September 11 Digital Archive

The Sonic Memorial Project


The Sonic Memorial Project

Description is an open archive and an online audio installation of the history of The World Trade Center. It collected stories, ambient sounds, voicemails, and archival recordings to tell the rich history of the twin towers, the neighborhood and the events of 9/11.

Led by NPR's Lost & Found Sound, The Sonic Memorial Project is a cross-media collaboration of more than 50 independent radio and new media producers, artists, historians, and people from around the world who have contributed personal and archival recordings. To date, we have gathered more than 1,000 contributions, many of which have been woven into feature stories by Lost & Found Sound and broadcast on NPR. is produced by Picture Projects and dotsperinch in collaboration with Lost & Found Sound.

Items in the The Sonic Memorial Project Collection

Christian Blom talks about Spanish composer Francesco Lopez who recorded sounds of the room and electronics, sounds of the building posted as a tribute.

Eva Garfield was house-sitting in the Village on September 11. In these voicemails saved by her boyfriend in Germany, she describes listening to the NPR news that day and how she stood on Greenwich Street and watched the towers fall.

Elisa Karp plays the recording she made throughout the day on 9/11. In this audio journal, she talks to friends, sends instant messages, and looks out from her uptown apartment.

DJ Mondo Lucien Remembers the Greatest Bar on Earth [Voicemail]
Lucien Samaha was a DJ at the Greatest Bar on Earth every week for nearly 5 years. He describes these parties at the top of the WTC.

Wally Siegel and his wife had their 25th wedding anniversary and vow renewal at Windows on the World--they've now been married for 42 years. Siegel describes being "married in the clouds."

Sound editor and designer Ben Cheah recorded the elevators at WTC the month before the attacks.

Lori Pike, a visitor from California, recalls the sound of the revolving doors at the WTC as a metaphor for energy of the city.

Abigail Kafka recalls the sound of the busy signals she kept getting at pay phones on 9/11 and talks about the lines of people waiting to use the phones.

Michael Kubin threw a surprise birthday party for his wife's 30th at Windows on the World in 1982.

Patty Gras wrote a song in Spanish for the undocumented Latino workers and those who jumped from the building. She translates the song and plays a tape of it.

Musician Tilman Reitzle has a sound library of recordings made in 1986 at the WTC. Among the ambient sounds in his collection are the noises of the escalators and the turnstyles.

Standing on the WTC observation deck, Marjory Johnson heard a cricket chirping. She recalls wondering how it got all the way up there.

Stephanie Brody Lederman was one of the artists whose work was exhibited in the mezzanine of the WTC in the 1980s. She describes fellow exhibitor Louise Nevelson's dramatic entrance at that art opening.

Brooklynite Felicia Herman remembers the elevator observation deck elevator. She chose Windows on World for tenth birthday dinner and was especially impressed by the fancy bathrooms.

Janis Ian at CenterStage [Archival Music]
Folk singer and songwriter Janis Ian, performing at the Twin Towers on August 1, 2001--just three weeks before the attacks--talks to the crowd and then plays an encore that now seems somewhat prescient.

Ellen Lytle, who lives six blocks away from Ground Zero, saved the voicemails she received from concerned friends and family on 9/11.

Musician Lynn Skinner recorded her composition for piano and voice on December 28, 2001. She describes it as a reflection on September 11 and a moment of hope.

Les Robertson, the WTC structural engineer, explains how the acceptable sway for the building was determined.

Boricua Blues, 8/11/01 [Music]
On August 17, 2001, a month before the attacks, Jose Mangual Jr. and his band Sonboriqua performed this upbeat piece, Boricua Blues, at the WTC. The piece was written with the towers in mind.

Photographer Joel Meyerowitz started taking pictures at the WTC in 1981. In this interview with Terry Gross on NPR's Fresh Air, recorded on October 23, 2001, he talks about trying to photograph the events of 9/11. Part 3: The importance of…

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