iPhone App To Showcase Upper West Side History
By Leslie Albrecht
UPPER WEST SIDE — There's nothing like technology to make history come alive. That's the thinking behind plans to create an iPhone app walking tour of the Upper West Side.
A preservationist group, Landmark West!, is developing the smartphone application, which they believe will be the first of its kind devoted to the Upper West Side.
"We've been looking for ways to embrace technology to spread our message as broadly as possible," said Cristiana Peña, director of community outreach for Landmark West!
The group is also using technology to raise the money they'll need to create the iPhone app. Instead of hitting up its usual donor list for contributions, Landmark West! posted the iPhone app project on Kickstarter, a website that collects donations for creative projects.
Landmark West! wants to raise $3,000 by Sept. 21. The money will pay for professional software developers to create the app.
The group plans to use the voice of preservationist and Columbia University professor Andrew Dolkart for the iPhone app, which will guide users along Central Park West to such sites as The Dakota and the New York Historical Society.
Landmark West! is a 25-year-old nonprofit dedicated to the preservation of the Upper West Side's historic buildings. The group recently led an effort to make West Park Presbyterian Church at West 86th Street and Amsterdam Avenue an official landmark.
The group also hosts lectures and school programs to educate people about the Upper West Side's architectural heritage. The iPhone app will help them reach a much wider audience, Peña said.
Traditional walking tours reach 20 or 30 people at a time, while an iPhone app — easily purchased with the touch of a button — can reach anyone who's walking along and gets curious about a building they see, Peña said.
Dolkart, who helped found Landmark West!, leads regular walking tours that are popular with history lovers, she added.
"I'm sure people will like the idea of having Andrew Dolkart in your pocket whenever you want to learn about a building," Peña said.