The Ironbound vs Newark International Airport

by Aldo Nolasco

Site Description:

It’s a beautiful spring day in the Ironbound neighborhood of Newark, New Jersey. As I am officiating a soccer game I come to notice planes landing towards Newark International Airport every 10-15 minutes. I ask myself “How do the people of this community live with that noise everyday?” The Ironbound community of Newark, New Jersey faces disproportionate rates of noise pollution. Approximately 6 miles from Newark Liberty Airport there are 1,200 daily flights coming in and out.  The Port of Newark has a daily average of 15,000 trucks driving out and many drive through the Ironbound as a route to their cargo destination.  My goal is to study the impact of noise pollution on the Ironbound community for the past 40 years, the structures that enable it to occur and potential solutions to mitigate the effects of noise pollutition. Noise pollution is an issue that needs to be recognized and the location of your community plays a role in the quality of life one will receive. 

Author Biography:

My name is Aldo Nolasco. I’m a social studies teacher at Newark Tech High School of Essex County Schools of Technology. As a child and to this today I always ask myself why certain communities suffer so much pollution in what they call home. Whether it be smog, toxins, noise pollution or even a clean neighborhood filled with potholes and garbage laying around for days. Why is it that one’s zip code usually determines the quality of life an individual will receive. As an educator for the past 7 years working in communities that have high levels of environmental pollution I have witnessed this injustice. One can go down three to four blocks out of Paterson or Newark into a suburban/upper class neighborhood and witness a total 360 in quality of life. Why is that? I chose this class as my first graduate course because I want to play a role in finding the solutions to the problems these communities face.

Final Report:


It was May 2021, and I was refereeing a soccer game between Ironbound Soccer Club and a team from South Jersey at Riverfront Park in the Ironbound section of Newark. The home team Ironbound SC made up of 13 year old boys of multi ethnic backgrounds were ready to play. As an assistant referee on the side line I had the role of monitoring the ball going out of the field of play and players going offsides. At the start of the whistle as the game commenced, a jet flew over so close that you can see the United Airlines logo on the tail. Preparing to land at Newark International Airport, with its roaring engines that ate up the noise from the traffic on Raymond Boulevard. Less than a minute later another plane flew over. Five minutes into the game about ten planes had flown over Riverfront Park to land at the airport. Throughout the whole game I wondered how the residents live with all this noise from the planes flying over their homes. I do not remember the end results of the game but the roar of the jets flying over was forever ingrained in my memory. 

The location you live determines the amount of noise you will have. We all hear the noise of planes flying over us each day. For some the noise is minimal if the plane is flying at a high altitude. But if you live within the vicinity of an airport such as the Ironbound you will be hearing the roaring engines of jets everyday. Even on a day filled with competitive soccer one must deal with the annoyance of the planes flying over to land passengers coming back from a tropical vacation, family or business trip. Landing over rows of homes at the expense of the individuals that reside there, disturbing their peace. That day the community I served in the game did not consist of the upper class in the United States but more of the blue collar and immigrant class. 

While driving home from the game my mind was raising a few questions. Why is this happening to this community? How has this noise affected local residents both physically and emotionally? Why hasn’t the local, state and federal government done something to stop the aircraft noise in the community? Do the locals have anyone advocating on their behalf? 

 Scholars who study environmental injustices have analyzed questions similar to those raised by the jets flying over the Ironbound neighborhood of Newark. When it comes to pollution, scholars tend to focus on pollution arriving after the residents have settled on the site. Susan Cutter raised a few questions on pollution that challenge that of scholars in her work, “Which came first? Were the LULUs (locally undesirable land uses) or sources of environmental threats sited in communities because they were poor? or , were the LULUs originally placed in communities with little reference to race or economic status and over time. The racial composition of the area changed as a result of white flight?” 1 One would say it’s not racist since they already knew what was there when they moved in. Social scientist Laura Pulido does not dispute the accuracy of a polluted zone being placed in a location and the racial make up change over time. As Laura Pulido has written, “Rather its underlying conception of racism and the absence within the larger literature of alternative explanations. This scenario is predicated on understanding racism as a discrete and hostile act.” 2 In the case of the Ironbound community the airport was already there before the current demographic make up. That does not mean they should suffer from the injustice of planes flying over causing a disruption to their life each day and night. Is the airport taking advantage of the fact the community may not be fluent in the English language? Noise as a form of pollution rarely is thought of as one. Scholars tend to focus on toxic waste or smog in relation to environmental injustice, which is vital. Little research has been done in relation to noise as a form of pollution. In this case noise can cause serious harm to a community if nothing is done about it. 

This essay will add to the literature on pollution by analyzing aircraft noise in the Ironbound community of Newark. It will be divided into three sections. The first section will be covering the physical and psychological effects the community has suffered due to aircraft noise. Issues such as sleep disturbance, anxiety, and hearing impairments, if left unsolved will create long term problems for the locals. The second section will focus on the role the federal and local government has played in combating noise pollution. Federal and local government has failed in creating the proper legislation to protect the community. Laws passed to only be defunded to support a political agenda at the expense of the people. The final section will cover the rise of local grassroots organizations; the tactics they used to raise awareness and combat aircraft noise pollution.  Grassroots organizations became a voice for the voiceless, exposing the issue through the creation of a local newsletter, and  using local media organizations to promote their own scientific studies on aircraft noise. Ironbound residents of Newark physical and psychological health are negatively impacted due to aircraft noise because of a lack of government oversight on noise pollution from Newark International Airport. Giving rise to grassroots organizations to advocate for minority working class residents of the Ironbound. I think back to the sunny day on the soccer field watching five planes fly over in a span of 40 seconds and tell myself this is wrong and something must be done. 

History of pollutants in the Ironbound, Newark Airport & Noise as a pollutant 

The Ironbound is a neighborhood located in Newark, New Jersey. Approximately 10 miles from Newark Liberty International Airport, the port of Newark, and Newark Penn Station  it is in the cross hairs of some of the nation’s largest transportation hubs. Known for its vibrant Spanish and Portuguese restaurants along with a love for the game of soccer, the Ironbound has an amazing history. Local residents are part of a multi ethnic community consisting of working class Hispanic and Portuguese immigrants. With a total population of 51,097 people, 53.3% are hispanic/Latino and 34.7 are white alone(representing the Portuguese population). The median household income for the Ironbound residents is $45,222  the average resident is above the poverty threshold of $31, 661 by $13,561.3

The Ironbound of Newark has an unfortunate history of pollution. Its vicinity to Newark Airport exposes it to smog from flights coming in and out, along with the excessive noise being produced by the planes. Trucks delivering product from the port of Newark, which is adjacent to the airport, drive through the Ironbound to reach their designated destinations. A garbage incinerator and the Passaic Waste Sewage plant are also located within a mile of where the residents are located. That’s only to name a few of the many chemical and industrial facilities located nearby affecting one group of people. 4 

Newark Liberty Airport was originally constructed in 1928 on 68 acres of marsh land. By the end of World War II it was the busiest commercial airport in the nation. In 1948 the Port Authority took over operations of the airport and began making improvements to its infrastructure. Since then new terminals, maintenance facilities and an airtrain were added to accommodate the growing number of passengers each year. 5 Today Newark Airport is thriving; it’s a hub for United Airlines, serving more than 46 million passengers in 2019 and supporting 74,000 jobs that contribute to $4.9 billion in annual wages. 6 The airport is a major source of revenue to the city of Newark,  making it vital to many residents to the community that use it as a source of income, whether it be directly employed or indirectly through NJ Transit or Uber to name a few.   

