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Historypin puts the past on the map with Google Street View

Historypin pins old-timey photosnaps to Google Street View, transforming the folks from history, with their funny hats and moustaches, into living people linking us with our past

Crave spends most of its time looking to the future, to smaller gadgets, faster doohickeys and higher-specced whatjermacallits. Historypin, by contrast, uses cutting-edge technology to give us a fascinating glimpse into the past, placing old photos on to Google Street View.

Historypin aims to build an archive of photos from across the generations, showing the shifting tapestry of world history at street level, in the faces of the people who lived it. You can submit your own photos, and place them on the map with the story behind the snap.

The project is developed in partnership with Google by We Are What We Do, a charity project that encourages people to perform small good works such as refusing plastic bags and turning off taps.


There are plenty of pictures already on the map to explore, from the Mirror Group's news archive to snaps from the drawers of Selfridges, Marks & Spencer and Arsenal FC. Locations range from London to Biggleswade, from 1940s Coventry to 19th century Sydney.

Our pictures show a sailor celebrating the end of the Seond World War in Times Square (top), the 1948 Olympic torch passing through Dover (above), Churchill's funeral leaving St Paul's Cathedral (below), and a banker banking at Bank (bottom).


To get involved, you'll need a Google account. You can search for subjects or by area, or just dive into the map and see nearby pictures. Photos often have a story, and you can comment and save pictures to your favourites. Most photos can be viewed over Street View, overlaying the old-timey images on the modern-day view. A slider lets you specify a date range from 1840 to the present day.


Historypin adds an extra, seductive dimension to the already addictive Street View experience. Even the most mundane monochrome street scene comes to life when transposed with the surroundings we take for granted, turning the crinoline-wearing, moustachioed folk in the pictures into real people. We go to the shops and chat with our friends and smile for photos and so did they, even when they spend their time wearing funny hats and clearing rubble out of the streets.

For a similar, real-world experience as you pound the pavements of London with your iPhone, the British Museum recently launched Streetmuseum, an augmented-reality app.