They Paved Paradise and Put Up a Parking Lot
May 5, 2011 11:11 AM   Subscribe

Remember R. Crumbs, A Short History of America? Now you can DIY with What Was There?.
posted by Xurando (10 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Overlaying the photos on Google Street View was pretty well done. The UI's a little annoying but I'm willing to put up with it. Cool!
posted by ardgedee at 11:31 AM on May 5, 2011

Remember R. Crumb's A Short History of America ?

Also available in handy animated form.
posted by y2karl at 11:39 AM on May 5, 2011

See also
posted by DU at 11:44 AM on May 5, 2011

Cool, thanks for posting this.
posted by Outlawyr at 12:27 PM on May 5, 2011

This is great. I've always loved seeing this sort of thing, although it simultaneously fills me with a sort of ineffable melancholy. The past is a ghost around us, and a place we can never visit.

My partner and I started working on a project similar to this all the way back in 2003, but we ran out of steam after barely finishing the motels section and never put it on a website. I was actually thinking about it earlier today - I was digging through our storage drive looking for something else entirely, and found the folder that had the project in it. (Self-link to an imgur gallery containing the images I found in that folder, without commentary or explanation, just in case anyone's interested - I don't think most of these would work well on the What Was There? site or I'd just upload them there.)

I've signed up for What Was There? and am working on uploading my small, low-resolution (like I said, it was 2003) collection of local streetview photos to it. It's kind of hard to get the angles lined up when relying on Google StreetView, but that's balanced out by the fact that Google StreetView makes this site possible in the first place, without relying on people going out and taking their own "what it looks like now" photos.
posted by titus n. owl at 12:48 PM on May 5, 2011

Very cool. Maybe they can team up with Shorpy.
posted by freakazoid at 1:39 PM on May 5, 2011

The happiest part of my childhood was the short time my family spent living in Yosemite Valley while my dad worked as a park ranger. Our home was a canvas-roofed cabin, complete with wood-burning stove, a hundred yards from the Merced River, in the employee campground we all called "Camp Six". I spent my days scrambling up boulders, digging in the sandbank at the edge of the river, floating downstream on an inflatable raft, and hiking mile after mile all over the park. I

It was paradise, and I'm sure you already know where this is going. The Park Service tore Camp Six down after the big flood in 1997, and literally - no kidding - put up a parking lot.

I went back to look at it once, just to torture myself, and I can't even make out where our house was. It's not even paved; it's just a big dusty sprawl of gravel.
posted by Mars Saxman at 1:41 PM on May 5, 2011

Many don't know that later, R.Crumb did an Epilog to the Short History.
posted by Rash at 2:37 PM on May 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

Then came the churches, then came the schools
Then came the lawyers, then came the rules
Then came the trains and the trucks with their loads
And the dirty old track was the telegraph road
posted by kcds at 6:51 AM on May 6, 2011

Hi everyone,

I'm one of the engineers who worked on this project - happy to see it posted here!

Let me know if you have any questions!
posted by adamkempa at 11:26 AM on May 18, 2011

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