Guest Post: Local Bay Area Photographer Lynne Buckner Shares Her Bayview/Hunter’s Point Story For Year of the Bay

An abandoned home in Hunter's Point Shipyard in San Francisco, 2004. Photo by Lynne Buckner.

We’re excited to share this great contribution from local Bay Area photographer Lynne Buckner, part of our Year of the Bay project. Lynne, a resident of the Bernal Heights neighborhood in San Francisco, pinned her photos and story of visiting the now ghost-like Hunter’s Point shipyard in San Francisco, once a commercial shipyard established in the 1870s and subsequently a naval base. The now desolate area, on the shores of the San Francisco Bay, is currently in the midst of a large redevelopment plan that will ultimately include up to 1,600 homes, 27% to 40% of which will be affordable, and 26 acres of open space. In 2004, Lynne created a set of photos of all the the shipyard houses front and back, as well as some interiors of the houses that were torn down to create the new housing area in what is known as parcel A.

Abandoned Japanese-style house on Innes St., Parcel A, 2004. Photo by Lynne Buckner.

She shares her experience here:

“In 2004 I was taking photo classes at CCSF. I was attracted to ghost towns and abandoned buildings and cabins and was looking for something I could photograph without traveling to the desert. I ended up in the industrial areas of Bayview Hunters Point. I really loved Hunters Point Shipyard, and used to go early on weekend mornings saying I was visiting an artist friend who had a studio. I would then drive around and photograph the buildings of the shipyard.  After being busted one too many times, I went to Lennar Corporation and asked permission. They granted me permission to photograph in “parcel A”, an abandoned neighborhood on a hill that I had no idea existed.  There was some talk of Lennar buying the photographs but that never worked out because I was developing and printing the pictures myself and the price seemed too high to them and too low to me. I was just happy to have my own private ghost town to wander around in when I pleased. I spent as much time there as I could and really felt that I was preserving a bit of overlooked San Francisco history.

Interior of a Natoma St. house, 2004. Photo by Lynne Buckner.

Rail lines to Hunter's Point Shipyard, 2003. Photo by Lynne Buckner.

I was devastated when, after a few months, the neighborhood was demolished. It was very disturbing that efforts to salvage building materials and antique fixtures appeared to be minimal. I was grateful to have salvaged some light fixtures, road signs, knobs, 2 sinks and a medicine cabinet some of which I have in my remodeled bathroom.  The demolition of this local ghost town seemed an apt metaphor for what was happening to the analog photography I was doing and, more broadly my life as a woman over 50.

As the years have passed, my pass to enter the Shipyard was stolen out of my car and I now go only twice a year when the Shipyard is open for Open Studios.  I walk up to the housing site late in the day and photograph the progress on the new housing project. On a recent photo trip, I noted that building has started on what looks like townhouses or an apartment buildings. I’m hoping that someday the new inhabitants will be interested in what their neighborhood once looked like and enjoy imagining their link to the history of the area.”

——

All of Lynne’s photos were developed in her own darkroom, and we are happy that they have traveled from the darkroom onto Historypin. This is a nice snapshot into how one person experiences the life on the rapidly changing Bay waterfront, and a great addition to our Year of the Bay archive.

Explore more of Lynne’s photo pins on her Channel. If you’d like to contribute a guest piece to our blog about your experience around the San Francisco Bay, contact Kerri at kerri.young@wearewhatwedo.org.

Bay Area Resident José Vadi Shares His Father’s Memories of a East Harlem Home Now Lost.

Firefighters from FDNY help to contain the building collapse at Park Avenue in East Harlem, March 12, 2014. Photo from FDNY.

Around 9:30 am on March 12, 2014, two buildings once standing by 116th Street and Park Avenue in New York City’s East Harlem neighborhood were gone, leveled by an explosion from an apparent gas leak. Residents of East Harlem, also called Spanish Harlem and El Barrio, are still mourning the blast that killed 8 and injured over 50, and several community efforts continue to help rebuild the local neighborhood and help those affected.

