by Giles Turnbull
"Cities are full of noise and scuffle, and they don’t always reveal their history. Armed with a fistful of maps from 1901, and a smartphone bristling with data-recording apps, one man tries to uncover a city’s secrets.
The modern explorer has it all. Every gadget you can think of combined into a pocket-sized smartphone. There’s no need to be lost, or lonely, anywhere. Ever. Unless we explore with our eyes closed, figuratively speaking.
I like that idea, though. Exploring with my eyes closed. I want to try it. For help, I’ve turned to a man called Alan Godfrey, an unsung hero of modern England. Mr. Godfrey owns a small publishing company.
From an office in the little town of Consett in the northeast, Mr. Godfrey republishes old maps of towns and villages of England. These maps are sold at the bargain price of £2.50 each, so cheap you can subscribe to have them delivered to you every month, probably for less than the price of a newspaper. Armed with one, you can reexamine your surroundings to see what remains and what has gone. You can read the fascinating notes Mr. Godfrey or his associates have written on the reverse. You can explore time and space simultaneously, for less than the price of a pint of English beer, then fold up space-time and put it in your pocket.
I am in Bristol, England’s sixth largest city. In my hands I hold a selection of Godfrey’s marvelous maps, dated 1901. Whole chunks of the 1901 city have gone, destroyed by war and progress. But larger chunks of undisturbed history remain.
My plan is to roam with my maps and a smartphone, noticing as much as I can. I’m going to notice the hell out of things. I’m going to immerse myself in the detail of the city, and attempt to mirror Godfrey’s historical details with modern data-details of my own.
Eleven Fifteen A.M.
This is the center of Bristol. It is 19 degrees centigrade. There are no buses here. There are no bikes here. I can see eight strollers, and many shops. Battery level on my iPhone is 87 percent. My phone is loaded with extra apps today, for the purposes of data collection—to record my route, measure the environment, and capture the scenery...."
long & worth the read...