Albany history, in an app

Tour Albany app screenshots

Screenshots from the app.

Driving through downtown Albany on weekends, Susan Holland has noticed groups of people looking up at the buildings. And as the executive director of the Historic Albany Foundation, she has plenty she could share with them about the history of what they're looking at.

But: "I would look like a freak if I stopped my car and was like, 'Do you want to know about this?'"

Now there's a different option: A new mobile app called Tour Albany that pulls together a bunch of historical info about Albany including maps, building histories, walking tours, and podcasts.

The app is a collaboration between Samantha Toews of Columbia Development and the Historic Albany Foundation.

"I think it's a way for people to access what's in our heads -- the historians and the people who do this everyday," Holland said this week of the app.

Historic Albany already has a series of popular history walking tours and talks. But Holland said she sees a future in which the app and other tools like it end up being a source of local history information for a wider range of people, both locals and visitors. And if it works as a gateway for more people to become local history nerds, then that's good for HAF's programs, too.

Using the app a little bit this week, the feature we most enjoyed was the one that, using the mobile phone's GPS, can tell you which historic buildings are within proximity of where you're standing, along with backstories on the buildings.

There are also geographic listings of National Register of Historic Places and Landmarks, along with city historic districts. Those lists sit alongside walking tour info, and a few podcasts. And more content will be added over time.

Tour Albany was backed by a grant from Capitalize Albany's Amplify Albany Grant Program, along with Renaissance Albany Hotel, Albany County Convention and Visitors Bureau Foundation, and Hudson River Valley Greenway.

It's available for both iOS and Android. It's free to download.

Earlier: Albany: Then and Now app


Ha, I actually HAVE accosted people I've spotted wandering around looking at buildings or plaques downtown. They're usually caught by surprise, but really appreciate it when I share what I know or direct them to the Friends of Albany History on Facebook.


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