The growth of the airport has been an economic benefit for the city of Newark but has been a burden of noise to the Ironbound. Noise is an unwanted sound that can cause disturbance or distress to someone. It can be a form of pollution when it causes an excessive level of disturbance that can have harmful effects on humans. Noise measured in decibels(db) is based on the intensity of the sound. Meaning a sound at 20 dB is 10 times more intense than a sound at 10dB. To measure loudness, sound must be increased by 10dB to be perceived as twice as loud.7 The World Health Organization recommends maintaining Environmental noise below 70 dB. Noise levels over 70 dB can cause harm if done over a prolonged period of time.8

In relation to the Ironbound, aircraft noise is a major source of noise pollution but we must also recognize other sources of noise in Newark such as car traffic and trains when it comes to this issue. Noise from car traffic varies pending the size of the engine and traffic noise is a problem most cities face. Even though railroads provide a great alternative for mass transit the sounds of trains from New Jersey Transit can be an issue to locals within the vicinity of the station. We often do not realize the noise we are exposed to because we have become accustomed to these sounds.On the other we must recognize certain communities are hit with the everyday burden of noise pollution.  

The Ironbound’s geographic location makes it a hotbed for aircraft noise. As seen on the map below, Newark is one of the worst places for noise pollution in the state of New Jersey. Noise exposure levels streak over Newark Airport’s runway and go over directly into the Ironbound.9 Aircraft traffic coming to and from the airport makes the community a direct overhead landing zone for commercial and industrial jets This is nothing new, the airport has been around for almost 100 years. Just imagine the generations of people deeply affected by this noise when planes initially started becoming a form of transportation.

Health Impact of Noise pollution in the Ironbound

Noise pollution from aircrafts is a threat to the health and well being of Ironbound residents. It can cause severe health problems such as sleep disturbance, hearing impairment, cardiovascular disturbances and many psychological problems. In the case of sleep disturbance, having planes constantly fly over the homes of local residents when they take off or land every ten to fifteen minutes causes sleep disruption. Sleep is essential for humans in order to function properly throughout the day. When sleep disturbance becomes chronic it can affect brain restoration, daytime functioning, adverse effects on mood the next day and cognitive performance.10

The majority of Ironbound residents are blue collar workers that need a sufficient amount of sleep in order to perform the job properly. Decreased alertness leads to accidents, injuries and death has also been attributed to lack of sleep and disrupted circadian rhythms.11 If one is required to work heavy machinery and has not received a significant amount of sleep it can pose a great danger to their own well being but also risk of employment if performance is not up to par. A study conducted on the Ironbound community found many residents with a heightened level of anxiety. One participant said “Noise pollution, air pollution, shakes the house and wakes me up when I’m trying to sleep” 12

If one’s sleep is being distrubed over a period of time it can lead an individual to use prescribed or over the counter sleep medication. A study conducted by National Institute of Public Health and the Environment in the Netherlands on a community that was within 25 km of Schiphol Airport found the use of non-prescribed sleep medication was associated with aircraft exposures during the late evening. And the health complaints associated with the use of self-prescribed medication was tiredness and headaches. They also found the use of prescribed sleep medication to be associated with aircraft noise. What stood out the most was the increased tendency to use non-prescribed medication due to the fact many people may not visit their doctor for aircraft noise related problems. Or the possibility of being prescribed sleep medication for noise complaints from airplanes may not be sufficient enough to receive prescribed medication, thus leading one to purchase over the counter.13 This can mask the effects of aircraft noise on a vulnerable population such as the Ironbound. Which can be a big contributor as to why studies on the effects of aircraft noise pollution are not true representation of a total population. 

Noise pollution not only affects sleeping but also the cardiovascular system.. Noise acts as a non-specific biological stressor eliciting reactions that prepare the body for a “Fight or flight” response. It can be seen with long term exposure to noise levels above 65dB leading to temporary increases in blood pressure and heart rate. 14 Even if the risk is minimal, the fact it is impacting a large population presents this as a public health issue. The Ironbound community is at a much higher risk of cardiovascular complication than other communities that do not deal with aircraft noise. Increased nighttime noise is associated with an increase in blood pressure.15 Residents over the age of 62 represent 11.8% of the population in the Ironbound. Cardiovascular disease increases because of aircraft noise putting this population at risk for their health. The risk to their cardiovascular health can be detrimental to the family structure of the community. 

Noise pollution is not often perceived to be a mental health issue but it can cause disturbances to one psychologically. Living in a community that is exposed to massive amounts of pollution can cause anxiety. In the survey conducted by Gabriella Dory, a participant from the Ironbound said, “the noise. It bothers me a lot. And parents in the Ironbound “worried” about the health impact from noise on their children. 16 Anxiety can cause major disruptions to an individual’s lifestyle. Being a parent involves a lot of anxiety already into today’s world but adding noise pollution to the list makes it even more challenging. How is a parent going to sleep at night with the thought of their child’s health being affected by planes flying overhead?

Noise annoyance in this case can lead to a heightened level of anxiety. Annoyance can be a result of disturbance in sleep, interruptions in daily activities, and lack of concern by local government officials to name a few. It may be accompanied by a negative emotional response such as distress, exhaustion, wish to escape the noise and other stress related symptoms.17 In a study conducted in Germany on individuals living in the vicinity of Frankfurt Airport found aircraft noise during the day and night was significantly associated with anxiolytics(Class of medication used to treat anxiety). The increase of antidepressants was also noted with aircraft noise at night also. 18 The Ironbound already faces many challenges, adding anxiety and depression caused by annoyance will only make things worse for the community. 

One group in the community that can be particularly impacted by noise pollution are children. Children are the most vulnerable groups since they are still at the developing stage in life. When it comes to academic performance children living near airports are at a disadvantage. Exposure to aircraft noise has been related to impairments of children’s cognition in terms of reading comprehension and long term memory. Tasks involving reading, attention, problem solving and memory were most affected by exposure to noise. Airplanes flying over can be unpredictable during the school day and can create a distraction for students during lessons. 19

When compared to other school districts that are farther away from the airport, children in the Ironbound are at a disadvantage in the classroom from the moment they first step inside the classroom. A 2005 study found kids living near airports in Britain, Holland and Spain lagged behind their classmates in reading by two months for every five decibel increase above noise levels. 20 Reading is a central part of learning, students in the Ironbound are at a disadvantage when it comes to learning, standardized tests and applying to college. One must understand your location does determine the quality of education you will receive based on the environment of the school. Ironbound children are being punished in academic and cognitive development because they live within the direct flight path of planes coming in and out of Newark Airport. This is an atrocity because nothing has been done about it. And if there was a form of legislation created little to no impact was made upon its passing.  

