Scheduled Maintenance

During the weekend of September 29, Historypin will be undergoing a database migration, so there may be periods of time over the weekend that the site will be available only in read-only mode.  This will prohibit any uploads during those times. Maintenance is scheduled to be completed no later than Monday morning (GMT), October 1.

We thank you for your patience while we make Historypin better!

Lincoln Way Viaduct being built, 1948, from the Massillon Museum.

Filming on Campus in the 1900’s, Family History, and West Side Story in Hell’s Kitchen

Happy Friday to everyone! Here are some of my favourites from this week:

Pin of the Week

Street View, Movie Camera in Memorial Court, 1914-1918.

One of my favourite Street Views this week comes from The Stanford University Archives, of an early movie camera shoot on the University grounds. This fantastic angle utilizes Google’s recent project to Street View university campuses, with Stanford being among the first.

Movie Camera in Memorial Court, 1914-1918.

This is a wonderful snapshot of early film history, as well as campus life. In the early 20th century, film was only getting on its feet with the more wide-spread distribution of silents in Hollywood; it is great to see a candid from this era of film in a more localized setting in Stanford. These are the origins of the student television crews reporting campus life today, and the digital-camera-wielding parents whose sons and daughters reluctantly let them film their university visit. We also get a sense of how much has changed with the wonderful WWI-era fashions, especially on the boy standing next to the early movie camera. These outfits are certainly fancier than the average shorts and t-shirt-wearing California students today!

To see more photos like these, visit The Stanford Archive’s Channel.

Pinner of the Week

Paddling, 1927-1931.

Pinner of the Week is user KateMasheder, who has pinned some fantastic stories and photos of her English and Irish ancestors. As someone who can hardly find family photos dating before 1950, KateMasheder’s photos are a treasure-trove of family history. From her grandparents on picnics in the 1920’s to her great-grandfather’s shopfront in London’s East End, she charts over a century of her family’s story. In addition, she has pinned many interesting photos of unknown people and places spanning the same time period.

KateMasheder also asks the rest of the Historypin community to engage in these histories, asking for some help in solving some family mysteries. For example, she asks if anyone knows the precise location her grandmother’s childhood home near Martinstown, Northern Ireland (below), and whether or not it still exists. I love when users ask one another to become history detectives; in utilizing the entire Historypin community, you never know who might be out there with an answer!

Lisbreen Cottage, County Antrim, 1885 - 1915. Click the photo if you think you know the modern-day location...

Browse her Channel here.

Story of the Week

West Side Story promotional shoot, New York City, 1957. (Friedman-Abeles Collection/NYPL)

This past Wednesday marked the 55th anniversary of the Broadway opening of West Side Story, conceived by choreographer Jerome Robbins, written by playwright Arthur Laurents and composed by Leonard Bernstein. Originally entitled East Side Story and centering around Jewish and Catholic star-crossed lovers, the final production developed into how we know it today: a tale of love across the divide of two street gangs, one Latin and one white-ethnic. The change in story also brought about a new-up-and-coming lyricist, the now legendary Stephen Sondheim, who enlisted the help of Broadway producer Hal Prince to help save the controversial show. It eventually opened at the Winter Garden Theatre on September 26, 1957.

The musical’s iconic promotional shot, made for the original cast album cover, shows Tony (Larry Kert) playfully chasing after his girlfriend Maria (Carol Lawrence), on a block of four-and five-story tenement buildings; this area, in New York City’s Hell’s Kitchen, is similar to the one in which Maria might have called home in the musical, set in the mid-1950’s. Photographer by Leo Friedman, who captured some of Broadway’s greatest hits over the course of his career, tried various locations for this shoot. “We shot for days,” recalls Lawrence. “All around Central Parkóup and down staircases, jumping through greenery. Everything.”

West 56th Street today.(click for larger)

The eventual West Side location, just a few blocks from Friedman’s studio, allowed the photographer to contrast the gritty neighborhood with the boundless optimism of the young lovers. Lawrence further recalls the marathon-like day: “Leo may remember it as an easy shot because he was standing still, but we must have run up and down that street 300 times on a very hot summer day,” she says with a laugh. “We didn’t have any police help, so there were pedestrians going by. We even knocked down a little old lady and got yelled at. I was a dancer and Larry was an athlete, so we were in good shape. But we were in better shape after that picture.”

