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New Mobile App Pinpoints New York City Landmarks

By DNAinfo Staff on December 21, 2010 7:13am

By Tara Kyle

DNAinfo Reporter/Producer

MANHATTAN — Nobody misses Grand Central Station, but many of the city's 1,300 landmarked schools, cemeteries, churches and synagogues are easily overlooked — and the developer of one new mobile application hopes to change that.

Walk down any street in TriBeCa or Harlem, Jackson Heights or Bay Ridge, and the new "Landmarks: New York" application lets you identify which landmarked buildings or structures lie within a given radius.

Developer and longtime Chelsea resident Steven Romalewski drew on his expertise as the director of CUNY's Mapping Service to create the application, which he believes is the first of its kind.

"There are tourist applications that purport to include landmarks information, but they just hit the high notes. They'll have the Empire State Building or the Statue of Liberty," said Romalewski, who is 48. "There's a lot more to New York City landmarks than people realize."

Users can search the data, culled from 45 years of Landmarks Preservation Commission records, in four ways. The "Nearby" function allows them to use GPS technology to find a list of landmarks within a quarter or half mile from their present location. Landmarks are also searchable by name, neighborhood or street address.

The $1.99 application is now available for Palm Pre, with an iPhone release slated for January. A free version, which only provides data by neighborhood or landmark name, has been downloaded by over 900 people since its November launch.

For Romalewski, who had no prior programming experience, creating the application has been an evening and weekend pursuit for nearly half a year. He also blogs about the work, has released a San Francisco version, and plans to roll out editions for Portland, Boston and Chicago in the coming months.

Preservationists, architects and urban planning students are a natural consumer base for the application, but he also hopes to reach tourists searching for a more in-depth glimpse into the city's history.

"I think people are also interesting in uncovering those little jewels that are undiscovered," Romalewski said. "I hope that my little application will help them do this."