I’ve been playing around with yet another Flickr Commons then and now project, this time using the images of New York from 1935-1938 from the New York Public Library. The process for this has been a little bit different to the previous then and now demonstrations. The images that have been posted don’t have any geo-location metadata (a latitude or longitude) so they can’t be placed directly on a map in the same manner as other Commons photographs. What they do have instead, is very good street addresses in their titles.
The google maps API has geocoding API call that translates a human readable address into a latitude and longitude. So if we pass the title of a photo into the API – let’s say “Willow Street, No. 113, Brooklyn”, it returns the latitude and longitude of “40.6978614, -73.9955804”.
For the demonstration I’m using a KML file. Generating this file is now a 2 step process, import the data from Flickr using their API, pass the title of the photo into the Google Maps API to get the latitude and longitude and merge both results into a KML file.
Of course some of the titles provide ambiguous addresses or don’t provide enough information and don’t automatically return a result. for some of the images I’ve manually tweaked the data that I’ve passed into the geocoding API to obtain a result. The results are by no means perfect, but it’s a pretty good demonstration of what can be achieved from very little data and automating everything.
Please explore my New York then and now mashup and let me know what you think.