The Roaring Twenties appealed to me as the subject for my blog post this week because, as a History major, the early 20th century is a subject of intense interest and fascination to me and a project which maps such a rarely explored aspect of historical moments, how it sounded, intrigued me immensely.
The website is simple and relatively easy to use and offers a quick text introduction to explain the purpose of the Roaring Twenties project: recreating and archiving the sounds of New York City in the early 20th century.
After the introduction you can access the main part of the website which offers a “Sound” portion of the project giving you an interactive soundboard of numerous New York City street sounds. The sources, like traffic, street signs, pedestrians, etc. are neatly and plainly explained and the soundboard is hidden in an old-timey 20’s newspaper aesthetic and it all fits together quite well.
The next part of the project is ominously called “Space” and offers a large map that can be interacted with by your mouse cursor. You can zoom in and out giving you extra details like cars and noise pollution, you can use the Timeline which offers newspapers and other texts from a number of different years. Unfortunately this map is a little clunky and takes a while to load, and interacting with it is equally as slow but also runs the risk of crashing the entire browser. While a good idea, the “Space” portion clearly could use a fair amount of debugging.
While not totally free of issues, The Roaring Twenties explores an aspect of history that I have never even thought of or truly considered as being possible to archive, and for that reason I have to recommend the site to anyone interested in digital humanities projects.