Historical Residue: an Augmented Reality App and the Exploration of the Lost Town of New Philadelphia, Illinois

Symposium:


Session Title:

  • Intangible Heritage

Presentation Title:

  • Historical Residue: an Augmented Reality App and the Exploration of the Lost Town of New Philadelphia, Illinois

Presenter(s):



Abstract:

  • (Short paper)

    Keywords: Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, Games, History, 3D, New Philadelphia, United States National Park Service

    The New Philadelphia AR Tour is an historical mobile app that uses Augmented Reality technology to present the lost 19th Century town of New Philadelphia, Illinois to visitors. New Philadelphia is a United States National Historic Landmark that is historically significant as the first town in the United States to be founded by an African American. After being abandoned in the early 20th Century, however, the site reverted to farmland. Today there are no visibly remaining buildings or artifacts. The app enables visitors to view 3D reconstructions of buildings overlaid onto the current landscape in their original locations. The historical buildings and artifacts are carefully reconstructed based on a collaboration between the author, the United States National Park Service’s Network to Freedom Program and archaeologists from the Illinois State Museum. The project represents an innovative model for interpreting historical sites that have traditionally been challenging to interpret, particularly when there is an absence of remaining artifacts. The New Philadelphia AR Tour challenges the notion of what kind of historical site is worth interpreting and what value or historical residue remains when there seems to be little that visually remains. Moreover the project’s use of Augmented Reality and its minimal footprint help to address the dilemma often faced by those managing historical sites of facilitating public access to a site at the risk of compromising site preservation.

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