April 1993: A small village in Sicily prepares for the first visit of 78-year-old baseball legend Joe DiMaggio to the town where his parents were born and raised. Flags are strung, feasts prepared, nearly the entire annual budget of the town is spent preparing for the homecoming of the Yankee Clipper. Hundreds gather at the airport in Palermo waiting to greet their “native son.” But he never comes.
As construction commenced on the largest building project since the pyramids, questions and controversies swirled around Lower Manhattan. How tall? Why two? What’s a slurry wall? A kangaroo crane? Where are the small businessmen going to go? What’s a world trade center, and who needs it anyway? Guy Tozzoli, the Port Authority visionary behind the building of the Twin Towers, had an inspiration—”Construction Guides.” Friendly co-eds in mini-skirt uniforms were posted at corner kiosks on the site to inform an inquiring public and put a pretty face on a controversial issue.
This story is part of the Peabody Award winning Sonic Memorial Project, 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.
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.