This morning I have been reading the first issue of a new newspaper entitled ‘As It Is To-Day. Issue 1. London Special’ put together by Chris Heathcote and printed by Newspaper Club. It is a fine collection of old text and advertisements that concern city life in London a long time ago. These texts where first published between 1790 and 1925 and includes a guide to walking in London streets from 1790, a thorough introduction to railway travel from 1839, reports from 1890 opening of the largest electric-lighting supply-station in the world and many more. Heathcote’s carefully selected collection of text give glimpse of a rich history of city-guide literature and opinionated text about travel, leisure, news and experiencing the city. ‘As It Is To-Day’ might well be read in the context of contemporary city use and urban culture and be seen as an interesting supplement to research and theories about encountering the city. The richness of the descriptions of urban experience and the colorful advice from the old city guides could serve a interesting startingpoint for discussing current mainstream location based services (that often seem to limit their ambitions to bland utilities and pointing you towards the ‘nearest-pizza‘.)
‘As It Is To-Day’ also reminds me of research and art events such as this year’s ‘Urban Encounters: Routes and Transitions‘ symposium at Tate Britain about “how photographic practices and archives intersect with an understanding of local and global routes as “places”, considering the temporality of place and the cross-cultural juxtaposition of locales”. The texts presented in ‘As It Is To-Day’ also relates to routes, transitions and the temporality of place, but give a very different feel and experience than what can be achieved by en art gallery. There is obviously a great potential in the bench- and stroll-friendliness of the printed newspaper and I really wish I could read some of these texts in the places they describe. However I’m reading this newpaper at my suburban kitchen table by a cold Norwegian fjord and are limited to a form of kitchenchair travel through time and space. So, many thanks to Chris for a urban tardis for food, walking, fishing suits and railway travel (and I look forward to the next one).