Walking Tour App is Opening Eyes on the Upper West Side

Written by Alissa Fleck on . Posted in News West Side Spirit.


Landmark West aims to preserve and raise awareness of buildings in the neighborhood

Three years ago, the group developed a walking tour app for its 20th anniversary. However, the original app had some notable glitches and was only functional on former operating systems. Now, LW has partnered with Apple to create an upgraded, repackaged version that will work with current iPhone software.

Kelly Carroll of LW explains that the app works with Google Maps to create pins for selected locations — namely major landmarks between the low 70s and the low 80s on the West side. While providing a walking route that will allow users to come face-to-face with these landmarks, the app also provides a description, photos, landmark district information, scholarly information, “fun facts” and more. Carroll says the app is good for just about everybody, from students to tourists to the less mobile who still wish to have a closer look at the neighborhood.

“This app is best because it’s so versatile,” explains Carroll. “Anyone with a smartphone can use it.”

Landmark App_Verdi Squ_opt

Verdi Square is one landmark on the walking tour app; the W 72nd area is flooded with important landmarks.

The downloaded LW’s free walking tour app to give it a whirl. The comprehensive map of landmarks, running for about ten blocks and from Central Park West to Broadway, is highly user-friendly and provides at least several days’ worth of exploration with twenty or more pins. Some highlights include the Dakota Stables site, the Ansonia Hotel and the Horn & Hardart Automat. The automat’s description, for example, notes that the price for a famous cup of Frank Hardart’s coffee cost a nickel at the fast food joint for 38 years.

The best part of the walking tour is that it does not overwhelm the user with excessive information.

LW is hoping to extend the app’s parameters in the coming years. In 2015, LW will celebrate its 30th anniversary, in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of Landmark law and the 25th anniversary of the Central Park West historic district.

The West Side Spirit asked Carroll to explain how new technology — like smartphone apps — is being used to preserve old relics.

“The app does not necessarily protect or preserve,” says Carroll, “but it provides a broad smattering and gets people to use their eyes and know why a building is important and not there by accident. There are hard-fought and hard-won advocacy campaigns behind these buildings.”

Carroll says the group can’t provide specifics about what the future holds for them, but they are certainly in the planning stages for the next way to engage people. In the meantime, LW will be presenting its new and improved app at the Upper West Side Apple store on March 5th, but eager users can download the app now and follow the provided route or do their own meandering with the app as a digital tour guide.

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