The app that takes you back

The Historic Albany Foundation recently announced the release of member Tim Varney’s new smartphone app “Albany: Then and Now.” Even the title alone sounds exciting! And now, after throwing a super fancy release the party, the app is officially available for download. So what exactly does “Albany: Then and Now” do, you ask?

The opening app screen (left) where you can navigate to the map (right). Each red arrow represents a location with an historical image associated with it.

The app acts a bit like a time-travel street tour scavenger hunt: a map points out over 130 different locations in downtown Albany and each one has its own historical photograph showing that exact point within the city back in the good old days (yes, that is an official way to mark time. There were the good old days, the ok old days, the mediocre old days, and the forgettable old days. I promise you, it’s true. Look it up.)

Screenshot from the app. The majority of the images in the app, including this one, are around 100 years old.

It even goes so far as to give you details as to where the photographer stood and in what direction they were facing when they took the picture. Which means you can recreate the photo yourself! And in 30 years you can show your grandkids and say, “This black and white is from the good old days. This iPhone picture is from the mediocre days. And we just shot this hologram today!” Amazing.

If you’re not in the downtown Albany area and still want to astound your grandchildren, fear not! WhatWasThere is an awesome website that allows you to do a “then and now” for thousands of locations all throughout the country. While not as convenient as having it in an app, you can still hop on the site and try to re-create historic and vintage photographs from your area.

You can read more about the Albany: Then and Now app here and download it at either the iTunes app store or at the Google Play store.

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