Old Meets New: ‘Historypin’ Is a Map-Based Time Capsule for Vintage Photos

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A few weeks ago our friends at NewsFeed dubbed Dear Photograph their “Tumblr of the Week” — and for good reason.

Its premise, like most good things, is incredibly simple: Someone snaps a modern-day photo in the exact place where a memorable photo had been taken years earlier. The images are then presented side by side.

The result is a trippy sort of nostalgia, one that speaks to a particular place’s history and the passage of time.

Today, the unveiling of an ambitious new site called Historypin takes the concept several steps further.

In a partnership with Google, from which it leverages maps and Street View imagery, Historypin allows users to upload vintage photographs to geographically “pinned” locations on a map. Those images are then laid on top of Google’s Street View and organized on a navigable timeline, dating all the way back to 1840 (when the first recorded photograph took place). Landmarks, street corners, or wherever else you can imagine can be given unimaginable layers of depth via their own past and present communities.

(PHOTOS: A Brief History of the Computer)

“A story [as told through Historypin] could bring people together within a family, within neighborhoods or across different cultural groups,” says Historypin CEO Nick Stanhope. “[It was] born out of some testing we’ve done with groups and communities. Our goal is to to replicate it all over the world.”

Though Historypin will crowdsource photographs from users everywhere, it’ll use a combination of user flagging and administrative moderation to cut down on spam or inappropriate uploads. If a user has an old photo that they’d like to submit, but don’t know the exact date or location it was taken, the photo can be approximated and further adjusted by the community. It’s a near picture-perfect definition of teamwork.

Historypin also has partnerships with over 100 museums and libraries with which to build its archive, and users are encouraged to submit their own heirlooms, or submit their own modern snapshots.

“A pin will always get more accurate,” says Stanhope, referring to Historypin’s emphasis on working together.

An accompanying Android app launched today, and an iOS version will be available for Apple devices soon. The mobile version allows users to sift through dropped pins and photos using their phone’s location, in addition to uploading their own on the go. Leave your mark and give it shot. Who knows? Maybe your grandkids will see it.

MORE: Need a Clock that Runs for 10,000 Years?

Chris Gayomali is a writer-reporter at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @chrigz. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.

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