Government legislation relating to aircraft noise

Government regulation on noise dates back to the age of the Romans when chariot races were banned at night.21 Over time humans innovated new forms of technology to make life simple and efficient. But new technology also brings on burdens. The airplane not only revolutionized transportation but also created a new industry that created billions of jobs over time across the globe. With its growth over time the airline industry proved to be a reliable form of transport for passengers, cargo and the military. By 1972 it grew to accommodate 190 million passengers and 152 billion revenue miles. This was a result of commercial jets expansion and the construction and expansion of new airports; which had reached 500 terminals by 1972. 22 Unfortunately the growth of an industry brought a burden of noise to communities across the United States which magnified the issue of noise on a national level; forcing the federal government to create policy to regulate these noises. 

The federal government began studying airplane noise pollution in 1970, when the Environmental Protection Agency, through the Clean Air Act established the Office of Noise Abatement and Control. Previously noise control was handled by state and local governments; the primary purpose of the ONAC was to study noise and its effects on public health and welfare.   23 The information gathered by the ONAC led to Congress passing the Noise Control Act of 1972. The act recognized noise as a growing danger to the health and well being to the nation’s population, particularly in urban communities. It also recognized the primary drivers for noise such as motor vehicles, planes and machinery. 24 With the growing concern of noise from aircrafts, the act established federal research on noise pollution and created noise control solutions. Communities that were sidestepped by their local and state governments now had support from Washington.

By 1978, enough research had been conducted that led to the Quiet Communities Act. The act contained amendments to the Noise Control Act of 1972 and a requirement to study airport noise. The Secretary of Transportation and administrator of the EPA were to study the effects of aircraft noise on communities that are located in a state other than the state in which the airport is located. The airport must be within one mile of the state boundary. 25 At this point in time, Jimmy Carter was President of the United States and an avid supporter of environmental policies. This endorsement and the Quiet Communities Act allowed the EPA and gave the ONAC the green light to conduct research on noise pollution and offer assistance to state and local governments. The ONAC proposed aircraft noise regulations to the FAAA, established a National Information Center for Quiet, which distributed educational material to schools, families and businesses. Even with criticism of being slow to take action in certain areas, the office seemed to be going in the right direction. 26 

In 1979 the Ironbound neighborhood played a significant role in federal developments around airport noise when hearings were conducted by the subcommittee on interstate and foreign commerce in the House of Representatives; on a proposed bill: the Aviation Safety and Noise Reduction Act. The act would allow the Secretary of Transportation to develop a single system of measuring noise and the impact on individuals nearby airports. Airport operators would be allowed to submit noise impact maps to the Secretary. 27 At this point in time the Ironbound community turned to local politicians to voice their annoyance and frustration with the noise. Essex County Freeholder Angelo Cifelli Jr was brought in as a witness to the hearing before Congress on the topic of noise pollution in the Ironbound. He used this opportunity to discuss the impact continued aircraft noise will have on the Ironbound, by describing to members of Congress how certain sections of the community are situated on the direct flight path of landing flights to Newark. 

The strongest technique Mr. Cifelli used to get support for the bill and a solution to noise pollution was to mention the economic impact continued noise from airplanes would have on the Ironbound, what’s important is that health was not an issue. They framed it as an economic issue, which would not help the Ironbound residents. The forced emigration from the Ironbound would have devastating consequences on the local economy. As quoted “Ironbound is an area, constitutes a situation in which we are paying 47% of the taxes the city if Newark is collecting”.28 In 1979 the United States was going through an energy crisis and a period of stagflation. The economy was not healthy,if nothing was going to be done to mitigate noise pollution on the Ironbound the economic consequences would be a disaster. “If the people start leaving the Ironbound section, the businesses and we are made up of small businesses will have to follow their exodus.” 29 By framing this as an economic problem it creates the issue of money versus public health, which of the two is more important to the federal government. The government took the issue of noise seriously once the state of the economy was in potential danger. The public health and safety of Ironbound residents took a backseat and was never a major concern to Congress unless economic misery was on the horizon. Politicians tend to stay in power if the economy is going well. Unfortunately the bill never came fruition and in 1980 with the United States in economic turmoil President Jimmy Carter was voted out of office in favor of Ronald Reagan. 

Unfortunately for Ironbound residents, the Reagan Presidency’s embrace of deregulation resulted in the closure of the Office of Noise Abatement and Control. Funding to the office in 1982 went from $13 million to $2.2 million, with no funding after. 30 The era of deregulation forced the movement against noise pollution to be localized. Through a grassroots effort or local politicians such as Mr. Cifelli to head to Congress and plead for the people.

By 1990 Congress was once again looking back at the issue of noise pollution in a hearing regarding policy from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The purpose of this meeting was for a review on FAA policy. Politicians such as Rep. Donald Payne spoke to congress in an effort to get their attention to noise pollution, specifically aircraft noise. Mr. Payne urged Congress to formulate a national policy on aircraft noise citing the harmful effects his congressional district (Newark) receives from Newark Airport, ensuring that no region is unfairly impacted by high noise levels. 31 By creating a federal policy on noise all communities will be protected especially the working class minority commutes. The phasing out of stage 2 aircraft across the country will prove to be beneficial for the Ironbound. Mr. Payne voiced his support to phase out stage 2 aircrafts which are noisier and less safe than stage 3. A comparison between Newark, Los Angeles and San Francisco32 Airports showed both west coast cities received  61% of their flights were stage 3 aircrafts. While Newark only had 36%. The comparison of the three communities brings up a question such as why are the west coast cities both hubs for transportation utilizing more stage 3 planes than Newark? This should be seen as an indictment on New Jersey politics since noise policy was handled through local politicians. Or was this because local residents of Los Angeles and San Fransisco came together for a united cause? Either way the fight for a change was not just combated by the politicians; members of the community were finally fed up and decided to fight back. 

Grassroots Campaigns

The battle between aircraft noise pollution from the airport and local residents of the Ironbound dates back to 1978. When a grassroots organization called the Ironbound Community Health Project reached a deal with the Federal Aviation Administration to instruct all flights on nice weather days to fly six miles east of the Ironbound.33 A form of progress at the time many would agree it was a step in the right direction. However, as Ironbound Health Project Coordinator Arnold Cohen explained in 1979, “The experimental ruling came as a result of the project’s pressure on airport officials.” 34 Residents up to this point were becoming frustrated with the lack of intervention in solving aircraft noise over their neighborhood. Residents of the Ironbound have been quoted saying they are frustrated with what is going on in their community. In a survey on local Ironbound residents, participants expressed excessive frustration evoked by the “lack of laws, regulations, and policy enforcement” that “help to improve our community.” ” 35 Without local organization, the Port Authority of New Jersey(Operators of Newark Airport) would continue to take advantage of the residents and no accountability would be held against them. It is here where the battle against noise pollution between the Ironbound and Newark Airport begins. 

