What was there?

On my drive to Toronto to the ECOO Conference, I took a little detour off the 401 to head around Kitchener-Waterloo and do a little sight seeing at the wonderful municipality where I had spent four years during my university time.  As I told the folks at the conference during a discussion, King Street remains unchanged with its various directions but the buildings sure have significantly.  In fact, driving by landmarks is pretty tough if I tried to do it by what I remembered.

But, it’s much, much different than the really olden days.

I was playing with the web site “WhatWasThere“.  It’s is an absolutely delightful resource for a little historical wandering about.  It’s a terrific example of what can be accomplished when you mash up current Google maps with pictures from days gone by.  KW has a few such pictures overlaid.

One is the Huether Hotel.  Selecting the old photo gives this terrific image.  With the photo, you can move your cursor around for further details.

It gets really cool when you select Streetview to see what it looks like today.  The original image is overlaid on the current Streetview image and a little slider allows you to adjust the transparency to see today’s image.  Or, you can slide it back and forth to enjoy the transformation!

So, I did some exploration courtesy of the website.  There were but 4 images for KW.  I moved eastward to Toronto and explored there where you’ll find more images and then headed back to Windsor.  Sadly, there wasn’t too much there but you can experience a view of Detroit from the Ambassador Bridge

or an old picture of the Cleary Auditorium.

If you head across the river to Detroit, there are many areas to explore including an image from Michigan and Trumbell for the 1935 World Series.  That would have been a great challenge to overlay at Comerica Park had things worked out differently for the Tigers this year.

The site is riveting if you’re a history buff.  I’ll give a local example of where this could head.  With the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812, it would be very cool if museums could dig into their archives and post old images or sketches from that time.  It would be a challenge for exact mashup placement, to be sure, but this would be an incredible way for students to identify history and its impact as placed on current locations.  To see an example, head over to Egypt and see an image of the opening of one of Tutankhamen’s tomb chambers.  But, we all have our local history – it would be a great public service effort for students to research materials at local museums and upload appropriate images to help this resource to continue to grow.

* As noted at the site, images are in the public domain.

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