Volume 16 • Issue 54 | June 4 - 10, 2004



9/11 memories to be preserved at W.T.C. sound booth

By Josh Rogers

Downtown Express photo by Ramin Talaie

A sound booth similar to this one in Grand Central Station is expected to be brought ot the World Trade Center site by this Sept. 11 to record people’s thoughts about 9/11.

From the wife whose husband was killed to the workers and residents who fled Lower Manhattan to the rescue workers who rushed to the buildings to the person who watched the Twin Towers collapse on a television thousands of miles away, there are countless stories connected to 9/11, and by this September people are expected to have a place to record their memories of the day on the same block where nearly 3,000 people were killed.

The Lower Manhattan Development Corporation’s board on Wednesday approved a $500,000 payment to StoryCorps and September’s Mission to set up an oral history booth at the World Trade Center site by the three-year anniversary of the attack.

The interviews will become part of the archives of the interpretive center that will be located under the W.T.C. memorial, said Anita Contini, vice president of memorial and cultural affairs for the L.M.D.C. The Library of Congress will also keep the records.

StoryCorps is also on the short list of groups vying to help run the proposed memorial center at the W.T.C. and may be able to renew its one-year contract to run the sound booth. It is a non-profit organization and will have trained interviewers in the booth, similar to the one the group opened in Grand Central Station in October.

The Living Memorial Project will be focused on Sept. 11-related issues and September’s Mission, a 9/11 families organization, will reach out to victims’ relatives to relate their stories. StoryCorps will encourage residents, rescue and recovery workers, and people who escaped the towers to relate their tales. The group charges $10 for a CD copy of the interview at Grand Central, but David Reville director of the organization said the CDs will be free for these groups of “people affected by Sept. 11 itself.”

Anyone will be allowed to make an appointment for a 40-minute interview and those not directly affected by the attacks will be charged at the W.T.C., said Reville. He said on a typical week, about 30 pairs or individuals come to the Grand Central booth. Most often it is one relative interviewing another about family history or an individual being interviewed on a subject by a StoryCorps worker.

Reville anticipates that many out-of-town visitors will also want to talk about 9/11. “The site will inevitably color the topics that are discussed in the booth,” he said.

The Downtown booth will likely be outdoors and look like the one in Grand Central, although Reville said his architects now have to come up with a design that will be comfortable in all seasons. The existing booth is 10 by 12 feet and 11 feet high.

The L.M.D.C.’s Anthoula Katsimatides said it was important to have more of an official presence at the site because loiterers often “provide at times tasteless accounts” of the attack to visitors. She said it is preserving the history of the day is also essential. “These stories need to be recorded now before they are lost,” Katsimatides added.

Reville said he was not concerned that the interviews will be conducted three years later since visitors are often able to recall events that occurred 50 years ago “with a precision and clarity that is shocking.”

Carl Weisbrod, an L.M.D.C. board member, said an ideal location for the booth is near the PATH commuter entrance, but no decision has been made yet.

The booth will cost $196,000 to build and will be open seven days a week for a total of 59 hours. The rest of the $500,000 will be used for the other costs connected to the project. StoryCorps, an organization started by a radio documentary group, Sound Portraits Productions, will need to raise an additional $111,000 to fund the one-year project. High-profile charitable organizations including the MacArthur Foundation and the Ford Foundation have financed previous group projects and may be involved at the W.T.C.


Josh@DowntownExpress.com



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