if the wind is blowing just right, and there's some serious work happening at the farmland in the Goulds, the city will stink of manure.

Sounds vary. In my neighbourhood I'm sandwiched between the main parkway (4-6 lanes) and Kenmount Road, one of the busiest streets in the city. The provinces largest hospital is also nearby. So I usually hear the low roar of traffic, but it's usually only really noticeable if a loud vehicle or motor cycle speeds along. I hear sirens a lot as well. I've gotten used to it though, none of that bothers me.

Only notable sound exception: on breezy days in the late spring/summer/early fall, my entire house is surrounded by mature trees, so there is a constant sound of leaves blowing.
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Old Posted Sep 6, 2019, 5:18 PM
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In my neighborhood in Lévis there's a commercial bakery and it's frequent that the entire area gets inundated by a powerful smell of fresh bread. Love it and if they had a little counter to sell stuff to the public, I think they'd have sold me croissants several times just based on the mouthwatering smell. (Even though I barely eat pastries anymore; too unhealthy.)
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Old Posted Sep 6, 2019, 5:29 PM
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More on-topic:

I live in a lower-middle class area with a mix of younger families and retirees. It's low to moderate density, with an arterial road quite close by. There's also a lake quite nearby.

Aside from the dumpster in the summer, the smells are fairly benign. The breeze off the lake keeps things reasonably fresh.

The sounds are ones you'd probably expect for this kind of neighbourhood: kids playing, parents giving heck to said kids, someone working on an outdoor project, the arterial road's traffic. When the noise from the day dies down, the sound of waves crashing on the beach can be heard (it's super relaxing).

A recent note: I was out of the city at a provincial park recently and you forget how noisy places are until you are somewhere really quiet. At night, one could hear vehicles on the road miles away.
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Old Posted Sep 6, 2019, 6:07 PM
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I live about 1.5 km from the QEW and 2 km from the train tracks. I don't go too often to my backyard at night but if I do and just sit there I can definitely hear the cars on the highway and freight trains moving. But it's far enough in the distance that it's basically just quite ambient noise. Nothing bothersome. This is the suburbs.

I've spent some nights in a really urbanized part of Montreal in an old house without AC so the windows were open at night. It kept me up and would wake me up pretty often because you could hear everything. It's something you have to get used to I suppose.

When I was in Manhattan for 12 days in a street-facing brownstone, even with the window closed (very old window and frame), you could hear every service and garbage truck. And I'm pretty sure they have 24 hour garbage collection. So it was not a restful couple of weeks. My cousin became accustomed to it and would sleep right through.

I think there's a lot of people who say they would love to live in the country under the stars but then realize they miss that ambient background noise. Though they get to keep the fire pit running and take in that wonderful smell year round. My neighbour at home four doors over has a fire pit and I'm not sure it's legal but no one complains as the smell is quite nice.
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Old Posted Sep 6, 2019, 7:27 PM
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Stratford isn't big enough to keep the agricultural smells at bay, so on the spring and fall days when they spray the corn fields the whole town smells of pig shit. Otherwise, it's really quiet and sedate around here. No teeming tenements with hip hop blasting out of the windows.

The North End of Hamilton used to and probably still is blanketed by a powerful industrial stench that you don't really notice when you live there. Though I'll never forget the particularly sourish, slightly vomitous tinge to it in the area of Burlington and Wellington that never failed to catch me off guard. Wouldn't want to live near that.

Quote:
Originally Posted by wave46 View Post
A recent note: I was out of the city at a provincial park recently and you forget how noisy places are until you are somewhere really quiet. At night, one could hear vehicles on the road miles away.
This is the reason I like to make the eyebrow-raising comment to snooty rural types that I wouldn't want to live in the countryside because it's too noisy. One time several years ago my wife and I went to look at a place in the countryside that was for sale, and we were shocked by the din of the passing traffic.
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Old Posted Sep 6, 2019, 7:35 PM
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Nothing really notable here when it comes to smells. It's only when you get out near the farms or the dump that they stand out.

Sounds... I always feel I'm home in Rabbittown when there's a very trashy, loud domestic outside. "You c*********" b**** I paid for that half case!". My favourite romantic one is the shuffle noise girls in heels make on the steeper streets.
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Old Posted Sep 6, 2019, 7:46 PM
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I live within walking distance of two chocolate factories (Nestle and Cadbury) and just about directly in the middle, so when the wind is blowing the right it smells delicious. Other than that I haven't really noticed many out of the ordinary smells. The area near my work on the other hand increasingly smells like piss as you walk near any nook or subway entrance...

