NewsWorks: Audio tour highlights historic preservation flash points in Philly's Old City

The walking tour explores stories of decay, preservation, and renewal in this historic Philadelphia neighborhood, featuring interviews with preservation experts.


Excerpted from an article in NewsWorks, by Peter Crimmins.

A new audio walking tour of Philadelphia's Old City guides people through historic preservation hot spots with their phones. 

The Chemical Heritage Foundation, at 3rd and Chestnut Street in Old City, is the force behind the tour and currently has an exhibition about the science of preservation, Things Fall Apart. It describes how certain materials decay and ways to prevent it through chemistry.

Including Barbie Dolls.

"The torso is a different kind of plastic than the legs," said the Chemical Heritage Foundation's Rebecca Ortenberg. "So it decomposes in a weird way."

Ortenberg is a program associate in charge of leading people out of the exhibition gallery, into the surrounding streets to explore the neighborhood. The audio tour she coordinated is mostly about ethical and cultural issues of preservation, not so much material science of falling apart.

"We are a history of science institution. We tend to approach science sideways, finding new ways to approach those questions," she said.

The audio guide is part of the Detour mobile app. Once downloaded, it is driven by your phone's GPS, so it knows where you are standing and how long it takes you to walk to the next location.

Read the full article on NewsWorks.

Image credit: Rebecca Ortenberg, a program associate in the Institute's Institute for Research. Emma Lee, WHYY.


June 19, 2017