Learning Frederick's rich history is now as simple as a swipe of the finger with the new Frederick Walking Tour smartphone application.
Longtime Frederick residents Scott Grove and Carrie Delente joined forces a few years ago to combine his marketing skills and love of history with her multimedia experience. Together, they built an app that takes locals and visitors on a journey through the city, from its founding in the 18th century to its continuing growth today.
Available for Android and Apple phones or tablets, the app operates from the user's GPS coordinates, offering directions to any of 46 locations around the city. The application consists of seven mini tours, based on various segments of local history, including the evolution of the American main street, the Civil War and Frederick's rebirth.
"This is a town so rich with history," said Grove, president of Grove Public Relations in Frederick.
With a pair of headphones, a user can watch a short narrated video at each stop along the tour, or read the transcript and watch a slide show. The two-mile walk consists of about 55 minutes of narrative and imagery; the entire combined tour takes about two hours.
People often come to town with different ideas of what to do, Grove said. The logistics of gathering a group to take a guided tour of the city can be difficult, he said.
With the depth of a guided tour, plus the convenience and flexibility of an unchaperoned walk, Grove called the app "the best of all possible worlds."
"This way you can just pick it up and use it when you feel like it, which is great," said Heidi Campbell-Shoaf, Historical Society of Frederick County executive director.
Some critics were concerned that the new app might compete with the society's traditional walking tours, but Campbell-Shoaf said she is not worried.
"It's an opportunity to get more people to learn the history of this area," she said. "That's what our goal is."
The great challenge of creating the app, according to Delente, president of Enforme Interactive, was writing each tour's content to stand as its own story, outside of the entire historical timeline.
But confirming the city's history was not left entirely up to Grove and Delente. The team recruited Campbell-Shoaf and John Fieseler, executive director of the Tourism Council of Frederick County, to help with production of the app.
"There is a lot of Frederick history that's not correct," Fieseler said, adding that his office worked on the product mostly in a consultation position.
The app costs $6.99. From every download, the Tourism Council and Historical Society each get $1 for use in the county's Bell & History Day festivities and ongoing educational projects, respectively.