As for noise I can't say I notice much other than occasional sirens - it's really interesting how it dies down once you get about 50m in from a major street. When I lived closer to one there was constant traffic and streetcar noise (well, more vibration).
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Old Posted Sep 6, 2019, 7:54 PM
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Smelt stale piss in the park, stale piss in the underpass, stale piss by the office tower. Downtown is pretty much a urinal.
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Old Posted Sep 6, 2019, 8:01 PM
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Where I am in Winnipeg you can tell with a good degree of accuracy if (non-thunderstorm) rain is coming based on the "St.Boniface smell" (rendering plants, mushroom growers) that is brought in by the prevailing easterly winds that accompany the rain.

Wolseley is also "loud". Sirens and police helicopter by night. General urban noises by day.

It is kinda cool to be somewhere in the Shield in the dead of winter on a calm night. It is absolutely silent. No leaves, no insects, no birds - and a blanket of snow. No smells either for that matter.
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Old Posted Sep 6, 2019, 8:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by esquire View Post

I definitely notice when I'm in warmer, more humid places where every block has a different smell... Hong Kong is the world champion of this.

.
You get this a little bit in Canada's three biggest cities too, especially in inner areas during the summer. Chinatowns in particular offer a different olfactory environment, as can some other neighbourhoods especially ethnic ones.

It's moderately noticeable in Ottawa's small Chinatown, and to some degree in Little Italy on Preston St.
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Old Posted Sep 6, 2019, 8:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rousseau View Post
Stratford isn't big enough to keep the agricultural smells at bay, so on the spring and fall days when they spray the corn fields the whole town smells of pig shit. .
I am in the city limits but close enough to rural areas that I get that too in the spring and fall. It usually only lasts one day in each season. Cornfields here as well.
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Old Posted Sep 6, 2019, 8:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wave46 View Post

Aside from the dumpster in the summer, the smells are fairly benign.
You reminded me that my suburban neighbourhood smelled rather bad for a few days this summer when the trash collection contractor hired by the city screwed up their collection schedule, and everyone's garbage cans and compost bins remained by the curb for a couple of days in 30 degree heat.
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Old Posted Sep 6, 2019, 8:40 PM
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I live in the country, so we get the manure smell occasionally, but it usually lasts for only a couple hours at most.

In a few weeks we will have a pleasant smell when they start smoking the tobacco harvest.

There is also a hemp field nearby, that I've smelled a couple times when the wind was just right.

As for sound, it's dead silent except for spring peepers in the spring and crickets and cicadas in late summer. The crickets are very loud here on a warm night
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Old Posted Sep 6, 2019, 10:45 PM
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I live in a typical suburban neighbourhood so nothing out of the ordinary here. The DND Headquarters are located about 2 km away so I do hear/see the occasional military helicopter, which I find surprising as I didn’t see a landing area there on Google Maps. Unless they somehow land at the two other military facilities in the area.
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Old Posted Sep 7, 2019, 12:03 AM
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When I first came to Vancouver I noticed a distinct forest vegetation smell in the summer, I described it as fresh, but some described it as musty. It's unlike anything back east and I still notice it every year. I think it's the smell of the rainforest and it can permeate the city. I really notice the ocean too sometimes, especially at night. It's similar to the Atlantic, palpable in areas like the west end, near the water of course. As for more urban smells, there are are the usual ones in some areas like breweries, etc., there used to be a fish processing facility near here which bothered some people, but it since moved out. There used to be sawmills too. Sometimes in the summer the odor of agricultural manure is common, it wafts in from south of the Fraser and hangs in the air. Another common urban smell on the street is marijuana. Mostly the traffic fumes smell is not severe here, having electric busses seems to help. Back alleys in commercial areas are their own thing, a variety, not always good. I'll limit this post to just olfactory observations.
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Old Posted Sep 7, 2019, 4:47 PM
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Winnipeg definitely has the bad smells. Manure fertilizer on the fields and the mushroom plant. I live in the north side of the city and i can sometimes smell what i believe is the mushroom plant. I used to live in East Kildonan and the smells were worse. It is different than the smell of pig manure on the fields. But there are the good smells also. The lilacs in June permeate the air with a fresh sweet smell. Later on in summer, i can smell the canola in bloom. Still later on the harvest time has a unique smell. Forest fires have a nice smokey campfire smell. Unless it gets too I usually enjoy it. Rains freshen the air. Karpaty meats near my home leaves a nice smell when they smoke their meat. The bakeries smell great.
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Old Posted Sep 7, 2019, 6:42 PM
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^ FWIW I actually don't mind the mushroom smell. I wouldn't say it's a great smell like a nice perfume or fresh baking, but I don't find it offensive either.
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