Sound Note

Sound Note:
Philly Waves
​by Esperanza Gonzalez

Re-PLACE-ing Philadelphia is building an expanded archive of cultural memory that includes multiple histories, re-place-ing the established with new narratives and understandings. Notes from invited artists and community members consider place via the street, sound, food, trees, and other portals. 

In partnership with educator Joshua Block, students from Philadelphia's Science Leadership Academy are creating and publishing their Philadelphia Field Notes. Esperanza Gonzalez details the sounds she hears travelling from her home in South Philly to school in Center City.

Cuando tu me miras y yo..Siento lo mismo que tu..Cuando tu me miras siento que me estoy enamorando. The lyrics of my favorite song and a mixture of birds chirping are the first sounds that fill my ears as I wake up. We hear sounds everywhere we go. Whether we’re walking the dog in the morning or walking to the bus station. Humans have five senses: hearing, sight, smell, touch, and taste. Each of them convey a different dimension to our human body.

Sometimes we humans take our five senses for granted and tend to focus on the big things and we forget about the small things. Hearing is the ability to perceive sound by detecting vibrations, changes in the pressure of the surrounding medium through time, through the organ called the ear. Hearing is an amazing sense to have because the ability to hear, can transport you to another dimension. For example, for the blind, hearing can make them visualize their settings and visualize the blank space that they will never get to see.  

Throughout the past few weeks I’ve made observations based on the sounds that I hear on my way to school and my way back. On a typical day, I would normally leave my house at 6:35 am and make my way to Center City. I live in South Philly and have access to a decent amount of public transportation. In the mornings, it’s very busy, especially during the weekdays because everyone goes to school and others go to work. During the morning I hear children laughing, cars and buses running, and also many conversations.

The first bus I take directs me towards Broad Street. It’s moderately loud and gets quieter after the students from Mastery Charter leave. The bus always makes that annoying sound on 9th street when it lowers the platform for the older people. As I make my way to the Broad Street line I hear nothing but vehicle engines, if you’re not awake by then, best believe they’ll wake you up. I board at the Oregon station and it always tends to be extremely quiet. When it gets to Snyder until City Hall it gets packed, and super loud and obnoxious. There are many conversations that contaminate the sub. Some weirder than others. If you don’t have headphones, it’ll be a long ride! I finally take the trolleys that go westbound. They’re usually very crowded but what helps is that they go back to back. There’s usually one after the other. I don’t have to worry about missing the trolley. The sounds inside the trolley station vary everyday, and the people are different depending on the train that you board. There’s always sounds of train tracks, loud music playing on headphones, and low key conversations.  

It’s evident that a trip from South Philly all the way to Center City can be a hassle. However, the different sounds you experience can tell you everything you need to know about the area. In South Philly, it’s very calm and relaxing. In the mornings, you will hear trees blowing, birds chirping, and minor vehicle sounds. You tend to see the same people everyday and experience the same sort of sounds unless something is going on. On the other hand, when arriving at Center City, you see all kinds of people and experience new sounds everyday. Sometimes paying attention to the small things is worth the time!


Sound Notes
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