Friday, August 13, 2021

Get to KnowCLT: Brooklyn

Fellow Charlotteans, stop what you're doing, find your "to do" list, and add this to the top of it.

Levine Museum of the New South recently launched a free new app called KnowCLT. Take a minute to download the app, then make some time to use it. 

Here's why (and how):

It's educational

KnowCLT provides a GPS-based, immersive, self-guided walking tour of what was once Brooklyn, a large, vibrant, Black neighborhood located uptown that was erased in the name of urban renewal in the 1960s. Brooklyn was a beautiful, thriving community and this experience tells the story of the area, its architecture, and the people who lived there. Recognizing the tragedy of the demolition of Brooklyn is uncomfortable, but also important for all citizens of our city.

It's engaging

I've never used virtual reality technology before, so I was blown away by how easy it was to use and what an incredible experience the program provides.

Simply head uptown and situate yourself inside of the parameters of the tour on the map within the app. Your exact location will appear as a blue dot, which moves with you as you make your way toward each stop. The app notifies you when you're getting close and when you've arrived. In real life, you're looking for a large green circle mounted on the sidewalk at each location.

Stand in the circle (feet facing the way the white footprints tell you to. Really, could it be any easier?). Hold your phone in the direction the app instructs you and, like magic, an augmented reality image of what used to be will appear. Each stop includes an audio explanation and interesting background information.

There are seven historic sites and two informational stops located within a 4-city-block radius. You can begin anywhere, go at your own pace, and choose your own route to visit them. Check out this brochure for more information about what to expect before you go. 

This makes for a great outing for kids, who will find the technology and scavenger-hunt aspects of the outing exciting. Plus, this glimpse of history can be a very eye-opening experience for even very young participants.  

It's entertaining

If it's been a while since you've been uptown, KnowCLT provides the perfect reason for an urban excursion. Since the pandemic began, we've not had as many excuses to head to Center City as we once did. This is a good one, though. And I recommend you pair the virtual tour with a visit to the exhibit Brooklyn: Once a City within a City (and/or any of the other engaging exhibits) at Levine Museum of the New South (200 E. 7th St.).

As a bonus, KnowCLT gives you an option to earn rewards to redeem at local, Black-owned businesses. Fun for now and later!

More to come
I understand the museum plans to add experiences to the app in the future. For now, take this opportunity to journey to the past and get to know the beauty of Brooklyn. I think you'll be glad you did, and I know you'll be a better informed citizen for it. 

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