In the wake of this tragedy comes this insightful guest blog from José Vadi, a writer and performer based in Oakland, CA and founder of the youth storytelling Off/Page Project. Before the collapse, José took the opportunity to capture his father on film revisiting his old East Harlem apartment—one of the buildings lost to the gas explosion. José kindly shared this family memory with us and pinned the video to his Channel, giving his story an even greater sense of place and the change the neighborhood has undergone. Here is what José had to say about sharing his father’s memories on Historypin:

I think it’s important to visualize the before and after of our city’s architectural landscape, especially after such tragic events as those that happened this month in East Harlem. It also helps recognize Uptown’s position in the context of Manhattan and New York at large, and how that sense of feeling removed and alone permeates my father’s memory of a building so filled with life, its underbelly, and the people who comprise its day to day.

The video on (a still yet-to-be-updated) Street View for some perspective of what the street and building looked like right before the collapse (click to view on Historypin).

Below is José’s story behind his bid to revisit the past with his father, an insightful piece called What Happens After a Collapse (also posted on Colorlines)?:

On March 12, 2014, my father forwarded a New York Times article with the headline “At Least 2 Killed in East Harlem Building Collapse.” A brief note from my Dad followed:

Dear Friends, This is the building where I grew up until I was 22 years old (1646 Park Avenue, apartment 7). If those walls could speak! They would tell a tale of immense suffering with small periods of joy.

Growing up, my sister and I heard stories about East Harlem every day from our dad. Tales of unscrupulous landlords. Our abusive grandfather. Stories of newly arrived Puerto Rican squatters filling his apartment to the brim, toiling in the family-owned bodega and the years it stole from my grandmother. My father would describe coughing up soot in the morning, filling shoe soles with cardboard, fighting Italian gangs on the way to school, and singing du-wop in his school hallways. For these reasons, I always associated New York as a place to overcome and leave, instead of a place to live and settle.

I read the article on my phone riding on BART between Oakland and San Francisco and was shocked to hear about the explosion and subsequent collapse of 1644 and 1646 Park Avenue, two neighboring tenements off 116th Street that shared an eastern view with the elevated Metro North line. To date, eight people have died despite rescue efforts to find trapped and missing residents. But in the context of what I know about my father’s life, this was the last of many remaining threads connecting him to the neighborhood he calls home, slowly eroding with every passing year.

I called my dad that night from the kitchen table in my studio apartment. As my elbows rested on the faux wood grain, I remembered my father earned his undergraduate diploma from CCNY – the “poor man’s Harvard” —using an ironing board for a desk until the age of 22. I asked him how he felt about hearing the news. He breathed a heavy sigh. “First, the neighborhood went away – La Marketa’s no longer there, 125th Street’s a mall, the people are all gone. Now, my building’s collapsed. I really don’t have a home anymore. I have no connection to my city anymore, my neighborhood. I’m totally uprooted.”

A photo of José's father with his ironing board, which he used as a desk until the age of 22. This photo was taken at José's grandmother's old house in Aguada, Puerto Rico a few years ago by family friend Daniel Perez.

In February 2010, my father, who lives in Los Angeles, went to New York for the first time since the early ’80s to participate in a lifetime achievement ceremony for East Harlem community activist Rev. Norman Eddy. Rev. Eddy hired my father at the age of 18 to be the director of housing relocation for the Metro North Citizens’ Committee. The program worked heavily along 100th Street, temporarily relocating tenants so that their homes could be refurbished while maintaining their original exteriors. This was Eddy’s attempt to prevent the community plight and disruption currently associated with gentrification and rising rents. His plan lead to cooperative ownership of buildings among tenants, to them having a stake of ownership within their East Harlem community.

