NPR Cities: Urban Life In The 21st Century
Tue July 24, 2012
Sights And Sounds: The 'Heart' Of Your City
Originally published on Fri July 27, 2012 10:47 am
When you think about where you live, what sights and sounds come to mind? In Washington, D.C., the sound might be the click of a camera shutter made by tourists. But what about your city?
From the coffee shop on the corner to the park down the street, all urbanites have a place they think of as the heart of their city. It's where you go when you want to feel like a citizen of Memphis, New York City or San Francisco. It's the place you think of as synonymous with Greensboro, N.C., Fort Wayne, Ind. or Portland, Ore. It's what you talk about when someone asks, "What's Chicago like?"
And even if your local office of tourism has never heard of it, we want to know what and where it is. We want you to share the heart of your city with us. Is it the subway platform? The view from your favorite bridge? Snap a photo then send it our way via email (nprcities at npr dot org), Flickr (tag your photo #nprcities) or Tumblr (tag your submission #nprcities). Include your name, the name of the person who took the picture, the location of the photo (full address or street intersection, including city and state), and describe your submission in 300 characters (!!!) telling us what makes it the "heart of your city."
You can also record a sound file and send it to us:
1. Go to a place where you can hear your favorite sound and start recording.
2. Say your full name slowly and clearly. Then: "The sound of (YOUR CITY NAME) is (NAME OF SOUND)." For example: "My name is John Smith. The sound of Columbus, Ohio, is the lunchtime crowd at the deli on my street."
3. If you stumble, just pause, take a take breath, and try again.
4. Record the sound for at least 60 seconds.
5. Give it a listen (with headphones if possible) and make sure it came out clearly. Feel free to try it out a few times and then choose your best take.
6. Upload the file to Soundcloud (make sure your clip is downloadable) and tag it #nprcities.
Or, for iPhone users, try this:
1.Go to a place where you can hear your favorite sound.
2. Open the "Voice Memos" app on your iPhone. (Every iPhone has it; if you can't find it, check the Utilities folder.)
3. Press the red record button on the left, and then hold the phone up to your ear as if you were making a call.
4. Say your full name slowly and clearly. Then: "The sound of (YOUR CITY NAME) is (NAME OF SOUND)."
For example: "My name is John Smith. The sound of Columbus, Ohio, is the lunchtime crowd at the deli on my street."
5. With your phone still recording, get as close to the source of the sound as possible. Record for at least 60 seconds.
6. If you stumble, just pause, take a take breath, and try again.
7. Record the sound for at least 60 seconds.
8. When you're done, press the record button again to stop. Then press the button on the right to access your recording. Give it a listen (with headphones if possible) and make sure it came out clearly. Feel free to try it out a few times and then choose your best take.
9. When you're satisfied with the recording, highlight your file and click the "share" button. Email it to
email@example.com. Type your name in the subjectline.
We are using your submissions in this lovely interactive graphic.
As long as you can photograph it or record it, nothing's too small! But we do have some guidelines:
1. No Liberty Bells, Please. Tourist attractions are fun to visit, but we're looking for the part of your city that gets left out of the guidebooks.
2. Limit Your Sound Recordings To One Minute Or Less. We're looking for sound that gives a sense of place.
3. Remember, We're A Family-Friendly Website. This probably goes without saying, but please keep your submissions G-rated.
4. Sorry, No Videos Or Animated GIFs. But that doesn't mean you can't get creative.
5. Think Public Spaces. The basement your band practices in may be SO Detroit, but we're looking for places everyone can experience.