New mobile app features historic Austin tours


by JESSICA VESS / KVUE News & Photojournalist KENNETH NULL

Bio | Email | Follow: @JessicaV_KVUE

Posted on January 22, 2013 at 12:10 PM

Updated Tuesday, Jan 22 at 1:42 PM

AUSTIN -- The history of Austin is now available at your fingertips. A new mobile app takes users inside some of the oldest buildings in town.

“There [are] a lot of people who are very passionate about preserving and sharing the history of Austin,” said Executive Director of Preservation Austin Jacqui Schraad.
Schraad unveiled the new app Tuesday morning. In a ceremony with a twist, Preservation Austin flipped the tables and gave a “historic key” to the city to Mayor Lee Leffingwell. It represents the access Austin now has to so much of its history.
The mobile app, called Historic Austin Tours, is now available in the Apple iTunes store. It includes three tours.
The first one takes users through the history of Congress Avenue, the second focuses on East 6th Street, and the third is centered on Old West Austin.
Each of the tours includes markers placed at every historical building in the area. Users can select a specific marker to view the individual building. The digital tour includes pictures and an audio recording loaded with details of the building’s history.
“We all have a passion for why we want to be here. Of course some are long-term residents but there are a lot of new people coming to Austin. They're here because of all the special character and all the neat things going on, but they don't always understand or really have access to the history of Austin and understanding about that,” said Schraad.
There are 10 featured locations on Congress Avenue including the State Capitol, Paramount Theatre, the Littlefield Building and Old Bakery. Another 10 locations are featured on the East 6th Street tour including the Ritz Theatre, Paggi Carriage Shop and the Driskill Hotel. Ten locations are also included on the Old West Austin tour, most of which are former and current residencies.
“People came in and volunteered to do the research and [take] the photos,” said Schraad. “We were lucky to get two large donations from the Downtown Austin Alliance and the Austin Convention and Visitors Bureau, but then we did a really small campaign to the public to ask for donations and they just flooded in.”
With the app's release, Mayor Leffingwell signed a proclamation declaring Jan. 22 as Preservation Austin Day.
The tours for both East 6th Street and Congress Avenue are available to view for free. Users must pay $2.99 to tour Old West Austin.
The app marks the beginning of turning Austin digital. Preservation Austin is currently producing another app of historic music venues in Austin.
Currently the board is accepting ideas on what to include. Users can submit ideas and find more information on the Preservation Austin website.

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