All the old places look different now.

In exploring the Historypin site, I chose to feature a few pictures of U St. in Washington, DC around 1991 from the local blog popville. At that time, the U St. corridor was still several years from revival, and the construction visible in the pictures was from the building of the U St.-Cardozo metro stop and open in December 1991. As the blog’s author states,”The street was so desolate, even the drug dealers and the homeless didn’t hang there, and you almost felt safer there than in the populated parts of the neighborhood.”

The website itself was straightforward, and the integration with Google maps made it a breeze to use. This is not surprising considering Google was a technical and financial facilitator for the project. It was the ability to go back and forth between the past picture and current location that is probably the most innovative feature.

The website essentially ties into Tebeau’s discussion about apps and their ability to transform “the landscape into a living museum,” allowing users to follow right along literally in one’ s historical path on a virtual walk]ing tour. Or as Guldi describes, it allows the user to go “beyond the academy, to turn implies retrospection, a process of stopping in the road and glancing backwards at the way by which one has come.”

Innovative apps and interactive technologies allow the museum curator and historian to tell a narrative in a new way, while also providing an exploration of before and after that museums, organizations, and public historians must implement to make a compelling case for their collections.

In another way, the site provides an answer to “the impulse to position these new tools against old questions.” It allows for a new context for framing spatial questions about boundaries, surveillance, private property, and the perception of landscape.

The only real problem I ran into was that I could not find locations for one of the pictures I pinned. The locations had changed so much just in the last 24 years that the places were not recognizable from Google street view. It was somewhat like detective work, finding the images and matching them to the new locations and buildings, especially when some images were not labeled. John Russick said “Everything came from someplace,” but when that place and time no longer exist, they can no longer be experienced in context.
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