photo-album

WhatWasThere.com creates album of then-and-now photos

Sep. 16, 2011 at 7:57 PM ET

WhatWasThere.com /
A photo showing part of Adamson Square in Carrollton, Ga. from the 1950s is compared to what it looks like now, with a photo from Google Street View.

You know how neat it is to go into a town or city museum and see then-and-now photos of a place, mulling over markers of its history that remain or perhaps are no longer reflected in current photographs.

Now, a website wants to do the same thing with photos from every place in the world — but it will take a global effort to make it work.

WhatWasThere.com describes itself as a "virtual time machine of sorts that allows users to navigate familiar streets as they appeared in the past."

The site makes it easy for anyone to upload a photo, and only two "tags," or identifying pieces of info, are needed: Location and year.

"If enough people upload enough photographs in enough places, together we will weave together a photographic history of the world (or at least any place covered by Google Maps)," the site's founders say. "So wherever you are in the world, take a moment to upload a photograph and contribute to history!"

It's not dissimilar to some recent photo-sharing efforts that have launched, including Historypin and DearPhotograph.

There's also a free iPhone app for WhatWasThere that, using the phone's GPS, lets you see historic photographs that have been shared near your current location, and uses the phone's camera "for an augmented reality experience of the history that surrounds you." (My experience was the app is that it has potential but is sluggish.)

One thing's for sure: It's going to take more than a village to get WhatWasThere.com to a point where lots of people will want to use it. But if each of us starts contributing now, it could be quite amazing.

— Via Gizmodo

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