Nostalgia is a powerful thing, and if two new startups are any indication, there appears to be a growing market for reminiscing on the past. Recently a Cambridge startup, PIVOT, reached its Kickstarter goal for an interactive app that compiles pictures from around the globe of historic landmarks. Now, designer EJ Kalafarski, Presidential Innovation Fellow at the U.S. Labor Department, is looking to tap that same market with his app Déjŕ Vu.
Kalafarski’s app offers users historic photos in various cities throughout America, including Boston. The photos are “individually-curated” to ensure authenticity, which proved the “hardest part” for Kalafarski. “Compiling attitude data on the photographs—longitude and latitude, specific locations—was the most difficult part. Whether that meant using Google Street View or going to the spot myself, it was a challenge,” Kalafarski told BostInno. One of the more innovative features is the use of the GPS on the iPhone to find the exact location of where the original photographer stood. The app also incorporates the phone’s gyroscope to allow users to rotate photos and compare the past to the present.
Boston is well known for its vibrant history, and features some timeless landmarks, which the app aims to showcase. Kalafarski himself is from Massachusetts and lived in the North End for some time. “Boston was my first city experience,” Kalafarski said, “and I knew that I wanted to include it in my project.” Originally Déjŕ Vu only featured pictures from New York City, but it has recently expanded to include Boston and Washington, D.C. Access to the pictures in the app costs $1.99, per city.
Pictures from Newbury Street, Faneuil Hall and Harvard University are some of the highlights from the Boston section of the app. Kalafarski has tailored Déjŕ Vu to tourists and “history buffs” but believes it could benefit locals too. “I think the best way to understand a current city is to understand where it came from,” Kalafarski said. Aside from self-guided tours or history projects, Déjŕ Vu provides an interesting view of the history of Boston and can connect locals more intimately with the city.
“In Boston, more than the other cities, the original stuff is still preserved,” Kalafarski said. “I think that Bostonians are aware of their city.”