How to find old photos on the area you live in!
It’s an interesting world we live in, where information can be found at a quick search on many of our technological devices. It is also really comforting to search up everything and anything in the comfort of your own home. Though, have you ever given some thought to what your house looked like years ago? Or maybe your street? Neighbourhood? Town? What about your city? I became curious in the history of my house in Scarborough, Ontario, when I thought about the idea of ghosts. I then went on a journey to figure out if my house was ever haunted. I didn’t end up finding any spooky or mysterious information; however, I did end up being curious in what my town looked like years before I lived here. I know other people must be curious to know the specific history of where they reside in too. I am going to fill you in on the best places you can find old photos of your neighbourhood!
1. There is this awesome website called, http://www.whatwasthere.com/ where people are able to send in their old photos of their area. This website is a great searching tool to find photos of where you live! The website allows you to type in your town, and tabs pop up on a map. You can click on the little tabs, and dated images will fill your screen. In Toronto alone, there are images I found that date back to as early as the late 19th century! You can definitely get lost in this website and all its historic wonder.
2. On the City of Toronto website, there is a page titled, “Find The History of Your House.” There you will have options of sorting through city directories, fire insurance plans, and many, many, photographic images of different parts of Toronto. If you have ever lived in different parts of the city, I am sure you will have a wonderful time skimming through all the photos provided!
3. I am a huge fan of Museums. They are a great source for finding out cool facts around the world, and a great source of finding cool facts about your own backyard. I used to work at the Scarborough Museum, which was such a wonderful and insightful experience. Since that museum is on the smaller side, you can easily take a close up look at all the artifacts. This includes pictures as well! Of course, not so close that you are breathing on the artifacts because that probably doesn’t obey the social distancing guidelines. Speaking of social distancing, you don’t have to leave your house to explore museums. Black Creek Pioneer Village (located in North York, Toronto) has virtual exhibits you can explore. Check it out! https://blackcreek.ca/exhibits/
4. Give your local library an in person or virtual visit! As you know, a library is always a wonderful source for finding facts on any topic, so you might as well take advantage of the search tool when on the library website! If you’re someone who is in Toronto, the best and most well known library is the Toronto Reference Library. Feel free to take a look through their books about your town! There are so many sources and photos you can find just by searching on their website, so you don’t necessarily have to leave your house. (If ebooks are your go-to, then you should definitely get the Public Library – Over Drive app! All you need is a library card, and you’re set. This app works for most libraries.)
5. Ask your next door neighbours! Or any of your neighbours really. I am sure they may have photos of how your area used to look. Who knows, they might even have retro photos of themselves too, and that sounds like it would lead to some delightful and interesting conversation.
6. Another word of mouth approach may be something as simple as asking friends on social media for photos of your street. The amount of times I have asked a general question on Facebook, I have always been pleasantly surprised with the whirlwind of responses from all sorts of people with different perspectives. You should try it! A while back one of my co-workers shared an old photo from a theatre we both used to work at. Ever since then, I trust that asking friends and family about historic facts on social media couldn’t hurt.
That puts on end to my short yet effective list on ways to find photos of your street. I hope you dive into doing a bit of digging for some really vintage photos! In all my research, I’m surprised I still didn’t find out if my house was haunted or not. Though I did find a creepy website, https://www.diedinhouse.com/, but it only works for US addresses! Regardless of the potential eerie history of my home, I did have a fun time looking up photos of my home town. It’s always a great way to see different points of view when getting a little blast from the past. I bet after reading this article, it will lead you into finding amazing facts about your city, town, or street, that you never even could have imagined.