British Columbia

Vancouver history on your phone: app shows city's look, then and now

If you want to explore the city with an app — that isn't Pokemon Go — Andrew Farris has some historic walking tours for you and your phone.

On This Spot app blends historic photos and the modern city to show how Vancouver has changed

A blended photo from the On This Spot app shows the Burrard Bridge from Fairview in 1933 (right) blended with today. (Andrew Farris)

Andrew Farris wants to make history real for people.

The UVic student is one of the creators of new app On This Spot that take users on walking tours of Vancouver.

When users get to certain points along that tour, they can use their phone to see historic photos taken at that location and even blend those photos with a cross-fader tool to compare how it looked back then with how it does today.

"I've always been very passionate about history and I've always wanted to share that passion with people," Farris told On The Coast's Alexander Kim.

"When you can make [history] a bit more real, it's sort of these collective stories of just everyone who has ever lived before us. They were just as real as you and me are today."

Through the app, users can see things like the devastation of the Great Fire of 1886 blended with the city's rapid development over recent decades.

The app has themed walking tours, including one of the aforementioned Great Fire, the Stanley Park seawall, and Japantown.

It also has over 600 photo locations, and creators say more are being added.

This blended photo from On This Spot shows a boy in Highlander outfit at the cenotaph for Japanese-Canadian soldiers killed in World War I in 1921 (right) and the cenotaph today. (Andrew Farris)

With files from CBC Radio One's On The Coast

To hear the full story, click the audio labelled: From the Great Fire to the Big City: app shows Vancouver's evolution with walking tours and historic photos