The Ironbound Community Corporation ran a series of campaigns to raise awareness on the issue of aircraft noise; with the goal to reroute the jets away from the Ironbound. They spoke on behalf of a population that is 53.3% Hispanics/Latino and 34.7% white,with a median household income of $45,222. 36 They utilized a variety of tactics to raise awareness such as a local newsletter, local experiments, and letters to the Newark Star ledger to be published in the paper. These tactics shook the state and brought everyone’s attention to the Ironbound.

Media as a weapon against noise pollution proved to be the ICC’s strongest tool in the battle. The creation of Ironbound Voices, a local newsletter for residents that was published in English, Spanish, and Portuguese provided valuable information to all members of the community. Ironbound Voices became the voice of the Ironbound relaying information on rally’s and updates by the Airplane committee to ensure everyone is notified. An article published in 1981 headlined “Airport’s Winter Survey Won’t Tell The Truth” mentions airport officials will have planes follow over the Pulaski Skyway starting Dec 25. Airport officials will conduct a survey asking Ironbound residents if the new landing approach is working.37 The route change will be conducted during the winter, when most residents are indoors with their windows closed. The article provided key information to local residents to prepare for the survey and let the officials know they are in the wrong with the survey. It even went on to reveal a meeting by the Meadows Approach Advisory Committee to discuss the Ironbound airplane problem. Not a single Ironbound resident will be present during the meeting(aside from the councilman) and it will be conducted during the day when members of the ICC are working as the majority of residents. 38

The strength of Ironbound Voices is the fact it is distributed in three different languages that reflect the community. It allows the Portuguese immigrant worker to be aware of the Meadows Approach Advisory Committee meeting and the airport survey; which can influece them to become involved in the movement. Now while Ironbound Voices keeps the local community informed, it is also important to get support from members outside the community. To do this the ICC turned to local news organizations to publish their fight.  

The Newark Star Ledger, a prominent local newspaper, became the voice of the Ironbound for the state of New Jersey. Articles on the issue of aircraft noise pollution would be published along with letters to the editor by ICC members. An article published in 1979 spoke of Ironbound residents on a picket line at Newark Airport demanding the low flying planes be re-routed away from their neighborhood. A 60 year old man Anthony Soltys explained the impact aircraft noise had on him; “It’s so bad. I can’t explain it. The planes come over the house all day and night sometimes every two or three minutes. Another resident, Anna Kazmeirczyk, 72, said “You think the plane’s going to come through your roof. It’s hell on earth.” 39 Personal accounts from elderly residents such as these reel in readers across the state to sympathize for Ironbound residents. Readers that have older family members or neighbors will develop an emotional connection that will touch their heart and feel saddened about what is happening.

The goal of these news reports is to get the reader outside of Newark to be aware of the issue of aircraft noise but to also inform others of it. In 1979 the dinner table, employee lounge or classroom were some of the town squares for discourse on issues reported in the media. Getting New Jersey residents from all corners of the state aware of aircraft noise pollution brings in a new coalition of potential advocates, who can contribute to the movement immensely through promotion campaigns and fundraisers that will cover the whole state of New Jersey. Articles by reporters of the Star Ledger were proven to be effective but letters to the editor proved to be powerful also. 

Published letters to the editor by prominent leaders of the ICC were key to combating aircraft noise pollution and reaching the goal of a solution. Voices of the movement such as Frank Pleva on November 4, 1985, started his letter off by stating “They should rename Newark Airport. “Ironbound Memorial Airport” in memory of the thousands of people who have had their lives tortured by airplane noise.” 40 That line alone signifies the harmful impact airplane noise is having on the local residents. By using the word “tortured” Frank Pleva was striving to get the reader to relate to what residents of the Ironbound were going through. An individual from Sussex County, New Jersey may not be impacted by aircraft noise but the word torture one  can visualize what the Ironbound is going through based on descriptions in the letter. The letter discussed the potential danger of airplane accidents over homes and a lack of air traffic controllers as a result of President Reagan firing air traffic control strikers proved to be detrimental for the Ironbound 41 The use of media whether it be community based or regional was an effective weapon in the fight against airport officials over aircraft noise. What seemed to be a localized issue now grew to the whole state, during a time when noise pollution on the national level was dormant. While media was the ICCs strongest asset, local experiments documenting flight patterns provided hard evidence in the court of public opinion. 

During the bout between Newark Airport officials and the Ironbound in the 1980s studies were conducted to determine where planes should fly over when departing and arriving. All of those studies were conducted by airport officials, without any input by advocates of the Ironbound. Leading to a distrust between locals and airport officials; how is a community that has been stepped on for so long going to trust these tests. The Airplane Committee of the ICC urged residents to conduct their own studies on aircraft noise by counting the number of planes flying over their homes. Residents filled out forms to count the planes that flew over and at what time specifically. The form below informs us that between 4:30 pm to 9:30 pm on June 22, 1980, ten planes flew over the Ironbound when the weather was beautfiul. The most striking piece of information came during the time from 9:10 to 9:30 pm when planes flew over in a span of 5 minutes between each flight. 42 Data collected by local residents will prove to be more trustworthy for the community that already has a lack of trust by airport officials due to broken promises to reroute the planes. Residents that had long complained about planes disturbing their peace at night now have the proof to show for it. Newly found data by residents can be used to compare with government officials data to see who is telling the truth. These statistics can be published state wide to inform everyone of the injustice residents are enduring in their own homes. 

The most revealing piece of data about the flight patterns gathered by Ironbound were the number of planes flying in the 9 o’clock hour at night. The impact of aircraft noise at night can have working class adults that need a night sleep but most importantly children.

During rally’s the ICC would also take photographs of protestors being engaged and publish them for the world to see. One photograph of a father and son stood out the most (see below). The sign “Save our hearing. Save our health. Reroute the planes now!” being held by a boy represents the impact noise pollution is having on the youth of the Ironbound. Hoping that residents of New Jersey will be supportive of the campaign when it’s a health issue affecting kids. Society tends to pay more attention to child health issues more than adults. 43 The use of children was a strong tactic to bring awareness to noise pollution because it hooked the average person to pay attention to the broader issue which was noise pollution in the Ironbound community. Publishing the late night flight data, connecting the effects of noise on children and publishing a photograph of a concerned father with his son at a rally is influential. Once children are involved, airport officials become public enemy number one. This is a critical move the ICC had to make by incorporating media, data and one demographic that can touch the hearts of many; they gained massive support for their cause. 


