Waiting for the bus along Southern Boulevard in the Bronx just got groovier.
The United States' musical legacy owes a great deal to the Bronx. That's according to folklorist Elena Martinez with the Bronx Music Heritage Center.
"I don't know if there's anything special in the water or in the air that makes it special," she said. "It's just a matter of it's a place where groups of people in their communities settle, and are able to continue their traditions."
Martinez says the center wanted to showcase the borough's multicultural sound, and integrate it into people's daily lives. That's why they partnered with the New York City Department of Transportation and the Design Trust Fund for Public Space to develop Boogie Down Booths. They're audio kiosks designed to overpower the Bronx's typical urban soundscape of rumbling trains and honking cars, and give commuters a taste of its diverse musical flavors.
"They might hear a hip hop song, next to a Puerto Rican plena, next to a traditional Garifuna song, next to a Jazz song by Will Calhoun or Jimmy Owens," she said.
Martinez says the booths will expose Bronx residents and visitors alike to genres tough to hear on what she says are increasingly homogenized music stations.
"You might not like everything you hear, but at least you'll be familiar with it and have heard it," she said. "Maybe you'll find out you do like something once you hear it as well."
The first Boogie Down Booth's up and running by a bus stop on Freeman Street. Martinez says they're installing another kiosk along Southern Boulevard, as well as one in Melrose, within the next couple of years.