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An App For Exploring Albany

Developers of a new smartphone app hope it will allow residents and visitors to explore Albany in a new way.

Tour Albany is being touted as a new resource that allows users to identify and learn about area historic sites and buildings. The app zeroes in on a user’s GPS and maps out nearby historic sites. Its on-screen dashboard also allows the user to read information collected about each identified location.

Historic Albany Foundation Executive Director Susan Holland says the app may take people to a street they’ve never been down before. The first walking tour on the app takes visitors around the area of the downtown hotels.  "It tells you a little bit of the history of the buildings themselves, what you're looking at, and also what was there if there's a vacant lot. There's a parking lot in one of the situations. So they're actually able to stand in the spot, and then they can tell what the name of the building was, when it was built, potentially if there was a famous architect, and there's plans to put more in place like that. It' s just the framework is there, now we have to sort of build on it. The other piece of it is there's actually also built into it the start of what we call 'Listen Albany' so there's an actual voice. We recorded one tour on North Pearl Street. You know it's the same as all the museums we've ever gone to anywhere, you know, 'stand here' the bell rings, you turn, you do what they tell you to do. And it's about a half hour tour from where the Times Union Center is located, down to the Palace Theatre."

Aimed at locals and visitors, informational materials on the Tour Albany app will be made available to local hotels and businesses.

The new app complements Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan’s Cultural Heritage and Tourism initiatives and is supported by city’s Cultural Heritage Tourism 2016-18 Plan. Mayor Sheehan:  "It makes it easier for visitors and for people who may live in the area but not really know what jewels we have down here and the history of the city of Albany and all of the different landmarks that tell that story. So, it's great to have another tool to be able to do that."

The app is in the Apple and Google Play stores.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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