Technology helps to bring Richmond’s history to life

Technology helps to bring Richmond’s history to life

Rooted in Richmond invites visitors to take a self-guided tour through the city’s history, including some of Richmond’s oldest neighborhoods, providing a glimpse of the past in a way few have experienced.

An app, created by Richmond’s Historic Preservation Commission, is available on all App Stores. The walking tour begins at the site of the Flora Ninomiya nursery and guides the listener through Richmond’s historical past and early years.

The tour allows the user to walk in the footsteps of train porters and other Pullman employees who settled on Richmond's south side, making their homes close to their work in the Pullman shops just a short walk away.

As the narrative continues, it guides the user through the location of recently discovered vintage art, long forgotten in the basement of Richmond's first post office, detailing the painstaking restoration process before proceeding on through the fabulous public art displays of the Pullman neighborhood.

Next, the app takes the user through the evolution of transportation in the city, which includes a trek through the Nystrom neighborhood, a residential area located near the historic Kaiser Shipyard site. During World War II, this neighborhood housed many shipyard workers and their families and featured elementary schools offering deferencianal starting times to accommodate shipyard workers who worked a variety of shifts.

According to Historic Preservation Commissioner Jonathan Haeber, "the tour covers 16 locations over 6 miles and includes maps, photos, videos, and 3D renderings of historic objects, and more. Topics range from sacred Ohlone shellmounds to the formation of environmental justice groups in the wake of a toxic industrial accident."

Producing the walking tour app was a labor of love for the Historic Preservation Commissioners and also offered a learning experience, according to Commission Chair Joann Pavlinec.

"Serving on Richmond's Historic Preservation Commission leads to a lot of information on the historic culture of the city. But doing outreach to neighborhood groups and institutions for this project led me to resources and people with first-hand accounts, significantly enriching the basic stories I knew with many new discoveries. This tour offers these first-hand stories, along with others that all the  Commissioners worked on, with images to transport you there while you're biking or walking the very location where they occurred, many with the original structures still there to enhance the experience," Pavlinec said.

The Rooted in Richmond app is available free in all app stores and online.

Editors note: In April of 2023 the Rooted in Richmond app won a California Preservation Design Award for Cultural Heritage, Intangible Assets. Award recipients are selected by a jury of top professionals in the fields of architecture, engineering, planning, and history, as well as renowned architecture critics and journalists.

‎Rooted In Richmond
‎Hundreds of years of Richmond, California history, in the palm of your hands. Hear the stories of the people and places of Richmond through exclusive audio interviews, 3D models of Richmond’s historical artifacts, and dozens of vivid historical images. This tour will automatically trigger as you…

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