Each time I hear a jet fly over my first thoughts trace back to the day at Riverfront Park for the Ironbound Soccer Club game. To this day jets still fly over in the same three to five minute intervals with the landing gear opening and the roaring engines releasing its energy over the homes of innocent working class residents. A community that continues to be stepped over in favor of affluent communities; when they voice their concerns on noise government officials are quick to meet their demands. As Arnold Cohen mentioned in his letter to the editor of the Star Ledger “The New Jersey Legislature have all found the noise at Newark Airport nothing to get upset about-until the well-to-do are being affected. If the people of these suburban and rural areas want to know what airplane noise is really like, I invite them to come to the Ironbound.” 44 A direct shot at government legislatures failing to pass comprehensive legislation to mitigate noise pollution for vulnerable communities such as the Ironbound. Residents endured the noise at the expense of their health, lost in a world of agony with no hope for what lays ahead. However, even when the odds were against them, individuals such as Arnold Cohen of the Ironbound Community Corporation organized and brought the community together through rally’s and the creation of a local newsletter that became the voice of the people who were unheard. The battle between the Ironbound and Newark Airport would become the ground breaking event that revealed to the world the issue of aircraft noise pollution; an issue many never knew existed. 

The Ironbound, a community made of working class residents making an honest living, felt the harmful effects of aircraft noise pollution. At the expense of government failure to pass legislation to mitigate or reroute the planes from the community, along with an era of deregulation which lead to the closing of the Office of Noise Abatement and Control. An office whose sole purpose was to gather data and use it to create a plan to regulate noise which was a growing concern since the early 1970s. Residents had to endure the effects of aircraft noise on their health such as hearing, sleep impairments and cardiovascular disease. Parents dealt with heightened levels of anxiety over concerns for their children’s health and educational outcomes. When it came to the children of the Ironbound and the correlation to noise pollution, they represent an alarming statistic of students attending “highly exposed” public schools for aviation noise were more likely to be hispanic or black and be eligible for free/reduced lunch. 45 A statistic that says these kids mean nothing to the government as long as they are part of working class minority families. Children already at an economic disadvantage the effects of aircraft noise would hinder their education outcome and future.But the rise of the Ironbound Community corporation brought a community together to actively participate in a long campaign against Newark Airport and the bureaucrats that were given the job to stop noise pollution. When a community is suffering from an ignored injustice they must take the batton and reach the finish line to ensure everyone is protected. 

Noise pollution seldomly gets the attention it needs in the Environmental Justice community. Scholars continue to sidestep over the issue in favor of other environmental problems facing society. My research lays the foundation for scholars in the future to look into the health implications of a growing threat among us. The Romans created some of the earliest forms of noise control for chariots being driven at night, in order to alleviate sleep disturbance and annoyance to its citizens, with an understanding of the negative impact it will have on their society. Scholars must also look into government policies that have hindered the growth in a positive outcome to noise along the reasons why this has happened. As long as we continue to allow the profits over the health and sanity of communities suffering from aircraft noise; the plague will seep through all corners of the United States searching for its next victim. 

My research addresses key issues that must be investigated in finding an answer to noise pollution. We must first look at why low working minority class communities tend to be largely impacted by aircraft noise and why this is happening. Until we create a solution these communities will continue to suffer as long as airline CEOs and airport officials continue to make a huge profit. Next we must recognize the hazardous health consequences it can have if left unknown will create a blackhole for communities such as the Ironbound. Finally we must begin to hold government officials accountable for their lack of action. From the local level all the way to the federal level; public officials must be held liable for their government policies that have gutted out programs to study noise and allowed aircrafts to continue to fly over the homes of residents at the expense of the community’s health. A strong grassroot effort exactly how the Ironbound Community Corporation stood up to Newark airport officials is needed in order to rally citizens together to hold government officials accountable for their actions. Accountability starts by pressuring these officials into meeting the demands of the people being impacted by noise; next in the the voting booth if officials still have done nothing, We must continue this until a proper solution that everyone benefits from is created. I bring up the same questions Arnold Cohen of the Ironbound Community Health Project mentioned in the Newark Star Ledger “Who will help the people who are suffering and losing their lives to airplane noise daily? Will the people of the Ironbound and the other communities surrounding the airport have to go on suffering?” 46


