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