Unless you’ve tried it, you might find it hard to believe that you can hear an echo of your voice just by standing on pavement in Tulsa, Okla. Sweetums and I tried it recently and … it works! It was really interesting to find that, when we stood in the center of a circle, we heard an echo of everything we said, only louder. It was really fun.
Some websites call the acoustic anomaly the “Sonic Center of the Universe.” It is located in downtown Tulsa near a really strange – and really tall – work of art called Artificial Cloud. Bricks are laid in a circle so people can find the spot, although it is not otherwise marked.
The spot wasn’t always there. Roadside America says: “In the 1980s Tulsa’s old Boston Street Bridge was badly damaged in a fire. It was rebuilt as a pedestrian walkway, complete with cement planters and (later) concrete terrorist barriers on either end. A swirly pattern of bricks was inset into the pavement at the bridge apex to hide an expansion joint. The small, well-worn disc of cement at the center of the swirl (sometimes mistaken for a manhole cover) naturally attracts walkers as a kind of bulls-eye. Whoever was responsible for the design did not realize that if someone stands on the disc and speaks, their voice becomes mysteriously amplified and distorted.”
Atlas Obscura explains it this way: “ … the effect is thought to be caused by the sound reflecting off a circular wall, in this case a nearby planter. Still, though many people have studied the cause of the odd anomaly there’s no clear consensus. Whatever the causes of this natural sonic distortion may be, it is truly an amazing place.”