  1. Susan L. Cutter and John Tiefenbacher, “Chemical Hazards in Urban America,” Urban Geography 12, no. 5 (1991): pp. 417-430, This source was used by Laura Pulido in her article Rethinking Environmental Racism: White privilege and Urban Development in Southern California. It can be found on page 541
  2. Laura Pulido, “Rethinking Environmental Racism: White Privilege and Urban Development in Southern California,” Annals of the Association of American Geographers 90, no. 1 (2000): pp. 532-565,
  3. U.S. Census Bureau, “INCOME IN THE PAST 12 MONTHS (IN 2020 INFLATION-ADJUSTED DOLLARS,” Explore census data, accessed May 4, 2022,
  4. The Sacrifice Zone, N.d., Accessed April 16, 2022., Rutgers Library (Talking Eyes Media, n.d.),
  5. “History of Newark Liberty International Airport,” History – About the Airport – Newark Liberty International Airport – Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, accessed April 16, 2022,
  6. “2020 Annual Airport Traffic Report,” Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Airport Traffic Statistics, accessed April 16, 2022,
  7. “What Noises Cause Hearing Loss?,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, October 7, 2019),
  8. “What Noises Cause Hearing Loss?,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, October 7, 2019),
  9. Erin Petenko | NJ Advance Media for, “The 7 Areas with the Worst Noise Pollution in N.J.,”, March 30, 2017,
  10. Willy Passchier-Vermeer and Wim F. Passchier, “Noise Exposure and Public Health,” Environmental Health Perspectives108 (March 2000): pp. 123-131,
  11. Lisa Goines and Louis Hagler, “Noise Pollution: A Modern Plague,” Southern Medical Journal 100, no. 3 (March 2007): pp. 287-294,
  12. Gabriela Dory et al., “A Phenomenological Understanding of Residents’ Emotional Distress of Living in an Environmental Justice Community,” International Journal of Qualitative Studies on Health and Well-Being 12, no. 1 (2017),
  13. E A Franssen, “Aircraft Noise around a Large International Airport and Its Impact on General Health and Medication Use,” Occupational and Environmental Medicine 61, no. 5 (January 2004): pp. 405-413,
  14. Lisa Goines and Louis Hagler, “Noise Pollution: A Modern Plague,” Southern Medical Journal 100, no. 3 (March 2007): pp. 287-294,
  15. Thomas Münzel et al., “Environmental Noise and the Cardiovascular System,” Journal of the American College of Cardiology 71, no. 6 (2018): pp. 688-697,
  16. Gabriela Dory et al., “A Phenomenological Understanding of Residents’ Emotional Distress of Living in an Environmental Justice Community,” International Journal of Qualitative Studies on Health and Well-Being 12, no. 1 (2017),
  17. M.E. Beutel et al., “Noise Annoyance Is Associated with Depression and Anxiety in the General Population- the Contribution of Aircraft Noise,” Journal of Psychosomatic Research 85 (2016),
  18. M.E. Beutel et al., “Noise Annoyance Is Associated with Depression and Anxiety in the General Population- the Contribution of Aircraft Noise,” Journal of Psychosomatic Research 85 (2016),
  19. SA Stansfeld et al., “Aircraft and Road Traffic Noise and Children’s Cognition and Health: A Cross-National Study,” The Lancet 365, no. 9475 (2005): pp. 1942-1949,
  20. GN Lucas, “Noise Pollution and Children,” Sri Lanka Journal of Child Health 37, no. 1 (2008): p. 1,
  21.   Patrick F. Cunniff, Environmental Noise Pollution (New York: Wiley, 1977).  
  22. Patrick F. Cunniff, Environmental Noise Pollution (New York: Wiley, 1977). 
  23. “Clean Air Act Title IV – Noise Pollution,” EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), accessed April 19, 2022,
  24. Congress. “Noise Control Act of 1972”. Government. U.S. Government Publishing Office, November 14, 2021.
  25. Congress, “The Noise Control Act of 1972 as Amended by the Quiet Communities Act of 1978.,” HathiTrust, accessed April 19, 2022,
  26. Shapiro, Sidney A. “Rejoining the Battle Against Noise Pollution.” Issues in Science and Technology 9, no. 3 (1993): 73–79.  
  27. “H.R.3942 – 96th Congress (1979-1980): Aviation Safety and Noise Reduction Act.” July 13, 1979.
  28. Aviation Safety and Noise Reduction Act of 1979: Hearings before the Subcommittee on Transportation and Commerce of the Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce, House of Representatives, Ninety-Sixth Congress, First Session, on H.R. 3942 … June 7, 12, and 27, 1979 (Washington: U.S. G.P.O., 1979),
  29. Aviation Safety and Noise Reduction Act of 1979: Hearings before the Subcommittee on Transportation and Commerce of the Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce, House of Representatives, Ninety-Sixth Congress, First Session, on H.R. 3942 … June 7, 12, and 27, 1979 (Washington: U.S. G.P.O., 1979),   
  30. Shapiro, Sidney A. “Rejoining the Battle Against Noise Pollution.” Issues in Science and Technology 9, no. 3 (1993): 73–79.   
  31. Federal Aviation Noise Policy : Hearings before the Subcommittee on Aviation of the Committee on Public Works and Transportation, House of Representatives, One Hundred First Congress, Second Session, September 25, 27; October 2, 4, 1990. Washington: U.S. G.P.O., 1991.
  32. Federal Aviation Noise Policy : Hearings before the Subcommittee on Aviation of the Committee on Public Works and Transportation, House of Representatives, One Hundred First Congress, Second Session, September 25, 27; October 2, 4, 1990. Washington: U.S. G.P.O., 1991.
  33. Norman Buchanan, “Airport Noise ‘Monitors’: Ironbound Group to Check Rerouting Test,” (Newark Star Ledger, July 6, 1979),
  34.   Norman Buchanan, “Airport Noise ‘Monitors’: Ironbound Group to Check Rerouting Test,” (Newark Star Ledger, July 6, 1979),
  35. Gabriela Dory et al., “A Phenomenological Understanding of Residents’ Emotional Distress of Living in an Environmental Justice Community,” International Journal of Qualitative Studies on Health and Well-Being 12, no. 1 (2017),
  36. “INCOME IN THE PAST 12 MONTHS (IN 2020 INFLATION-ADJUSTED DOLLARS).” Explore census data, 2020. The white population is used to represent the notable Portuguese population of the Ironbound
  37. “Airport’s Winter Survey Won’t Tell The Truth,” Ironbound Voices | Newark Public Library Digital Repository (Ironbound Voices), accessed May 2, 2022,  
  38. “Airport’s Winter Survey Won’t Tell The Truth,” Ironbound Voices | Newark Public Library Digital Repository (Ironbound Voices), accessed May 2, 2022,  
  39. Mark Boada , “Ironbound Rally Protests Plane Noise ,” Newsbank (Newark Star Ledger, September 17, 1979),
  40. Frank Pleva, “Making Noise ,” Newsbank (Newark Star Ledger , November 4, 1985),
  41. Frank Pleva, “Making Noise ,” Newsbank (Newark Star Ledger , November 4, 1985),  
  42. “Counting Airplanes,” Counting Airplanes | Newark Public Library Digital Repository, accessed May 3, 2022,
  43. “Photos: Airplane Noise,” Photos: Airplane Noise | Newark Public Library Digital Repository, 1979,
  44. Arnold Cohen , “Ironbound’s Futility over Airplane Noise ,” (Newark Star Ledger), accessed May 4, 2022,
  45. Timothy W. Collins, Sara E. Grineski, and Shawna Nadybal, “Social Disparities in Exposure to Noise at Public Schools in the Contiguous United States,” Environmental Research 175 (2019): pp. 257-265,

46.  Arnold Cohen , “Ironbound’s Futility over Airplane Noise ,” (Newark Star Ledger), accessed May 4, 2022,


  • Stansfeld, SA, B Berglund, C Clark, I Lopez-Barrio, P Fischer, E Öhrström, MM Haines, et al. “Aircraft and Road Traffic Noise and Children’s Cognition and Health: A Cross-National Study.” The Lancet 365, no. 9475 (2005): 1942–49.

“What Noises Cause Hearing Loss?” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, October 7, 2019.

Primary Sources:

  1. Title:Aviation safety and noise reduction act of 1979: hearings before the Subcommittee on Transportation and Commerce of the Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce, House of Representatives, Ninety-sixth Congress, first session, on H.R. 3942 … June 7, 12, and 27, 1979

Location: Google Books 

Description: A hearing before the subcommittee on transportation and commerce HR392 Operate assistance to airport operators to prepare carry out noise compatibility programs to provide assistance to assure continued safely in aviation and for other purposes. Features a statement by Angello Cifelli Jr. Freeholder of Essex County New Jersey 


  1. Title: Photo of a protest by the Ironbound Community Corp in the earliest campaigns in 1979

Location: Newark Public Library Digital Repository: Charles F. Cummings New Jersey Information Center 

Description: Early organization campaign by the Ironbound Community Corporation. Features picketing at Newark Liberty International Airport and in the local Ironbound community. 


  1. Title: Airport Winter Survey won’t tell the Truth 

Location: Newark Public Library Digital Repository: Charles F. Cummings New Jersey Information Center 

Description: Article in the Ironbound Voices newspaper on protests at Newark Airport demanding to have flights routed. Newark Airport apparently changed the routes during the winter when most of the Ironbound community is indoors. 


