Why Didn’t I Think of That?

Walk On, Pittsfield 250. Credit J Dickson

Put this in the better idea category.   At least in the idea on how to use photos to travel back in time.

I was wandering in downtown Pittsfield, Massachusetts when I came upon a photo pasted on the sidewalk.  It turned out to be a historic photo of a building across the street, taken from the same vantage point over a century earlier.  The current building is a bank, but the photo shows it used to be a fire department.

The poster is a “walk-on” and is but one of multiple posters in a public art project set up to commemorate the city’s 250th anniversary.  Only a handful of the posters are historic, but they do represent one way to transport oneself back in time to see, for example, shoppers coming out of a downtown department store (now another bank building) or an aerial view of the GE facilities (now largely deserted) or of Park Square in the 1860s (now, more open).    Placed correctly, you can let your imagination run!

One other way to use historic photos is through mobile technology.  There’s a mobile app called “What was There” which pinpoints (through Google Maps) photos which users have uploaded of sites around the country.   With an address, you can go to the site, find the photo and position yourself to see what it looked like 50 or 150 years earlier.   Right now, it just needs a lot more users to upload photos.

For more info:

On “Walk On”:  http://pittsfield250.com/2011/02/walk-on-%E2%80%A2-public-art-installation/

On “What was There”: http://whatwasthere.com/

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