Sites of Memory reattaches memories of the dead to locations in New York City through audio guided walking tours and map-based archives, linking separate urban sites together into a larger story about remembrance, mortality and forgetting.


Mobile audio tours guide you through an invisible layer of the city. Click on a featured tour and send the link to your phone. These tours run in the browsers of HTML5 capable smartphones.


Check out unique sites near your current location or explore far-away neighborhoods. Each map point contains a short text, audio file, and image.

About the project

Did you know that pirates were once hanged from the gallows on the island where the Statue of Liberty now stands? Or that 1904’s General Slocum steamship disaster was the largest single-day loss of life in New York City until 9/11? These events and countless other stories like them stubbornly hang around their old neighborhoods, though many of the places are long gone—the waterfront filled in, the buildings torn down, characters long since dead and buried. But the narratives endure, and tales that unfolded decades or even centuries ago can still resonate with our lives today in unexpected ways.

Curated tours—similar to a multi-chapter book—describe the bigger picture of cultural and social conditions, locate a viewer in time and give context for the issues raised by the narrative. Single points of interest—more like individual short stories—provide quicker hits of narrative.

The next phase of Sites of Memory will allow users to upload their own memorial tributes to create an interactive, publicly accessible archive of remembrance.

Sites of Memory is supported by a grant from the AOL Artists 25 for 25 program.



Photograph © Marco Antonio

KURT ANDERSEN is the author of three critically acclaimed novels--True Believers (2012), Heyday (2007) and Turn of the Century (1999)—as well as the books Reset (2009) and The Real Thing (1980). He also writes short fiction, screenplays and work for the theater. In addition, he's host of Studio 360, the Peabody Award-winning public radio program, a new series of WNYC variety specials called Kings County, and a contributing editor to Vanity Fair. Previously, he co-founded Spy, served as editor-in-chief of New York and has been a columnist for The New Yorker and Time.


Lewis H. Lapham is the founder and editor of Lapham's Quarterly, a newly-launched, award winning and critically acclaimed journal of history and ideas, praised by the historian David McCullough as "a god-send and a genuine treasure," and by the novelist, Dave Eggers, as "brilliant and much needed."  Lapham's Quarterly was rated "one of the years hottest launches" by MIN, the media industry newsletter; Library Journal named it one of the best new journals of the year, and the Utne Reader judged it to be the "best new publication of 2009."

The editor emeritus of Harper's Magazine, Lapham in 2007 was inducted into the American Society of Magazine Editors Hall of Fame.  He is the author of thirteen books, among them Money and Class in America, The Wish for Kings, Waiting for the Barbarians and Theater of War.  He produces a weekly podcast, "The World in Time" for Bloomberg News, and his documentary film, "The American Ruling Class" has become part of the curriculum in many of the nation's schools and colleges.  A member of the Council on Foreign Relations, Lapham has lectured at many of the nation's leading universities, among them Yale, Princeton, Dartmouth, and Stamford and the Universities of Michigan, Virginia, and Oregon.


Luc Sante’s books include Low Life, Evidence, The Factory of Facts, and Kill All Your Darlings. He teaches at Bard.


Part personal remembrance, part educational project, Sites of Memory reattaches memories of the dead to locations in New York City through audio guided walking tours and map-based archives, linking separate urban sites together into a larger story about remembrance, mortality and forgetting.
Sites of Memory links our modern selves to the shared history of our great metropolis. The project frees unseen memories hidden in the stones and streets of our city from layers of time and neglect, and retells colorful yet forgotten stories of fascinating lives.
Curated tours have ten to twelve map points meant to be experienced in numerical sequence. As you follow along, a linear story unfolds.

Individual points of interest are a little different; Sites of Memory in all five boroughs are grouped into a single non-sequential tour. These stories are not related-except in the sense that seen together, they make up a memorial snapshot of our city, and of events and people now largely lost to time.
From my desktop?
Discover events that happened in neighborhoods across all 5 boroughs of New York City by clicking the data points on the map and listening to the audio narration. You can follow along one of our sequentially numbered tours—each point a small part of a bigger story—or explore locations at random. If you click the small yellow man icon at top left of the main map and drag him to a Site of Memory location, you’ll get the Google street view of what it looks like today. Look for the Sites of Memory map pin (it will appear overlaid on the street view image) to identify your vantage point.

From my mobile device?
Email a tour to your HTML5 -enabled smartphone or tablet and proceed to the first stop on the tour. As you approach each Site of Memory, hit the play button on your screen to activate the audio for the location. Some tours cover a great deal of distance, and are impractical to cover in their entirety unless you are a truly intrepid hiker. Other tours include inaccessible points located, for example, in the middle of the East River or many miles away from other tour points. It isn’t expected that anyone will actually attempt to get there, but these spots are included because they play a critical role in the larger narrative. The tour will direct you to a vantage point where you can see the distant location, listen to the audio file, and then move on to the next local tour stop.
Yes, very soon! We’re working hard on the next phase of the project, which will allow users to post their own photos, written reminiscences, and audio tributes onto a special personal memories section of the site. Stay tuned! If you’d like to receive progress updates and receive notification when we’re ready to launch, please send us your email address.
If you are encountering any difficulties using the site or mobile tours, please email and we will do our best to solve the issues. It helps us a great deal if you can tell us what kind of computer, operating system and browser you’re using, or what kind of mobile device, and if you can describe the specific problem you’re having.
We provide links to all research sources used in creating the tours. You’ll find stories about memorials, updates about new Sites of Memory tours and events, and links to artist’s projects on the subject of death, mortality, and remembrance on our blog. Please follow us on Twitter and Facebook too!
Feel free to email with any questions, comments, or suggestions—we’re always looking for ways to improve Sites of Memory.
Logo design by Priest+Grace
Website by CW&T



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About the project