Next Best Thing: This App Was Made For Walkin'

May 13, 2020

Comparing the historic photo on the PocketSights app, credit Wichita Public Library, to the current Nu-Way building at 1416 W Douglas.
Credit Fletcher Powell / KMUW

Last weekend, I needed an activity that would get me out of the house for an hour or two, while keeping public contact to a minimum. So I set out to test the Wichita Public Library’s historic walking tours on the PocketSights app.

The library offers three virtual tours, each one highlighting the history of a Wichita neighborhood with audio narration and historical photos. To get started, download Pocketsights from your phone’s app store and select a local tour. For Android devices, click here. For Apple, click here.

I chose “Wild West Delano.” Stop #1 brought me to the Shamrock Lounge at Douglas and Vine. Here I learned that during Prohibition, a part-time bootlegger operated a bar and grille and pharmacy out of this building. And here’s an interesting tidbit: “Legend has it that many pharmacies sold alcohol during Prohibition to those with ‘proper’ prescriptions.” Sound familiar?

The app follows your location and notifies you when you’ve reached the next stop. It did get buggy at times, but that didn’t keep me from hitting all fourteen stops on the mile-long route. I walked two miles and learned more about my city’s history. Not bad for one afternoon.

One last thing: Voting is underway until May 15 for the Tallgrass Film Festival’s Take 36 at-home challenge. All 20 short film submissions were created at home with teams working remotely over the course of one week. You can watch the short films on the Tallgrass Film Festival YouTube channel, and then vote for your favorite. Here's a link to the online ballot.