Photo: philipwchan / Shutterstock.com
Dennis Ferrara is a Brooklyn native who was working for the New York City Department of Transportation as a supervising electrician when his voice was recorded. His unmistakable New York accent can still be heard on 15 pedestrian signs at crosswalks across the city. When people push the buttons on these signals, they hear Ferrara’s voice telling them, among other cues, that the “wawk” signal is on. (via @broadway_optimist)
News from New York (2012):
In Mr. Ferrara’s New York, “Avenue” takes an “h” or three. The “a” in “Jay Street” is crossed out. And at least one “w” is added to the first syllable of “Broadway.”
… Mr. Ferrara, who has lived in Gerritsen Beach most of her life, has had no professional voice training. Past activities have included deli ownership and occasionally diving for gems at Coney Island. He jokes that his vocational school had no English classes. His qualifications, so to speak, include pronouncing “ask” as “axe.”
The job came to him by luck and by profession, because it belongs to him and because if he didn’t do it, someone else would have to.
I wasn’t able to embed the video here, but ToddCamNYC recorded two of Ferrara’s voice cues.