@danepieri

Retrographer

Crowdsourcing the geotagging of Pittsburgh's historical photos

I created Retrographer to help residents strengthen their relationship with Pittsburgh by understanding its history on a precisely local level through photography.

After three years living in Pittsburgh I came to love the city's rich history, and the imprint of this history on the city's built environment today. Though I love all old photos, the ones I find most engaging are pictures taken of the streets and buildings I walk by every day.

Based on this insight I decided to build Retrographer; an effort to catalog all the historical photos of Pittsburgh geographically.

Context

Old photos are great, but seeing them from the same vantage 60 years later is 100 times more interesting.

View on Retrographer

Process

I worked with the Digital Research Library to get access to thousands of cataloged high resolution images from the Pittsburgh City Photographer Collection.

I built Retrographer.org from the ground up (Ruby On Rails, jQuery etc...) to host these images and allow anybody to geotag a photo if they know where it was taken.

So far over 5,000 photos have been tagged!

River Traffic

Still often a parking lot. View on Retrographer

Oakland Street Scene

View on Retrographer

Kroger Warehouse

No history books write about what used to be in an empty lot you come across, but with geotagged photos you can see for yourself how a block has changed. View on Retrographer