Free app takes Vancouverites on a virtual trip through post-war city

Imagine walking through post-war Vancouver circa 1948.

Well, that is now possible thanks to a new app that takes you back through the history of the city.

The app called Circa 1948 is a historically based, 3-D app that explores two digitally recreated locations: Hogan’s Alley, which is now where the Georgia Viaduct sits, and the old Hotel Vancouver.

The app was researched by Vancouver artist Stan Douglas and produced by the National Film Board of Canada.

The “film noir” style app features a lot of historic detail and period music.

The app’s co-creator Loc Dao says some characters are inspired by real people who lived in the area in the late 40s — owners of gambling dens and brothels, immigrants trying to make a living in the new country and homeless soldiers returning from the war.

Story continues below advertisement

“At the core, it is a project about two places that no longer exist in Vancouver from 1948,” says Dao. “On a larger level, it is about how history repeats itself and how the issues of the time — the housing crisis, banks being in shambles, coming off a war, issues of immigration and racial tensions — all that repeats itself, and there are a lot of parallels between 1948 and today.”

Dao says the app uses what he calls “non-linear story telling” and features 44 conversations to paint a picture of what it was like to live in that time.

“You are experiencing these 44 conversations and eavesdropping on the past,” he says.

Circa 1948 is one of only five projects selected from around the world for the Tribeca Film Festival’s second annual Storyscapes program in New York.

To download the free app, go here.

WATCH: Navigating Circa 1948