Before the collapse, I wanted to document the stories I heard growing up as a kid, no matter how painful for my dad or myself. The goal was to visit 1646 Park Avenue, Apartment 7. I borrowed a FlipCam from my friend, and asked another to film my Dad and me together in his old neighborhood, for the first time. It snowed that day. Still, my father’s pace quickened as he walked across his former neighborhood pointing out where along La Marketa previously existed; his technique for selling shopping bags to patrons for five cents; the high school formerly named after Benjamin Franklin where my father trained for the Millrose Games; where he ran laps inside the hallways during the winter. He showed me the top of the subway stairs where he and his brother would fist fight with the other shoe shine boys, desperate to catch a customer. My pops noted the racial divides by block between Puerto Ricans and Italians along 3rd Avenue and the sewer caps on 117th Street that served as a stickball diamond for their ragtag neighborhood gang. I knew if I ever had the opportunity to walk alongside my dad down the streets where he grew up, I’d go along. I wanted to feel as close as possible to the trajectory that somehow lead to my own existence, starting at its root: 116 and Park.

The fragility of human life was apparent for quite tragic reasons after the collapse, yet I was grateful to have taken the opportunity to have filmed my father in a place he once called home. I wonder now if any of those whose lives were taken last week were living in the building while we were filming; if their stories could have been told to preserve, to share what went untold in homes whose exteriors never truly represent what’s held inside.

When a building falls, do those stories ever die?

I wonder whether Eddy’s plans of cooperative, resident-owned housing would fly in today’s New York economy. I wonder how you preserve a bruise while healing from the original blow? And what of those few moments of joy my father described, how do they shine through a building that to my father’s recollection is a recurring travel through a thorn-lined Babel? And of whatever walls are built in the wake of these building’s collapse, I wonder if future generations will know their true history and who laid the first foundation of East Harlem.

Introducing East at Main Street

With the East at Main Street project, you can learn more about the historic places and cultural resources that have played a central role to Asian and Pacific Islander American communities throughout the United States, and find out how you and your community can add places to the map as well.

Below, you’ll find some short video tutorials to get you started, and we’ve also made available a helpful Getting Started Guide (pdf).

This project has been made possible by the Asian & Pacific Islander Americans in Historic Preservation Network, the National Center for Preservation Technology and Training, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and Donna Graves and Michelle Magalong.

Project Officers Max and Kerri go to the 2014 National Council on Public History

Check-in table at the Monterey Conference Center in Monterey, CA.

Hello from Max Baumgarten and Kerri Young, Project Officers at Historypin, here to tell you about our experience at the 2014 National Council on Public History conference in Monterey, California last week:

This year’s National Council on Public History conference was held in Monterey, California, which lucky for us, is only a two-hour drive from the Historypin office in San Francisco. Taking a day-long road trip from San Francisco to Monterey gave us the opportunity to drive along the Pacific Coast Highway, snack on salt water taffy, and, of course, learn about some new and exciting developments and projects in the field of public history.

Touristy shops near the activities at the Monterey Conference Center.

With projects like Sourdough & Rye, Year of the Bay, Europeana 1989, Historypin is constantly trying to engage with history in an effort to cultivate communities and create local connections. This year’s NCPH conference—with its theme of Sustainable Public History—was the ideal place to learn about other projects with similar goals. That is, the desire to preserve historical resources while still aiming to meet the needs of the present and future.

Cover of this year's NCPH program.

Some fun activities we engaged in included some speed networking, a panel exploring the teaching of sustainability through digital Los Angeles, talking with local history vendors in the exhibit hall, and attending a panel on an oral history endeavor here in the Bay Area from the National Park Service and UC Berkeley’s Regional Oral History Office (ROHO).

