Time Travelling 2.0. A digital dive into the historical city

In collaboration with the City of Antwerp and Digipolis, the Centre for Urban History from the University of Antwerp is working on a mobile application that allows to let visitors and inhabitants get involved into the history of houses in the area, with the families that lived and worked there, with the many shops, inns and guilds, but also with the contrast between richness and poverty. It is a sort of historical Google Streetview, but one that goes further than that. The app also tells us something about what was going on behind those building facades.

This pilot project includes the Sint-Andries quarter, an old working-class neighborhood in the city-centre of Antwerp, with many historical buildings and interesting places such as the Museum Plantin-Moretus, the pittoresque Sint-Andries church and the oldest street of the city: the Hoogstraat.

When walking through the streets of Sint-Andries, it will be possible to request information of a specific house, and of the people that lived there, as well as their names, occupation or gender.

While watching photos, engravings, paintings or drawings, you can discover how a house, church or street looked like in the far or recent past.

The application perfectly suits to educational goals. When using the app, pupils can get acquainted with the history of the neighborhood and the city, and this for three crucial periods:

  • 1600: Antwerp’s ‘Golden Age’ or the early years of Peter Paul Rubens
  • 1800: The Napoleonic era
  • 1900: Antwerp and its emergence as a world-class harbour

Walk with your pupils through the Sint-Andries quarter and let them discover how many bakers worked there, where in the area guild members like tanners lived or how ‘forgotten’ professions such as a knife grinders looked like. During a mini-quiz, it will be even possible to question them about the social composition of a certain street. And, as a citizen-scientist you can help researchers with the camera of your smartphone by localizing the historical images.

The application goes online on the 1st September of 2019.

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