Peoria Historical Society Uses Innovative Archives to Show Area's History

Published 07/27 2014 06:20PM

Updated 07/27 2014 06:23PM

Peoria and the surrounding area are rich in history.

The Peoria Historical Society is trying to make images from the past more accessible.

The website, or specifically digital archive is called Historypin.

And with one click you step into an online time machine.

"This large map of the world basically with Google that you can pin pictures and stories on and the public can interact with," said Peoria Historical Society Curator Bob Killion.

Pictures and stories that illustrate Peoria’s past.

The River City was one of the first communities to get on board with Historypin in 2010.

"(Their website) says New York, London, Peoria."

The concept is pretty simple. Historians, or really anyone with a few, old pictures (maybe of buildings, family photos, etc.) can post them on history pin with a short description, allowing others to add their own information.

"We wanted to look at a way where we could use crowd sourcing so people could share what they know with us."

The archive allows you to compare what, for example, the Apollo Theater looked like in the 1940s to what it looks like today.

The history pin website and app show that many buildings in Peoria were the same a hundred years ago as they are now, but others have changed completely.

"You can super impose an image of a building, uh, in 1893 over what's there now. And you can fade it in and out and actually compare it to what's there now,” said Killion. “One cool thing about it is you can recreate a historical photo. So it will take you there and it will show you what’s there now, or the old pictures on there. And if there are people in the picture you can pose modern people in the same position.

History pin isn’t the only project that Killion and his team is working on. They’re creating a data base of historical pictures and writings they’ve collected over the years, as well as a website that allows users to transcribe old war letters.

All of it related to Central Illinois.

"The French have owned the area. The Spanish have owned the area. The English have owned the area. The Americans have owned the area. We have a fantastically long history that most places don't have. And most people don't realize we have that much history."

If you want to share your history or donate to the Peoria Historical Society’s many projects, visit You can also download the Historypin application for most devices.


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