The panel Crowdsourcing and Public History: Reports from the Field was particularly insightful. Anthea Hartig of the California Historical Society talked about their collaboration with Historypin for their exhibit Curating the Bay: Crowdsourcing a New Environmental History. As many may have read about from us, this exhibit incorporated our Year of the Bay project in the form of a touch screen and pinning station, the latter for visitors to bring in their Bay Area memories to scan into the project. The exhibit itself asked visitors to help solve some Bay history mysteries, and in conjunction with this Historypin rolled out our mystery-solving interface for the first time. From the perspective of the California Historical Society, the power of Historypin lies in our layered sense of place, and its ability to let users travel back in time. Visitors had fun exploring contributed memories within the exhibit on the touch screen, though they were also more comfortable contributing their own memories at home rather than bring in photos to a pinning station. Other thoughts from Anthea included the success in utilizing the SF Chronicle to post history mysteries (with the photos also pinned to Year of the Bay), the relative ease in tracking Historypin site activity through Google Analytics, and the fact that most interaction with CHS photos occurred over social media (including mysteries). Overall (and we agree), it was a hard sell asking people to bring in photos physically to scan onto our website, even with a Project Officer stationed there; the project’s success relies on building trust from both individuals and institutions before they can contribute, and this takes many months after the project launch to gain traction (and more than the couple of months the exhibit was open).

Anthea Hartig of the California Historical Society introducing findings from working with Historypin's Year of the Bay project.

Kerri at the Curating the Bay pinning station in the California Historical Society this past summer.

Rebecca Federman from the New York Public Library’s talked about the menu transcribing project, What’s on the Menu?; so far, volunteers have helped to transcribe over 17,000 historic menus, helping to track food trends over time. Crowdsourcing the history of lunch certainly brought out food enthusiasts to help, as well as community groups and individuals. Hiring interns to do outreach over social media, designing a simple interface, creating simple how-to’s, and getting rid of registration were and are all crucial to the project’s success, though a lack of the latter makes it harder to track the user base. Creating more targeted events to do this, as well as thinking about how the project can be transferred over for researchers in the future were some thoughts for moving forward.

Lorraine McConaghy from the Seattle’s Museum of History and Industry spoke about her ambitious efforts to crowdsource Civil War history in the state of Washington, so local residents could participate in the ongoing national discussion about the war in the Pacific Northwest and its meaning. Some lessons learned was that the project needed a more streamlined process for dealing with the tech involved, that it needed more volunteers or interns to answer daily inquiries, more training days for the public, and that the facilitators underestimated how much editing they would need to maintain consistency. However, the project gained about 150 solid readers to analyze Civil War texts; the appeal lay in the fact that what they were exploring was not known before about the Civil War in the Pacific Northwest, and that participants found out lots of new information only obtained through deep reading.

Rebecca Federman talking about the New York Public Library's "What's on the Menu?" crowdsourcing project.

While each of these wonderful crowdsourcing projects have adopted distinct approaches to crowdsourcing history, they collectively see public engagement as a key strategy for creating and making accessible new kinds of history. Engagement in these projects are what makes them successful; a comment, suggestion, or annotation can make all the difference in measuring a project’s success. For us at Historypin, there is always much to learn on the crowdsourcing front, and being able to connect and learn from others who are using similar or different approaches is invaluable.

Overall, this was a very insightful trip and a great national gathering, and we met many public historians doing great work. We hope to see you at the next one!

-Max Baumgarten and Kerri Young

Browse the full program of this year’s NCPH conference, and don’t forget that you can still contribute your memories and solve some history mysteries in our Year of the Bay project.

Year of the Bay: The Bold Italic Photo Essay Featuring SF Public Library pins

Help us overlay this image onto Street View: Divisadero Street, south of Oak Street, on July 21, 1940. Historic Photo Collection, San Francisco Public Library.

Today The Bold Italic published a wonderful photo essay featuring Year of the Bay pins from our friends at the San Francisco Public Library, another fruitful collaboration between Historypin and the popular local San Francisco magazine. The photos, pinned to the Year of the Bay especially for this spread, feature San Francisco’s rapidly-changing Western Addition neighborhood. The SFPL asks that you have fun overlaying these photos onto their modern-day locations using our mystery-solving tools:

SFPL's Western Addition mysteries on our Year of the Bay project page.