  1. Title: 7 Areas with the Worst Noise Pollution 


Description: Article lists the 7 areas in New Jersey that have the worst noise pollution. Newark is listed and it features a map describing the strength of the noise. 


  1. Title: How Noise Pollution is ruining your hearing 


Description: Video by Vox Media describes the effects of noise pollution. Video provides basic knowledge on noise pollution for the viewer in order to understand. For example video will inform the viewer the decibel level one should only reach and compare that with the average decibel level of today. 


  1. Title: Ironbound Rally Protests Plan Noise 


Description: Article describes protests at Newark Airport by Ironbound residents. Residents want low flying airplanes to be rerouted away from the neighborhood. Articles discusses the health effects of noise pollution 


Primary Source #1 Analysis 

The source is a statement by Angello Cifelli Jr., Freeholder of Essex County, NJ during the hearings before the Subcommittee on Transportation and Commerce during the Ninety-sixth Congress of the United States.Prior to the statement the Noise Pollution Act of 1972 was passed  to ensure all Americans were free from noises that can damage their personal health. The proposed bill HR 3942 Aviation Safety and Noise Reduction Act of 1979 was to provide assistance to airport operators to prepare and carry out noise compatibility programs. Freeholder Cifelli’s statement before Congress concentrated on the impact of noise pollution on the Ironbound community of Newark. The relationship between the source and my argument is that noise pollution has been an ongoing problem for over 40 years now not just in the Ironbound community of Newark but across the country. The statement by a local politician before Congress is an example of how very little has been done to solve the problem of noise pollution. The bill never made it through committee and three years later President Reagan shut down the Office of Noise Abatement and Control for his deficit reduction plan. The Noise COntrol Act of 1972 was no longer enforced at the federal level. 


The statement by Freeholder Cifelli is a prime example of how noise pollution has been pout to the side for over forty years. Mr. Cifelli an invidual that lives in the community he serves dealt with the issue of noise pollution first hand. He first described the Ironbound community to Congress then brought up  the issue of noise pollution in hopes of gaining their immediate action. He is quoted saying “The Ironbound area of the city of Newark has been recently written up in national magazines and newspapers on account of the fact it is being held up as a model urban neighbor hood. This working-class community has established itself as the focal point of the renaissance that the city of Newark is now undergoing”. Following “My interest in addressing you, therefore, is not only as representative of this community but also as a lifelong resident who is affected significantly by noise pollution. Significant areas of the Ironbound section of Newark are so situated as to be in the flight path of landing aircraft at Newark .Itis runway 22-L.This particular runway handles 41 percent of all landings at the Newark International Airport. It also takes in a significant amount of that 41 percent during the summer months when wind conditions favor the use of this runway”. Mr. Cifelli is providing factual information to congress and even going into detail on how its use increases during the summer months. During the summer months residents are outdoors more and windows are open which causes residents to be exposed more to jet noise. In the state he describe how even local meetings have gotten confrontation between residents of the community and the port authoity that runs the airport. One quote that grabbed my attention was the mention of taxes and a possible exodus of residents. “Now ,if the people start leaving the Ironbound section,the busi nesses- and we are made up of small businesses will have to follow their exodus.That will be a hammerblow to the tax base that is already under constant erosion.I think if you see an exodus here,you will see more and more dependence on Federal funds to go to the city of Newark to make up for the taxes we are losing” Mr. Cifelli’s mention of the economic decay due to resident exodus will have a long lasting effect on the residents. Because if a significant amount of people leave along with their businesses would leave that community in an urban decay not only will they be dealing with constant noise pollution but crime, poverty, and deteriorating infrastructure. Elements that the city of Newark was already dealing with at the time but the Ironbound was one of the few communities staying strong. 

Secondary Sources:

Dory, Gabriela, Zeyuan Qiu, Christina M. Qiu, Mei R. Fu, and Caitlin E. Ryan. “A Phenomenological Understanding of Residents’ Emotional Distress of Living in an Environmental Justice Community.” International Journal of Qualitative Studies on Health and Well-being 12, no. 1 (2017): 1269450.

The secondary source is an academic journal that examines the emotional distress of living in an environmental justice community, which is a different viewpoint on the effects of noise pollution. It specifically did the study on the Ironbound community of Newark also.  The article breaks down how the community sufferers from anxiety, frustration and even anger among the residents. This source will allow me to look at the psychological effects of noise pollution on the that is often overlooked. Even though the article does focus on the Ironbound community which is part of my research paper. The article will assist me in bringing more awareness to noise pollution for all environmental justice communities. 


Ogneva-Himmelberger, Yelena, and Brian Cooperman. “Spatio-Temporal Analysis of Noise Pollution near Boston Logan Airport: Who Carries the Cost?” Urban Studies 47, no. 1 (2009): 169–82.  

The secondary source is an academic journal that focused on two questions. “Does the cost of noise from the airport fall disproportionately on minority and low-income populations?” and “Were there any changes in the socio- demographics of the affected area between 1990 and 2000?”. I will be focusing on on the question that focuses on minority and low-income populations. Even though this study focuses on Boston, Massachusetts. I can utilize the study since it does focus low-income and minority populations. The Ironbound of Newark has a similar demographic, the study will guide me in seeing trends over in Boston Logan Airport and compare those with Newark Liberty International Airport and its effects on the Ironbound. 

Das, Diganta Bhusan, and Ramesha Chandrappa. “Chapter 7 Noise Pollution .” Essay. In Environmental Health – Theory and Practice: Volume 2: Coping with Environmental Health, 141–48. Cham, Switzerland: Springer, 2021.

The secondary source is a chapter from a two volume book that discusses environmental health issues and provides solutions to these problems. The book has a chapter dedicated to noise pollution and ways to mitigate it. Ranging from putting up barriers along highways, legislation, and changes in machinery. This will be useful in my research project because I am exploring ways we can mitigate noise pollution in environmental justice communities. Even though the Ironbound was able to get Newark Liberty International Airport to reroute their planes, the community still suffers from noise pollution from the plans and surrounding factors such as highways traffic and trucks coming thru front he port of Newark. 


Sobotta, Robin R, Heather E Campbell, and Beverly J Owens. “AVIATION NOISE AND ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE: THE BARRIO BARRIER.” Journal of Regional Science 47, no. 1 (2007): 125–54.

The secondary source is a chapter from a science journal. The chapter analyzes major noise pollution from an airport in California. Its focus is on whether residents moved into the neighborhood when the noise pollution was there. Or did the noise from the airport arrive over time while residents had been living in the community for years. This chapter will provide a lot of insight in regards to socio-economic status and noise pollution correlation. Did these institutions take advantage of poor communities that lack knowledge and community organization? Or did these communities move in knowing the repercussions? And if they did know the repercussions was it the only option they had when it came to having a place to live?    


Goines, Lisa, and Louis Hagler. “Noise Pollution: A Modern Plague.” Southern Medical Journal (Birmingham, Ala.) 100, no. 3 (2007): 287–94.

