May 31, 2017

"Voiceover" Helps Preserve the Stories of Chicago

  • By: Jared Foretek
Trail opening

photo by: Latent Design

The 606 opened along the Bloomingdale Trail in 2015. Voiceover will broadcast stories from Chicagoans through speakers set up in the park.

Cities like Chicago are constantly reinventing themselves. It’s part of what people love about them; they’re never staid and there’s always something new.

But every time a wine bar moves to where an old butcher shop once stood, or a lifelong resident passes away, cities lose part of that connection to their past and what makes them unique—those little stories that may not make the history books but tell of a place and what it once was.

Unless, of course, they’re recorded.

The National Trust, Heineken USA, and the architects at Latent Design are trying to just that in Chicago. Voiceover is a public installation that will collect the reflections and memories of local Chicagoans and share them anonymously.

Artist's rendering

photo by: Latent Design

A recording kiosk will move throughout the city.

Artist's rendering 2

photo by: Latent Design

Speakers will broadcast the stories anonymously along The 606.

A recording booth will travel the city, inviting participants to step up and tell the story of their city as they see it in one or two minutes. Then, Chicago will speak as the responses are played through speakers set up on along The Bloomingdale Trail on The 606. An active public space with a great story of its own, it’s the perfect place to hear the story of Chicago as told by its residents.

Built in 1873, the elevated railway known as the Bloomingdale Line was an important part of Chicago’s rebirth after the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, serving both passenger and freight lines in some of the city’s rapidly growing industrial areas. But as the surrounding neighborhoods became largely residential and fewer trains rolled through, locals saw opportunity for much-needed green space. The grassroots, community-driven effort culminated when the park opened atop the line in 2015.

Chicago voiceover lights

photo by: Latent Design

The park sits atop a converted rail line.

Now, with your help, it can help pass along Chicago's stories as well. Teaming up with Heineken USA as part of The Cities Project, the National Trust has launched an Indiegogo campaign to help get Voiceover going. Donations will help to build the recording kiosk so it can start collecting those stories as early as this summer. Head over the campaign page to learn more about the project and the great perks you can score by contributing.

Contribute $150 to one of ten National Trust Indiegogo projects and get a pair of tickets to the Bruno Mars 24K Magic World Tour. (Restrictions apply. See full rules for details.)

Contribute Now

Jared Foretek enjoys historic train stations, old bars, and interesting public spaces, he was an editorial intern at the National Trust.

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