Scroll through these current “Mysteries” on the Year of the Bay project page, as well as some past SF neighborhood ones. Here are some quick tips:

  1. Go to yearofthebay.org and at the top right, log in with your Google, Facebook, or Twitter account. If you don’t have a Historypin account, create one for free!
  2. Back at www.yearofthebay.org, scroll down until you see the Mysteries Tab (default).
  3. On the left side, select Show me: Unsolved mysteries (also the default), and scroll down the list of Western Addition mysteries (among others). If you want to see mysteries that other people have already commented on, tick Show Me: Under investigation on the left bar.
  4. Choose a photo from the list you want to help solve, and press Solve.
  5. Depending on what kind of mystery it is, the interface will prompt you to either enter a new date, find a new location, or overlay a photo onto Street View. Once you make your suggestion, you will be able to enter in why you’ve made the choice you have.
  6. That’s it!  Because this is a beta tool (which is to say we’re still working on it to make it better), if anything weird happens, feel free to comment on this blog post, or fill out this easy form to let us know what happened.

Read The Bold Italic’s post featuring SFPL’s Western Addition photos here, and visit the Year of the Bay project page to start overlaying the photos onto their modern-day locations. Don’t forget to share your mystery-solving skills with your friends!

Remembering the Baa-Baas

Nick Stanhope, Tigers fan since the 1980s chats with Peter Reeves, a fan since the 1940s

Last week the Historypin Team was in Leicester with Soft Touch Arts and the University of Leicester collecting sporting memories from Leicester Tigers fans. We ran a drop in event, inviting fans to come bring in their memorabilia and share their memories about the annual rugby match between the Tigers and the Barbarians.

Before the event we’d already had some fun memories shared on Facebook, including the identification of Pete Curtis, famous for getting drunk and climbing things from cross bars to lamposts – anyone remember him? The hunt is still on for a photo of one of his escapades.

We also found out the story behind this image:

Fans at the Barbarians Game, Dec 1988 (Image courtesy of Leicester Mercury at the University of Leicester)

Word of mouth spread the photo through a chain of Tigers fans and reunited this photo to with the gentleman depicted, Bob Nicholas, who was able to shed light on the ridiculous hats:

A friend has sent me the link to the Tigers website and the Leicester Mercury photo of my family at the match in the 1980’s.  I no longer live in UK but have very fond memories of the matches during the latter part of the amateur era.  The photo was probably from 1987 and came about because, in those days, if you dressed up in something extraordinary there was every chance the press would record it for posterity!  I wore a “Rudolph-the-Red-Nosed-Reindeer” hat and my children wore Moosehats I had found on a trip to the USA.  The policeman who was patrolling the touchline before kick-off stopped as he passed us by and I asked him if, as it was Christmas, he wanted to swap his party hat for mine.  His response was “I’m not sure which one of us would look more stupid, Sir” and just at that moment a photographer took the picture. 

My theory of getting press coverage did work.  Rugby Special showed recorded highlights of the match and panned onto us in the crowd.  On another occasion we were interviewed by Jonathan Agnew who had recently joined Radio Leicester, just because we were wearing the hats, and after the match he broadcast that it was his first visit to a BaaBaas match and the first time he’d met Rudolph-the-Red-Nosed-Reindeer.  I’ve dined out on the story a few times, but still miss the sheer joy of watching two sides playing for the pure love of the game. 

It was definitely worth waiting in the queue for the gates to open in order to get a good position in the front of the Enclosure – all before season tickets were introduced.

At the event we were joined by people from across the Tiger family, including fans, retired players, the club historian, ex-captains and volunteers who had run the catering. They brought in a wealth of memorabilia – ticket stubs, newspaper articles, programmes and even a sock signed by David Campese!

