Sunday, February 19, 2012

Historypin and a Get to NoMi Challenge

Post and photos below by the Hawthorne Hawkman, photos above from the Get to NoMi Facebook page.

In the summer of last year, I found a nifty new smartphone app called Historypin.  I tried it out on West Broadway and Friedman's, with varying degrees of success.  In essence, here's how the application works:  You take an old photograph, like the one shown above, and upload it onto the Historypin website.  Once uploaded, the photograph can be positioned using Google Street View, like so:

Step 1: find the house on Street View.
Then line up the old photograph; it can be adjusted to be translucent or opaque.
Now the picture is lined up directly over the current map.  We're good to go.
And now anyone who downloads the historypin app onto their phone can go to 2806 James and see the exact same thing, in the palm of their hands.

I have wanted to gather a large number of old pictures to do a historypin walking tour of part of NoMi.  But many older pictures are copyrighted or otherwise can't be used without permission or paying fees.  I've asked around about funding opportunities, but I'd rather get this done myself sooner rather than get funding later.  So when I saw this picture on the Get to NoMi page, I had an idea.  I'm asking neighbors on the page to send me old photographs.  I will pin the first twenty I receive on the application, and we can do a small tour from that initial collection.

Here are the rules for the NoMi Historypin Challenge...

1.  The photograph must be from somewhere in north Minneapolis.
2.  The photograph must be from 1840 - 2002.
3.  Posting or otherwise reusing the photograph cannot violate any copyright, trademark, or other legal protection.
4.  Submissions must have a street address associated with the photo so that they can be pinned on Google Street View.
5.  Please include a short description of the old picture.  Why is it important either on a personal level or on a broader historical level?

Email submissions to my personal address at

The first photo is here.  We have nineteen to go before the inaugural NoMi Historypin Tour!


  1. Will you accept photos from 1982? I've got a great one a house where my grandma lived for many years. Sadly she was often a prisoner as she was scared to go out. I think she would love to see her home on your project.

  2. There is a sliding bar on the smartphone Historypin app, and that bar indicates dates when the photos were taken. So for instance, if someone had the same photo from 2806 James, only thirty years later, that could be uploaded for the same spot.

    When I first downloaded the Historypin app on my phone, it went from 1880 - 1980. I checked my new version and the dates now go from 1840 - 2002. The blog post has been updated accordingly, and yes anon 9:57, I will gladly accept and use a photo from 1982.

  3. Dyna Sez: Great idea!

    My house will probably go tax forfeit in a year or so ($1000 in annual taxes on a $10,000 house I don't need aren't worth paying). Before the city tears it down (and they will), I should document it fully so future generations can witness the how the City of Minneapolis destroyed the Northside.

  4. Hey Dyna,

    We can probably help you out. We've been occupying vacant buildings and keeping people in their homes. We can probably occupy yours and keep it from being destroyed. We also do neighborhood canvasing to ensure the neighbors are supporting you.

    There will be a BBQ this Saturday at 12:00 at Monique's house. Folks are
    welcome to attend.

    Her address is
    3310 6th Ave N, Minneapolis, MN

    We'll be heading out from her house between 12:00 and 1:00pm to try and
    build the North Assembly, get yard signs in people's yards, and try to get
    more momentum behind Monique.

    So, stop by, grab some food, and head out to do some critical work for the

  5. Dyna,

    Can you explain how the City is solely responsible for destroying your home? Is it worth 10K because you "don't need it" and therefore don't keep it up? Or is there more to the story?

  6. Sorry, missed the event at Monique's- I was in Minneapolis saturday but didn't check Jeff's blog again 'til sunday. I've been to Monique's a couple times and support her and the effort to save her home.

    The situation with my Minneapolis home is different- I inherited it from my grandmother and the mortgage was paid off in 1952, so I own it free and clear. But my house needs a lot of rehab- I figured at least $40,000 worth even if I did some of the work myself. Two years ago I tried to get help from the city and they only made matters worse, driving the rehab costs well over $80,000 by demanding a poured concrete basement instead of concrete block, a plan review surcharge even though I wasn't expanding the house, etc..

    So I bought a much better house in good condition in rural Minnesota for $40,000, as that was a much better deal than rehabbing in Minneapolis. I am now stuck with my worthless house in Minneapolis that the city has assessed for four times it's value, pushing the taxes up to around $1000 a year. So unless the city reduces the taxes to what I can afford and helps me rehab the house, I'll be forced to quit paying the taxes and abandon it to the city.

    BTW, my situation is not unusual- I suspect more home in Minneapolis are being lost due to excessive taxes than foreclosure.


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