I love maps. And I also love photographs of how things used to be. So, it's obvious that I was always going to love WhatWasThere. They want to create a unique history of the world by tying "historical photos to Google maps, [and] allowing you to tour familiar streets to see how they appeared in the past."
This is a great innovation that everyone can use: residents can learn more about where they live, tourists can get backstory, educators can bring two somewhat abstract subjects, history and geography, to life for their students. And for writers of historical fiction---well, WhatWasThere is The Jackpot. It is an easy and direct way to the essential atmosphere of a place at a particular point in time.
From my own very rough calculations, I estimate WhatWasThere has mapped more than 36,000 historical photographs by time and location. North America and Europe are best-represented right now, but with a platform for anyone to upload photographs to the site, this amazing project could very well achieve their mission to "weave together a photographic history of the world."
Unfortunately for me, my work-in-progress novel is set in Toronto long before cameras existed. Might I make a suggestion? How about WhatWasThere: Historical Paintings version? Huh? Sound good? Too bad, I guess it's back to the archives for me.
Erin Bedford, writer.