The New York City StoryBooth is nestled in the heart of Lower Manhattan in historic Foley Square. This small island oasis is part greenspace part memorial on what used to be Collect Pond and the African American Burial Ground, it offers panoramic views of civic landmarks such as the New York County Supreme Court, Thurgood Marshall Courthouse, the visual center-piece is artist Lorenzo Pace’s “Triumph of the Human Spirit” Memorial and now StoryCorps’ lone New York City StoryBooth.
Early morning residents of near by Chinatown practice Tai Chi on the park’s lawns. During business hours a steady flow of tourists pose and snap shots while the area’s nine-to-five inhabitants – business people, lawyers and civil servants bustle to and fro. A transient parks his overloaded trestle by a park bench and washes up muttering to sweet nothings to himself, children play in the cool water of memorial’s fountain. They all seem to lead disparate and disconnected lives. Later, two participants come to booth and spend forty minutes of quiet, uninterrupted time together. They come talk about anything, their history – family, friends, hopes, dreams, fears, loves of their life. In the end, they’ve shared a part of themselves, their stories, their lives, and leave having had an opportunity to make history. With their permission their conversation is archived at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress.
People come by the booth all the time to ask questions: “What is this?”, “Do you have a restroom?” (we don’t) or to proclaim “Now I gotta story to tell”. Many have returned to do just that.
And who says Lower Manhattan is dead after hours? When the sun sets, after the denizens of Lower Manhattan corporate life return home and the tourists migrate uptown, Foley Square becomes a destination some of the city’s more colorful characters, skateboarders practicing jumps, couples on late-night romantic walks, and those just looking for a place to rest their feet after a long day of touring the city. Each has a story to tell…