The Peabody Award winning Sonic Memorial Project is an intimate and historic documentary commemorating the life and history of The World Trade Center and its surrounding neighborhood, through audio artifacts, rare recordings, voicemail messages and interviews. The Sonic Memorial Project was produced by The Kitchen Sisters in collaboration with NPR, independent radio producers, artists, writers, archivists, historians and public radio listeners throughout the country.
The Sonic Memorial Project began in October 2001 as part of the Lost & Found Sound series. We opened a phone line on NPR for listeners to call in with their stories and audio artifacts relating to the Sept. 11 attacks and the history of the World Trade Center. Hundreds of people called with testimonies and remembrances, music and small shards of sounds.
Combining interviews, voicemail messages, audio contributions from listeners, oral histories, home videos and recorded sounds of all kinds, the Sonic Memorial Project team created a series of stories for broadcast on NPR’s All Things Considered.
Now, these stories and contributions from listeners across the country can be heard at the Peabody Award-winning website SonicMemorial.org where you can explore the archive, contribute your own sounds and stories, and immerse yourself in the Sonic Browser, an interactive soundscape of stories and audio fragments.
The Sonic Memorial Project Hour Long Special
Hosted by Paul Auster
The Building Stewardesses: World Trade Center Construction Guides
As construction commenced on the largest building project since the Pyramids, questions and controversies swirled around Lower Manhattan. Guy Tozzoli, the Port Authority visionary behind the building of the Twin Towers, had an inspiration: “construction guides” — friendly young women in mini-skirted uniforms, posted at corner kiosks on the site to inform an inquiring public and put a pretty face on a controversial issue.
Walking High Steel: Mohawk Iron Worker and the Twin Towers
Six generations of Mohawk Indian ironworkers, known for their ability to work high steel, have helped shape New York City’s skyline. Hundreds of Mohawks still commute to Manhattan each week from reservations in Canada to work on the city’s skyscrapers and bridges. In September 2001, a new generation returned to the WTC site to dismantle what their elders had helped to build.
Love and Marriage at the WTC
Some of the most surprising messages left on the Sonic Memorial Project hotline have been the many tales of love and marriage that took place atop the World Trade Center. Interfaith marriages, interracial marriages, priests, rabbis, caterers — nearly 30 years of stories about love, family and the Twin Towers are contained in these recorded rituals.
The Sonic Memorial Project is a national collaboration of independent radio producers, artists, musicians, journalists, archivists, historians and public broadcasters. Led by executive producers The Kitchen Sisters (Davia Nelson and Nikki Silva), the team includes NPR, Picture Projects, WNYC, Jim McKee and Earwax Productions, Radio Diaries, transom.org, Ben Shapiro Productions, emerging producers Jamie York, Elinoar Astrinsky, ABC News, Sound Portraits, Creative Time, MPR/Public Radio Collaboration KQED, The Museum of Television and Radio and The Smithsonian Institution.
Major funding for the Sonic Memorial Project was provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the National Endowment for the Arts, with additional support by the Ford Foundation, the New York State Council on the Arts, California Council for the Arts and the Kitchen Sisters Productions/Sonic Memorial Fund.
Special thanks to: Julie Sweeny, Beverly Eckert, Jill Gartenberg, The Family of Chris Pickford, John Schaefer and New Sounds at WNYC, Joe Richman and Radio Diaries, Jay Allison and Vikki Merrick, Caryn Havlik, Tara Anderson and WFUV, Tim Folger, Nikki Stern, Christal Smith and KPPC, Francisco Lopez, Andy Lanset, Kathy Brew, Ellen Lewis, Romolo del Deo, Guy Tozzoli, Steve Zeitlin and City Lore, Ruxandra Guidi, Daren Commons, Grace Kee Heifetz, Picture Projects, dotsperinch, the New York Historical Society, Angus Kress Gillespie, Josh Pryor, KQED, Art Silverman, Carl Scorza, Elana Berkowitz, Manoli Wetherell, Jad Abumrad and all those who participated in the Sonic Memorial Project collaboration.