Developer: BYSS mobile
Price: $2.99 Download on the App Store
Historical Society eat your heart out, the Panoramic City Views USA iPad app is by far one of the most interesting ways to travel back in time to yesteryear and experience America as it was over a 100 years ago. With up to 400 megapixels of historical detail for intense zooming, the iPad app is the equivalent to Google Earth back in the XIX century complete with street view because of the amount of detail.
I remember being at the top of the formerly named Sears Tower and found the incredible views very interesting not just for the sky line, but also to see how the city was laid out in a grid pattern. It spoke to the history of how the city was planned. Looking through the telescope also allowed me to check out the city streets from a birds-eye view and try to picture how it used to look, which I feel is where the Panoramic City Views USA app becomes very handy.
Also, I've done a lot of travel in my time and always find interesting tours to take such as the Seattle Underground Tour, Portland Underground Walk and even the Architectural Kayaking Tour in Chicago. The tours are the true way to learn a city's history. Well, that and having older relatives from those areas. But the drawback is that while you hear about the history you only see the present, which is tomorrow's yesterday, but I digress.
Panoramic City Views USA allows you to go past the facade of the current city and experience how cities like Seattle, San Jose, Dallas, Atlanta and Chicago looked liked at the turn of the XIX century.
Once you launch the app, simply select a city and the map is loaded almost instantaneously. Sure you can go to the Library of Congress to check these out, but for only $2.99, pinching and zooming is a bit more realistic than packing and traveling.
The maps have a large amount of high-resolution details and can easily be zoomed in and out via the pinch and zoom motion gestures, which should only get better with the new iOS 5 release this fall. Information such as year is in the upper right corner and you can find the name of the city and date the map was drawn under the info button.
Traveling to a city and exploring their current infrastructure unveils a lot of history of where the city evolved from, who it was built for and why it still exists. However, the Panoramic City Views USA historical map app is the only way to easily access all 50 maps in one location and truly experience the old time America that you've most likely only heard about from your great grandparents.