Getting Back into the 1951 Spirit

The Dome of Discovery and the Skylon, 1952

As this summer’s Southbank Festival of the World in London demonstrated, the area that once encompassed 1951’s Festival of Britain is continuing its traditional role as a world exhibition site.

The Festival of Britain aimed to raise the nation’s spirits and promote the rebuilding of areas still left in ruin after the devastation of World War II. It was held on the centenary of the 1851 Great Exhibition under the reign of Queen Victoria, and like this pioneer of world’s fairs the 1951 event promoted the very best of British design, industry, and art to a world audience. As someone borderline obsessed with the history of the Great Exhibition, I love seeing photos and reading the history of festivals and events that continue its legacy.

The Southbank Exhibition and the Battersea Pleasure Gardens were the Festival of Britain’s main showpieces, and both officially opened on May 3rd, 1951. As with many great world’s fairs and exhibitions however, many of the original buildings from the Festival of Britain were demolished after it ended; today only Royal Festival Hall remains.

Festival Pleasure Gardens, Battersea Park, 1951.

King George VI and his family visiting the Southbank Exhibition, 1951.

Historypin contributor Ben Brooksbank was there in 1951 and took photos of the construction of the festival buildings, as well as the crowds enjoying the grounds after they had opened. His carefully-labeled photographs not only provide a great historical resource, but also a wonderful personal record of this 1951 world’s fair. Here are some below:

Power and Production Pavilion and County Hall, 1951.

Constructing Battersea Park Festival Pleasure Gardens, April 1951.

Royal Festival Hall and the Shot Tower from Waterloo Bridge, February 1951.

Interior of the Unicorn Restaurant in the 'Lion and Unicorn' Pavilion, Southbank Festival, 1951.

Check out more Festival of Britain photos from Ben and other contributors here on Historypin map, as well as a short Tour of the Festival that we have created.

One of the high-flying attractions on the Southbank as the Festival spirit continued this summer

Do you or your family have any photo memories from the Festival of Britain or the current Festival of the World? Tweet or Facebook us what you’ve pinned to the map!

Hitting the Streets with the SFMTA Photo Archives

This past weekend, I had the great pleasure of tagging along with Heather Moran of the SFMTA Photo Archives, who had been invited to join Jessica Justino at the Cole Valley Fair in San Francisco. Jessica has been curating collections of historical photos at the fair for ten years, and this year, the Municipal Transit Authority’s (aka MUNI) Centennial, she was highlighting the history of transit in the neighborhood.  Heather was showcasing some of the “Treasures from the Muni Archives”, which document not only public transit history, but also many fascinating scenes of everyday life in San Francisco.

I joined for a couple hours, helping to hand out postcards, but keeping an ear out for the fascinating stories of local history that can only be gathered in the unique setting of conversation from one person to another.  As archivists and librarians know, historical photos of an area never fail to draw a good crowd full of lively reminiscing, story telling, and memory sharing.

I met one woman who was thrilled to have spotted her own house in the then/now poster that Heather had made of the neighborhood, and she had always wondered what the streets on her block looked like before there were garages.  This made for a fun quiz for onlooking kids as they examined the two pictures and said, “those ones haven’t changed at all!”  Looking a little closer, they could pick out the differences, seeing how facades had changes, overhead wires had been added or removed, and how garages were added later.

This is exactly why we’ve built Historypin–so you can help capture the photos, stories, and memories of your local area, and even coordinate with your local library, archive or historical society to help share and preserve the unique history of your community!

Small Town Hotels, Australia’s Sesquicentenary and Abraham Lincoln without his hat.

We have some cracking content this week including a great image of Sydney Harbour lit up by fireworks, President Abraham Lincoln without a hat and some brilliant photos of early 20th Century Sasketchewan hotels.

Pinner of the Week

This Week we are celebrating Joan Champ and her brilliant Channel. Joan has been traveling around Sasketchewan Province collecting photos of old small town hotels many dating from the 19th Century and has added detailed stories to many of them giving a fascinating insight into the history of the buildings and the area. Most of the hotels still exist in various forms and have been brilliantly street-viewed.

