The Marginalian
The Marginalian

Historypin: Past Meets Present in Street View

Photographic Time Machine is one of our all-time most popular articles, but it spotlights projects that, while fascinating, are one-off art experiments. How fantastic would it be if there were a broader, more expansive platform for intersecting past and present through historical photography, a digital time machine of sorts? Well, now there is. Enter Historypin — a mashup of modern mapping and archival photos that offers a new way to explore and share history.

Developed by We Are What We Do, the social movement behind Anya Hindmarch’s now-iconic I’m Not a Plastic Bag bag, in partnership with Google, the project pulls photos from various national archives and private-sector collections, and “pins” them over Google Maps Street View to create a fascinating fold in the space/time continuum.

Archival photos can both be dated and geotagged, painting a precise portrait of how specific locations have changed. Users can even submit their own and write stories about them, adding a wonderful urban storytelling component akin to Hitotoki.

From 19th-century views of Baltimore and Potomac Railway Station to London’s iconic High Street on Victory in Europe Day in 1945, Historypin features nearly 2,000 photos and stories pinned just a couple of days after the official launch and has the potential to become the largest user-generated archive of historical images and stories, documenting not only how the physicality of our world is changing but also how our experience of it is responding to those changes — a priceless timecapsule of cultural change.

Published June 4, 2010




Filed Under

View Full Site

The Marginalian participates in the and affiliate programs, designed to provide a means for sites to earn commissions by linking to books. In more human terms, this means that whenever you buy a book from a link here, I receive a small percentage of its price, which goes straight back into my own colossal biblioexpenses. Privacy policy. (TLDR: You're safe — there are no nefarious "third parties" lurking on my watch or shedding crumbs of the "cookies" the rest of the internet uses.)