Monday, January 7, 2013

Spokane Historical: Houdini Takes a Dive

Last quarter one of my grad students, Lee Nilsson, chose the old Washington Street Bridge over the Spokane River as one of his stops for Spokane Historical. He did not expect to find much--maybe a few old photos and a newspaper story about the construction. As it happened he hit the historical jackpot:

You can view all of the historic interpretation that Nilsson developed for this site at the Washington Street Bridge stop. He also found a treasure trove of bridge construction photographs, and an amusing story in the newspsper that he turned into a "period" radio news flash. Houdini's 1905 jump is only one of the forgotten Spokane stories that my students are uncovering in their research for Spokane Historical.

The other notable thing about the video is the introduction, with the animated logo and historic music.

The original graphics for Spokane Historical were developed by Mark Tebeau and Erin Belle at the Center for Public History + Digital Humanities at Cleveland State University. It was they who developed the Curatascape platform that underlies Spokane Historical, and they host our database and offer technical support. The graphics were animated for me by XX at EWU. He also paired the graphics with various sound clips, but none of the free MP3s sounded quite right. I wanted something historical. So I sent Nilsson to the Cylinder Preservation and Digitization Project, where he selected a clip from a 1913 recording, Alexander's Ragtime Band Medley, to serve as the Spokane Historical theme song.

More great Spokane Historical material to follow!

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