John Tallis was 170 years ahead of Google Street View. The pamphlets he published between 1838 and 1840 show London’s street elevations in peerless detail. The plans were intended to help people find shops and businesses. Today, they serve as a unique resource for historians and anyone interested in the Victorian cityscape.
The Museum of London has posted 35 of Tallis’s West End elevations on its website, with similar navigation to Google Street View. Shown above, for example, is Rathbone Place. Some of the buildings are linked up to annotations (orange boxes), which provide more details about the business at that address. The museum would like interested readers to help annotate the remaining buildings, by referring to the business directory Tallis published alongside the elevations.
The project is off to a good start, and the museum hopes to embed location-specific references to important objects in its collection. We’d love to see it go even further. Imagine if users could upload historic photographs and paintings, and match them up to locations in the Tallis street view. A slidebar could then allow one to time travel and view different eras on the same spot.