North West Hotel, Ceylon, Sk 1912

Story Of The Week

Part of 12 photos pinned by the State Library of New South Wales showing Sydney celebrating Australia’s Sesquicentenary in 1938. Australia celebrated 150 years since the first British settlement in Australia with a city Parade, a re-enactment of Cook arriving at Kurnell, fireworks, and a military procession. The sesquicentenary also coincided with the Empire Games in Sydney; an event created in 1930 and which would later become the Commonwealth Games. The games included athletes from across the Empire and the Commonwealth. See the photo on on the map here.

Fireworks on Sydney Harbour, 1938

Photo Of The Week

A fantastic photo from the Library of Congress pinned by Kerri Young of President Abraham Lincoln and Gen. George B. McClellan in the general’s tent at Antietam, Maryland, October 3, 1862. Lincoln’s famous hat although not on his head can be seen on the table next to him. The photograph was taken three weeks after the battle of Antietam, which would become known as the bloodiest battle in American history.

Lincoln and McClellan at Antietam, 1862



Hi, my name is Nicky Johnston and I am a Historypin novice. While interning for We Are What We Do I have been unleashed on Historypin with a fairly simple task: “Go. Use. Tell us if it doesn’t make any sense…”  To be honest, the website bit was easy.  Instead I was faced with a much more pressing issue, have I actually done anything worth pinning?  I’m only 21.  Sure, I’ve travelled and done all the things you’d expect from a normal British childhood.  But do I deserve to be part of history?

As a final year student my next big moment is graduation.  So, hoping for inspiration I searched for graduation and university and came across this;

Freshmen leaving the Florida Gym, 1962, UF VLT

Florida University 1962

Apart from significantly less hoodies, uggs and iPhones, they were remarkably recognisable as my fellow students.  The group of ‘lads’ swaggering out in the centre.  Girls with notes stuffed into handbags, gossiping in pairs.  A group clustered around the door to question the professor on the day’s lesson.  And so, I deemed this pin-able;

Mini House @ Toga D, March 2010, nicky.johnston

University of York 2010

One day people may say “Why are they wearing bed sheets for clothes?” or “Wow, they’re hairstyles were so new-millenium!” (I sincerely hope fashion has changed to the point where our outfits are unrecognisable as clothing.)  Yet, to the University of Florida’s class of 1960-something we’re probably easily recognisable.  A group of friends, housemates, just having fun before heading back to classes on monday morning.

After all, things haven’t changed too much…

Saturday Night Fever, 18 June 1978, AndyT

University of York 1978


Favourite Photo Memories

Running the bases at 3Com Park, 1997.

I would like to share one of my favorite photo memories from my family photo albums, of my younger sister and I running the bases at Candlestick Park (then 3Com Park). ‘The Stick,’ with its unmistakable bright orange bleachers, was the former home of the San Francisco Giants, and my Dad would take my sister Maile and I to baseball games there when we were little. We always brought our baseball gloves, hoping to catch foul balls, and I remember cheering for Barry Bonds because he was left-handed like me.

Every Sunday after a baseball game they would let children twelve and under go out onto the field and run around the bases one time (I remember them being really strict about the ‘one time’ bit). This was the first time my sister and I did this together, and I still remember how great it was to be able to step onto the field where the greats had just played. We ran as fast as we could, and it was over before we knew it. In the photo we are also wearing the Giants t-shirts they gave away to fans that day. Tailor-made sleep-shirts for us! I’m also wearing my favorite Nike sandals that I wore everywhere, and those clear hair-clips that used to be cool in the 90’s.

I recruited my sister to help me look through old photo albums at our home in San Francisco via Skype, and we ended up having a three-hour virtual reminiscing-session over the many photos she found. The best part was that we decided together that this base-running photo was our favourite, despite being separated by an entire country and ocean. Thanks to the miracle of technology, it was as if I was right there in our living room in San Francisco looking through these photo-memories with her. My sister subsequently scanned the photo she found, sent it to me, and I pinned it on Historypin.

This photo, and others we found like it, certainly make me grateful for all the wonderful memories I have had with my family over the years. Though we are now too old to run the bases, hopefully one day my sister and I will be able to return to the baseball field after a Sunday game and let our kids do the same.

I encourage everyone out there to collaborate with friends and family too, and contribute your own special memories on Historypin.