Sock signed by Barbarians player David Campese, brought in by Angela Murphy who volunteered with the catering dept at Welford Rd (Image courtesy of LFC)

Rob Ross also brought in his impressive collection of Tigers vs Barbarian programmes which included every one since World War Two and one from 1910:

Tigers vs Barbarians Programme, 1910 shared by Rob Ross (Image courtesy of LFC)

And as luck would have it, Mike Harrison, Tigers player from 1962-1971 and captain from 1964, was on hand to sign the 1964 programme.

Mike Harrison, retired Tigers captain, signs Rob Cross' programme

You can listen here to Mike speaking about how special the annual Barbarians game was and the unique atmosphere of the ground and watch here to see former Tigers player and match commentator Bleddyn Jones speak about how he joined the Tigers team after casually joining their training one evening.

It was a great event with loads of materials and memories shared and some great stories unearthed. You can see everything that was gathered, alongside 100s of photos from the Leicester Mercury newspaper archive here. And if you’d like to know more about our work with Leicester Tigers, or have materials and memories to share, email historypin@wearewhatwedo.org.

Programme Tigers vs Barbarians 1960 (Image courtesy of LFC)

Bay Motion Contest Entries from the Oakland Museum of California

Oakland Harbor at Sunset, Getty Images.

The great folks over at the Oakland Museum of California recently uploaded a bunch of video mashups into our Year of the Bay project which you can now check out. The videos, in conjunction with the museum’s Bay Motion exhibit, are contest entries asking members of the public to submit a video interpretation of their relationship to the San Francisco Bay. Those entering the “Bay Motion Contest” had the option to use their own home videos, or to remix footage from the wonderful Prelinger Archives, a collection of over 60,000 “ephemeral” (advertising, educational, industrial, and amateur) films.

"A Trip Down Market Street Before the Fire," 1906. Archival footage from the Prelinger Archives.

Rick Prelinger in the archival vault. Photo by Megan Prelinger.

The Bay Motion mashup contest continues the theme of the the exhibit itself, exploring how the San Francisco Bay and the surrounding region “was captured by amateur, professional and industrial camera people.” The museum received entries from a wide range of locals, from middle school students to working individuals. Here are some observations from the contest screening a few weeks ago, from the Oakland Museum’s champion Historypinner Robert Fahey:

“…it was a great atmosphere and everyone enjoyed the many different types of videos screened. The judges also greatly enjoyed each video and loved the experience of having them all screened and enjoyed/watched together. Rick Prelinger also made an appearance since his wife, Megan, was one of the judges. They both expressed how much it meant to them to see people creatively taking from the Prelinger Archives and and turn it into something of their own.”

Here are the entries from winners Solomon Kamara and CB Smith-Dahl:

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Solomon and CB with their Adobe Creative Suite prizes at the Museum.

These videos are great creative materials for our Year of the Bay project, and an an example of the ways you can contribute your San Francisco Bay story to Historypin. Watch the rest of these great contest entries on the Oakland Museum’s Channel, and click “Pin Your Memories” on www.yearofthebay.org to submit your own photos or videos of how you experience the Bay.

Remembering the Baa-Baas Games

Fans at the Barbarians Game, Dec 1988 (Image courtesy of Leicester Mercury at the University of Leicester)

Are you a Tigers fan with memories, photos, films and memorabilia of the annual Barbarians game? Did you go to the game every year with your family? Or work at Welford Road when it was played?

We need your help!

We are creating a digital time capsule of the Tigers vs Barbarians games and want to gather as many recollections and materials as possible. Come along to our workshops, where you can:

  • Explore the history of the Baa Baas game with other Tigers fans

  • See historical photos from the Leicester Mercury archive and help enrich them with stories and information

  • Bring your photos, films and memorabilia to be recorded, digitised and added to the time capsule

We are running three casual drop-in workshops – pop into whichever one you can make for however long you can stay.

