Preserving Chicago’s Stories
27 November 2018
“Chicago is a town, a city that doesn’t ever have to measure itself against any other city. Other places have to measure themselves against it. It’s big, it’s outgoing, it’s tough, it’s opinionated and everybody’s got a story.” Anthony Bourdain. Parts Unknown. CNN. 1 May, 2016.
The late Anthony Bourdain certainly hit the mark when he epitomized what makes Chicago incomparable: its people. Sure, there are more than a few spots that make this city beautiful and exciting, and many of them are just right around the corner from 1000M. But what preserves this city’s image are the stories that come from its people, and one organization is looking to preserve those stories.
Founded in 2003 by radio producer David Isay, StoryCorps is an oral history project that has recorded more that 75,000 interviews with people all across the country. The non-profit organization acts as a public service that offers individuals from all walks of life to be interviewed and listened to — just as they are on public radio and online. Chicago is one of the few permanent locations where you can plan an interview throughout the year.
The recording studio is in an unusual location — located on the first level of the Chicago Cultural Center, there is a large box with room enough for three people: interviewer, subject and facilitator. At the end of the interview, a copy is delivered to the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress to be archived and a digital download is sent to you via email at a later date.
While it would be a great to be interviewed by the likes of Terry Gross or Ira Glass, telling your own story unaided adds a level of intimacy to this unique experience, and there’s always the possibility that StoryCorps will choose to broadcast or even animate your story. If you’re looking for a thoughtful gift for the holidays or a birthday, this is the perfect choice.
The StoryCorps exhibit and story booth operates from the Chicago Cultural Center located on 78 E. Washington St. and is open Monday-Saturday, 10AM-6PM. Recordings are by appointment and can be made on the StoryCorps website.