Lizzie Hughes 2nd Empire State Building

Second Empire State Building

Lizzie Hughes


A woman’s voice asks the same question repeatedly

“Could you tell me what floor you are based on please?”

The accent is that of British woman .

Those answering are Americans who are at work

In the Empire State Building in New York.

They are all on the phone.

Few question the legitimacy of the request.

Everyone involved is polite, courteous and helpful.

The building has 80 floors with offices.

The woman calls a different floor each time in no particular order.

There is a strong phone etiquette maintained in each exchange.

No one is unwilling to provide the information.

Some respond enthusiastically.

Others slightly confused and hesitant.

The mechanical sounds of the phone create a kind rhythm.

Each call represents a floor of the building.

Much like words on a list.

Perhaps each call is checked on completion.

Or maybe a line is drawn through.

Like a sketch of a multi-storeyed building.

Full of formal lines physical and verbal.

An acoustic portrait remains in mind.

Of a human tower.



Silence after the 80th call.


Post 9/11.