Date: Tuesday 18th March 2014

Times:  12pm – 2pm; 4pm – 6pm; 6.30pm – 8.30pm

Location: Soft Touch Arts Centre, 50 New Walk, Leicester LE1 6TF

Refreshments will be provided.

If you have your own personal collection of photos, films or memorabilia about the Baa Baas, do bring it along to share.

If you have any queries, please email historypin@wearewhatwedo.org.

The pilot project has been delivered through the Collaborative Arts Triple Helix Project, a research project by the University of Birmingham in partnership with University of Leicester. The Collaborative Arts Triple Helix Project has been funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council as pat of their Creative Economy Knowledge Exchange programme.

Historypin is back in Austin!

Going to be in Austin next week? So are we! We’re back at SXSW with an exciting global panel entitled 100 Years of Oversharing: Tools for Time Travel, happening March 10 at 12:30pm in the Convention Center.

And if that’s not enough, we helped put together a roundtable of amazing dreamers and doers from around the world which is free and open to the public at the #IdeaDrop House. The panel was called Backporch Beers Roundtable: Mashup Culture, made possible by E-Resources and Libraries (ER&L), ProQuest and the Digital Library Federation (DLF).  The conversation was hosted by Historypin’s Jon Voss and Rachel Frick of the Digital Library Federation.  

Don’t worry, this isn’t actually an hour and a half long, we broke it into two 30 minute sessions with a 20 minute break in between since we couldn’t fit everyone on the couch. Group one considered copyright and examples that push the boundaries in GLAMs and included Keir Winesmith, Head of Web and Digital Projects, SFMOMA; Molly Jacobs, Web Producer, American Experience/PBS; Heather Champ, Community & Content, Findery; and Richard Vijgen, Information Designer.

Group 2 starts at about 46 minutes into the recording and explores some global examples of creative reuses of library and museum spaces and content. This group featured Daniel Flood, Creative Production Manager, The Edge, State Library of Queensland; Johan Oomen, Manager R&D, Netherlands Institute of Sound & Vision; Kathryn Jaller, New Media Manager, Contemporary Jewish Museum; and Joe Voss, Senior Counsel, Clark Hill PLC.

Putting Art on the Map gets competitive

Deep focus as everyone strives to be the lead mystery-solver

On 26th February 2014 Putting Art on the Map got competitive, setting a group of UCL Digital Humanities the task of solving as many mysteries as possible in an hour. The blog below is a guest post by WiIma Stefani, Historypin intern and Digital Humanities student at King’s College London who has been helping out with our Putting Art on the Map Live Events.

We were hosted by Simon Mahony, Senior Teaching Fellow in Digital Humanities at the Centre for Digital Humanities at UCL, in the UCL computer lab. 10 students joined us and we challenged them to solve as many mysteries as possible – despite a fire drill interrupting things, in just half an hour we had 50 solved!

We had an international group and many students found paintings showing cities of their home country and were able to identify the locations. The competition got everyone motivated and there was some speedy re-pinning, with Starvi Ioannidou solving 7 mysteries and Christina solving 8. But the winner was cy3__ who solved an amazingly impressive 17!

The students showed their research skills by accurately pinning the location of the chosen painting, using Google, and in particular Google Maps; for many of the mysteries the title of the painting was the main clue, specifying the location of the scene depicted; but some of them were more tricky, such as in the case of Kephalos Bay, depicted in this painting by Herbert Hillier, and nowadays known as Kefalos Plaji, as a Greek student explained.

The same person proposed more specific dates about the Great Thessaloniki Fire of 1917, depicted in this artwork by William T Wood, as she had the opportunity to study this event in detail while studying at Thessaloniki’s University.

Sadly the evening had to end but many of the students continued to solve mysteries over the following days. You can do the same by visiting Putting Art on the Map, and following the project on IWM’s Twitter, Facebook and Google+ pages.

A big thank you to UCL for hosting us, and Simon and all the students for making it happen: see you on Historypin!