Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Historic Preservation Tuesday: Little Italy San Diego's "Now and Then" app

Napizza building in Little Italy, San Diego.

Communities where history is a key element of their identity often have a hard time communicating that history to new audiences, including new residents, especially when that history is accompanied by significant change in how the community is consumed and the addition of new construction of different types of buildings on a different scale.

The commercial district of San Diego's Little Italy is a combination business improvement district-Main Street program, so I have paid attention to it ever since I first got involved in Main Street type commercial district revitalization work.

The San Diego Union Tribune reports ("App brings Little Italy’s dynamic past to life: Launching today, it uses augmented reality to superimpose historical images") that with the new "Little Italy San Diego app" users can use the smartphones to see images of the site from the past, showing examples of different uses and buildings on the site over time.

From the article:
From one angle, the former Tait’s Meat Market is superimposed in front of the pizzeria, showing the street scene as it looked in 1924, complete with an antique car parked in front. From another angle, a photo from the 1930s surfaces, with two butchers in the forefront.

The AR component is the most technologically advanced feature of the app, which is believed to be the first of its kind for a San Diego neighborhood. The Little Italy app also includes maps, tour routes for adults and kids, restaurant, hotel, retail, parking and event listings, as well as detailed descriptions of the area’s landmarks, arts and culture offerings and rich melting-pot past.

The aim of the app, which was created through a partnership between the Little Italy Association and Guru, a San Diego-based technology company, was to turn the vibrant neighborhood into a walkable museum. ...

Hilary Srole, co-founder and project manager of Guru, which developed similarly interactive apps for Balboa Park and the San Diego Museum of Art, said she’s been living in San Diego for 10 years but had little knowledge of Little Italy’s history as a hub for the tuna fishing industry.

“There’s a story behind the neighborhood we wanted to expose so everyone can see it,” she said.

This 1924 photo of Tait’s Meat Market is what comes onto the screen of your mobile device when using the Little Italy app’s augmented reality feature while in front of Napizza, on India Street. Little Italy Association photos

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