The Old Eighth Photo-Tour is Finally Live!

It has been a whirlwind of a year for Digital Harrisburg and the Commonwealth Monument project. As the school year comes to a close, we are happy to announce that a resource we’ve been working on for a very long time, is finally live. The Digital Harrisburg Storymap of the Old Eighth Ward now includes (in addition to Look Up Look Out poster locations, and Census Data) the locations of, and directions of all pictures in the Old Eighth Photo Tour.

My work on this project has been a long process that began an entire school year ago. It has spanned duties as mundane as assigning addresses to pictures and locating them on a map, to thrilling new skill acquisitions with ArcGis.

Now, thanks to the work of Professor Albert Sarvis of Harrisburg University, the directions of the pictures have been added to the points we found, and their corresponding pictures attached. This is a fairly complicated resource on the back end, but the user only has to click on one of the photo icons on the map to instantly see what the photographer saw when he stood in that spot over 100 years ago. This is the ultimate “standing-in-someone-else’s-shoes” experience, and in my opinion achieves fantastically the goal of this entire project of celebrating the people and places of a neighborhood that is no longer on the map.

On a slightly more personal note, I could not be happier to see this thing finally in its completed stage. I’ve spent the last year describing my work on the project to people as “like google maps, but for 1910s Harrisburg” and that simply is not as exciting as inviting them to pick a street, any street, from the Old Eighth Ward, and see how it looked to the people who actually lived there.

The most exciting part about this project though, isn’t the finality that it shows us, exhilarating as it is for this part of the project to finally be reaching the finish line. The best part is the hints of beginnings we are beginning to see. Imagine this resource, but with descriptions of the buildings, or some sort of narrative text? These are ideas that have been tossed around in discussion of this resource. Whatever the continuation of this project may be, we are overjoyed that this leg of it is finally out there, and available for all to see.

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