Predictably, there are thousands of apps about London – if you want some reliable nominations, check the ‘Top 10 Free London Apps’ article by Visit London, the city’s official visitor guide.
But a few of them are as amazing and lovely as The Museum of London app, called Streetmuseum and available on Google Play and iTunes.
Firstly, let’s make things clear: I’m talking about the Museum of London, which is not the British Museum. Since I’ve seen Londoners making confusion between them, I thought it would be nice to specify. The London one tells the history of – guess what? – London (wow!), and it is close to St Paul’s tube station.
The app gives a unique perspective of old and new London, from the Great Fire of 1666 to the swinging sixties.
There are two ways of using it: once you select a destination from the map, a historical image of the location appears onscreen, with historical information. You do not have to be in London to use it. The pictures are splendid!
Being in London, you can use the app’s augmented reality mode, which identifies your location and overlays the historic image over the current camera view. Just hold your camera up to the street scene and see the same location in the past. By tapping the information button, you get historical facts. Jaw dropping!
Streetmuseum is not brand new; it has been updated with over 100 new locations and images, dating as far as back as 1868. Also, its locations have been expanded to outer boroughs as Richmond, Brent Cross and Ealing.
To promote it, the museum has released historic pictures of London juxtaposed with modern ones. It is magical to see how a city can change so much and so little!
Duncannon Street, Westminster, 1902. The street was decorated for the coronation ceremony of Edward VII
Palace Theatre in 1958. Photographer: Bob Collins
Gloucester Road Station under construction in the late 1860. Photo by Henry Flather
A scene of Oxford Street in 1905 by Christina Broom