A Soldiers Journey, Victorian Furniture Sellers and some Beach Acrobatics

Pinner Of The Week

This Friday our Pinner Of The Week goes to A Soldier’s Journey: M.J. Songstad in World War II. A great channel dedicated to the experiences of Mel Songstad during the Second World War. Born in Minneapolis Mel was drafted into the US army in 1942 and by 1943 was training to become a Paratrooper. As part of the 50th Parachute Regiment he took part in the Normandy landings and when injured spent time in England returning to France in 1945 to take part in its liberation.

The Channel focuses on his time during the 1940’s in Europe showing some of the places he visited and some of the men he fought along side. It’s a poignant personal history from an extraordinary time.

Melvin J. Songstad 1945

Story Of The Week

Our favorite story this week comes from LSE Library and accompanies a great picture of some Victorian furniture sellers on the corner of Church Lane in Holborn. The story comes from ‘Street Life in London’ by John Thompson and Adolphi Smith, published in 1877 and it conjures up a vivid picture of this part of Victorian London and the people who presided in it. See the photo on the Historypin map and the full story behind it here.

“At the corner of Church Lane, Holborn, there was a second-hand furniture dealer, whose business was a cross between that of a shop and a street stall. The dealer was never satisfied unless the weather allowed him to disgorge nearly the whole of his stock into the middle of the street, a method which alone secured the approval and custom of his neighbours. As a matter of fact, the inhabitants of Church Lane were nearly all what I may term “street folks” – living, buying, selling, transacting all their business in the open street. It was a celebrated resort for tramps and costers of every description, men and women who hawk during the day and evening the flowers, fruits and vegetables they buy in the morning at Covent Garden.’

Furniture Sellers on Church St 1877

 Photos Of The Week

This week we have Mr J. Prentice and Jean Howat practising some beach acrobatics on Bondi Beach, Australia in 1935. The photos were pinned by the State Library of new South Wales. I love these two photos which you can check out on the map here. They look like they are having so much fun and I particularly like the boys in the background who are staring at the couple in disbelief.

Beach Acrobatics, Bondi Beach, 1935


Beach Acrobatics, Bondi Beach, 1935



Shanghai in the 1940’s

Shanghai Harbour 1946

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln Libraries have been pinning some remarkable photos of Shanghai in the 1940’s. The photos come from Aurthur Smith who studied medicine at Lincoln Nebraska and after serving military service in the Far East returned to UNL to practice medicine. These amazing photos were donated by his family in the 1990’s. Photos from this period where China was a republic but not yet a communist state are really rare and the photos are a fascinating snapshot of a modern and vibrant city in a country going through a huge transition.

Shanghai Street Scene 1946

After 50 years of civil war and a series of wars with Japan, China became a Republic in 1912. This was not a smooth transition and over 40 million people died or were killed from the 1850’s to the 1950’s. It wasn’t until 1949 that China became a communist state and China regained a level of political stability. The photos from the University of Nebraska Lincoln-LIbrary were taken during the Second World War when soldiers from Europe and America were stationed in China to help fight the Japanese. During the cultural revolution of the 1960’s much of the archive that documents this period was destroyed or went missing, meaning that even small archives of photographs from the 30’s and 40’s in China have become remarkably rare.

Traffic in Shanghai 1946

Olympic Memories

Bill Plester carrying the 1948 Olympic Torch

The Olympics may have come to a close, but we wanted to remind everyone that you can keep adding to our Olympic Collection. Whether they are your own memories or those from your family or community, we would love to see them!

We have just received some wonderful contributions from Steve Plester, son of 1948 Olympic torch-bearer Bill Plester. Steve pinned photos of his Dad, then a 21-year old athlete from Basingstoke, England, carrying the Olympic torch through his hometown. After the Opening Ceremony at Wembley Stadium in London, the flame made its way out onto the English streets again on a second journey to the coast at Torquay; Bill was one of the lucky ones chosen to for this task. The photos suggest a great atmosphere, with large crowds of local Basingstoke residents coming out to support him. We are lucky to have a family member contribute this wonderful memory to our Olympic Collection!

If you have a cherished memory from the Olympics or Paralympics past or present, add them here.

Bill Plester passing on the flame in Basingstoke on August 1, 1948.