One of my all time favorite movies is 'Back to the Future' where Marty McFly goes back in time 30 years and experiences his hometown of Hill Valley as it was in the 1950s. Overlapping the past and present has long been a feature of Hollywood movies, and now the ability to take a step back in time comes to your smartphone with Historypin. This nifty little app allows you to see buildings around you as they were in the past, with sometimes multiple pictures and dates to show their progression over time.
Pointing your camera and using the overlay feature allows you to see the old picture version of the building on top of the building right in front of you now. For example, the awesome Paramount theatre building on Broadway in Oakland, whose art deco façade has remained intact since it opened in 1931, still looks as good as it did back then. You can snap a modern replica of the photo and upload it to Historypin as well. You can also screen photos according to year by using a slider at the bottom of the screen. This app makes walking around neighborhoods and looking at old pictures of buildings that still stand today cool, and I’m sure it will inspire people to go out and relive the past around them.
Although Historypin’s idea is really cool, it is still its infancy and therefore likely to frustrate many users due to a dearth of photos in their area. According to Historypin's website, 55,949 photos are currently available world wide and this number is sure to increase especially with Google's involvement (this app was made in partnership with Google since their Streetview technology is an integral component). So its likely users in cities such as New York City, San Francisco and Chicago will like this app because of its abundant pictures versus folks in, say, Milwaukee or Portland.
One typical problem community based apps like this one inevitably confront is quality control since people can post pictures and comments pretty much unhindered. Hopefully, as Historypin grows so will it’s collection of curated photos from libraries, museums and everyday people, allowing us to look at the world as it was and comparing it to the present.
AppPicker Rating: 4 / 5 Stars
Pick It Up in the App Store: Historypin
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