What Are Those Mysterious New Towers Looming Over New York’s Sidewalks?

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“Who wants to look at something like that?” she asked.

The towers are not the only 5G antennas being installed in New York City. Others are going up on city property, like traffic lights and streetlamps.

At the end of September, jackhammering could be heard outside of the six-story brick building on the Upper East Side where Chelsea Formica, 32, lives with her husband, Joe, and their infant son.

Ms. Formica was in New Jersey visiting her mother when Joe called. “He was like, ‘Hey, you know, they put something up outside of our window. I’m just laying here on the couch and it’s pretty big.’” Then Ms. Formica got home. “I was like, ‘Oh, my God,’ freaking out. It’s huge. It’s so big.”

Workers for the telecommunications company ExteNet had installed a cylindrical object roughly the size of a human being: a 5G antenna that is 63 inches tall and 21 inches in diameter, according to the company. It is accompanied by a box that is 38 inches high, 16 inches wide and 14 inches deep — about the size of a filing cabinet or a night stand.

The imposing antenna is mounted on top of a slender pole, three stories high — more than 30 feet in the air — and right in front of Ms. Formica’s living-room window. It’s also just steps away from where their 5-month-old baby sleeps, which makes Ms. Formica uncomfortable.

“People say that it is safe; the F.C.C. says it’s safe and everything,” she said. “We’re just worried that it’s so close to my son’s bedroom.”

Alex Wyglinski, the associate dean of graduate studies and a professor of electrical and computer engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, said residents need not worry. He noted that 5G is non-ionizing radiation, on the opposite end of the spectrum from ionizing rays that people need protection from, like UV rays and X-rays.