The secondary source is a review article from 2007 on noise pollution being a modern day plague in society today. The article brings up key points such as noise pollution being a problem that remains unaddressed. It also compared how society today ignores noise pollution the same way people ignored tobacco products in the 1950s. By utilizing this source I can bring up important points on why noise pollution needs more awareness and action is needed to mitigate.


Image Analysis:

Top image: Early Ironbound campaigns against noise pollution. Fighting to reroute the planes. 
Botton image: Article from Ironbound Voices featuring a photo of protestors singing their own version of Christmas Carol’s related to noise pollution. 

“Photos: Airplane Noise.” Photos: Airplane Noise | Newark Public Library Digital Repository, 1979.

“Ironbound Voices.” Ironbound Voices | Newark Public Library Digital Repository, January 1981.

The Ironbound Community has been the center of the environmental justice movement. A community that suffers from air pollution, toxic waste, and noise pollution. When times are tough and odds are against them, the community unites to combat the threat against them. Noise pollution often goes over the average person’s head since many do not directly suffer from it due to the zip code they reside in. The images I have selected taken in 1979 and 1981 are prime examples of Ironbound Community Corporation’s deep grassroots movements against noise pollution from jets coming in and out of Newark International Airport. You will notice how the first image is an early representation of the movement and the second image shows the growth in the grassroots campaign. 

When you first look at the photo you most likely are drawn to the father and son holding a massive sign covering his whole body up to his neck. The father represents one of two males in this image who showed up to this rally against noise pollution in the Ironbound. With a serious face and hands in back pockets, the father is a representation of being the man of the household. To provide and protect, in this case his son who suffers from the constant noise from planes departing and arriving at Newark International Airport. The sign “Save our hearing. Save our health. Reroute the planes now!” being held by a boy represents the impact noise pollution is having on the youth of the Ironbound. Hoping that residents of New Jersey will be supportive of the campaign when it’s a health issue affecting kids. Society tends to pay more attention to child health issues more than adults. Not to say society turns a blind eye on adult health complications but if noise pollution from Boeing jets are flying over children’s homes and preventing them from having a good night’s sleep and performing well in school. Society will be much more sympathetic to the cause. The use of children was a strong tactic to bring awareness to noise pollution because it hooked the average person to pay attention to the broader issue at which was noise pollution in the Ironbound community. 

  Normally when we think of issues related to children we imagine concerned mothers advocating for the kids. In this case a father is out in the front lines breaking cultural norms supporting the demands for rerouting planes. The father, most likely a member of the working class stepping out possibly after a long day of hard labor to advocate for his child’s health, displays a dire concern on the noise from the airplanes. Notice how the father and son have a streak of dark lighting on them, a metaphorical representation of a dark time the family is going through. 

The women in the photograph represent the predominant group in the event and possibly the grassroots organization. However the father and son contrast that in this case. A father joining the movement may attract more males who can add a new dynamic. You only notice one other adult male in the background with his hands folded. By having more men around in the movement against noise pollution from the planes, the Ironbound Community Corporation will be taken more seriously by the Port Authority and leaders of Newark International Airport. Considering this was taken in 1979 the heads of the opposing groups were most likely male who didn’t bat an eye to the females protesting. One must understand the time period  had few females in positions of power and women were not taken seriously. Which is why this grassroots movement needed male supporters for it to be taken seriously. 

My second photograph is taken from a page in the Ironbound Voice, a local newspaper of the Ironbound. Taking place two years after the early Ironbound Community Corporation campaigns. What you notice first is a group of protestors Christmas caroling in Newark Airport. Compared to the first photo, you see a larger presence of men actively participating with women. Not only is there a growth in participation among the male demographic but now the campaign is present at the front line which is the airport. The time of year takes place during the holiday season and the group is singing their own version of a Christmas song. Rather than going with “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas”, the group is singing  “I’m Dreaming of a Quite Christmas” as quoted from the article in Ironbound Voices. One must recognize the strategic planning of singing their own songs of protest using holiday lyrics but doing so during the busiest time of travel during the year. Casual travelers will turn their attention to them, bringing unwanted attention to the leaders of Newark Airport and Port Authority. Newark Airport cannot risk this negative publicity. Will it deter travelers from utilizing the airport probably not but the attention on the growing issue will be enormous for the ICC. 

Lets focus on strategic planning by the Ironbound Community Corporation in the photograph. The women are one side and men the opposite. All are singing in unison to the song of protest. However one man at the end is holding two signs with a message for ongoing travelers. The message reads “If noise can shatter glass imagine what it can do to your nerves’ ‘, with a picture of a broken window. Picture yourself as an on going traveler attracted to the unique Christmas carols along with the imagery the sign provides to you. The growth in the campaign within two years is tremendous. Compared to the first picture that has two men at a rally but one is participating. In the first photograph the father is there with his son holding a sign to re-route the planes however he is not chanting or yelling to end the plane routes. But in the second picture all the men are actively singing songs of protest grabbing the attention of passengers. The women with their soothing voices provide that extra touch of concern to the issue of noise pollution. Both genders balance one another here and add legitimacy to the organization also. If you were to look at the first photo one will say why are there more women rather than men? How can I take this seriously? 

The photograph of the Christmas Carolers comes from an article in Ironbound Voices that discusses the promise of a change in flight patterns. Starting December 25 1981, the planes will fly over the Pulaski Sky when weather conditions are good. The Christmas carol protests are taking this, with a grain of salt, since this will happen during the winter season when most residents of the Ironbound are indoors. Even with a so-called promise of a change of routes, the Ironbound Community Corporation must still campaign to ensure if a promise is made that it is kept. 

Two photographs that are roughly two years apart tell two chapters in the fight against noise pollution. The first photograph reveals the early grassroots campaign that had small numbers attending rally’s, few men actively participated. The focus being on children since the average person will gravitate towards a movement more when children are involved. The second image shows growth and a stronger sense of unity. Men are actively singing songs of protest with women.The protest went from the local neighborhood to the front line of the issues at hand which was noise pollution from commercial jets. I hope these photographs allow people to understand why noise pollution is an issue that must be tackled. Why is it that the communities that suffer the most are of the poor minority working class? We should not turn a blind eye to communities that suffer noise pollution and say “Well if they do not like it. Move!”. Your zip code should not determine the quality of life one is going to receive. The Ironbound is home to many, where memories are made and most just do not have the ability to get up and move. The photos are a representation of the community’s strong resilience to come together and fight for one cause. The mainstream media largely ignores this because they are of the poor working class minorities but if it were a upper middle class suburban community the issue would have been solved much faster.   

Data Analysis:


Oral Interviews:

Video Story

The following video story discuss the history of the battle against noise pollution in the Ironbound of Newark. From the physical and psychological effects on residents, to campaigns to reroute planes. Noise pollution continues to be on going problem in the community.