Photo Archives News: Cool Walking Tour Using Your Smartphone

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High Street, West Chester in 1888. 

Borough Resident Brings Time Machine to West Chester

No Delorean, Just a QR Code Reader Needed

West Chester, PA--West Chester is now home to Digital Exhibition Space, which turns our town into a walking time capsule fused with the best of 21st century technology. Eight locations around town have been outfitted with a QR code, which is a type of barcode. When someone scans this window to the past with their smart phone or tablet, a historic photo appears of that location. The West Chester images date from 1870 to 1960.

Kyle Hudson, a borough resident who is a radio producer and filmmaker, got the idea one day while working at Penn's Table. "I was looking at this old picture they have of Gay Street.  I thought wouldn't it be cool if you could bring the picture outside, stand at the intersection and look at then and now, side by side?," said Hudson.

Kyle partnered with the Chester County Historical Society, which provided the historic images.  Pam Powell, Photo Archivist, dug up all of the pictures for the project from the CCHS Photo Archives, which houses over 80,000 images.

“This is an exciting new way to view historical photographs, from the very spot where they were taken! CCHS has been looking for a way to make our resources more accessible to the public and this is by far the most fun & innovative. Kyle’s idea is brilliant”

Hudson is equally enthused about the project. "You can do so much with QR codes now that smart phones and tablets are everywhere.  But they are just a delivery system. Pam was able to find pictures for maximum effect, and that's why this really works.  Her knowledge of the Photo Archives is amazing. After I described what I was going for she brought out these pictures by Horace Engle, just some candid, man on the street pictures from 1886," said Hudson.

The tour stops include:
Chester County Historical Society, 225 North High St.
Jane Chalfant, 123 North High St.
Kreutz Creek Vineyards, 44 East Gay St.
Susquehanna Bank, 9 North High St.
Senator Dinniman's Office, 1 North Church St.
Test Subject, 202 W Market St.
Penn's Table, 100 E Gay St.
WCHE 1520AM, 105 West Gay St
Iron Hill Brewery and Restaurant, 3 West Gay Street

This free self-guided tour is just the first step in a series of planned tours that will come to the borough and county. Visitors can view the tour on:

 Google maps or on the CCHS website

This blog posting provided by Leslie Weinberg  Hudson and edited by Laurie Rofini.  Originially posted November 26, 2012