Extraordinary Stories of Ordinary Life
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The View From the 79th Floor

Ernie Sisto/AP Photo

On July 28, 1945 an Army bomber pilot on a routine mission found himself lost in the fog over Manhattan. A dictation machine in a nearby office happened to capture the sound of the plane as it hit the Empire State Building at the 79th floor.

Fourteen people were killed. Debris from the plane severed the cables of an elevator, which fell 79 stories with a young woman inside. She survived. The crash prompted new legislation that – for the first time – gave citizens the right to sue the federal government.

This story was featured on Rob Rosenthal’s How Sound podcast. Click here to go behind the scenes and learn how we put this story together using bits and pieces of archival tape.

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