The Sag Harbor Partnership wants to encourage visitors to get their noses out of their cellphones and have a look around the village. But first they need them to stick their noses back into those same phones long enough to download their new Sag Harbor Walking Tour app.
The new app will link users to three village tours—with more to come.
The idea for the mobile app was born, one of its developers, Nick Gazzolo, said this week, when the partnership, a nonprofit that raises funds for local cultural, education and conservation causes, worked with the Sag Harbor Cultural District, a loose affiliation of nine cultural and historic institutions in the village, to produce a good, old-fashioned paper map of their locations. That map, by the way, is ready to go and available at places like the Sag Harbor Chamber of Commerce’s Long Wharf Windmill.
During a brainstorming session, “I said I wish we could have an audio guide, like a museum, because Sag Harbor is like an outdoor museum,” Mr. Gazzolo said. The answer was “Why not?”
In its initial rollout, the app takes visitors to the sites included in the cultural district, starting with Bay Street Theater and going as far afield as the Eastville Community Historical Society and Canio’s Cultural Center, with stops at the Sag Harbor Historical Society, the Custom House, the Sag Harbor Whaling and Historical Museum, the John Jermain Memorial Library, the Old Whalers’ Church and Christ Episcopal Church.
The app also links to the Sag Harbor Historical Society’s own walking tour, which includes stops at more than 40 different historic locations in the village, while a third tour takes users on a similar historic tour put together by the Society for the Preservation of Long Island Antiquities, the organization which owns the Sag Harbor Custom House.
“It’s a great way of promoting individual tours but of also promoting individual institutions,” aid the artist April Gornik, who also worked on project.
“It often seems that our love of new technology is weakening our connection to the past,” Mr. Gazzolo said in an email. “We want this app to strengthen it by putting as much of Sag Harbor’s cultural and history as we can in the palm of your hand.”
“People don’t walk around the village,” Ms. Gornik added, suggesting that the standard visit to Sag Harbor focuses on shopping or dinner at a restaurant with perhaps a post-meal ice cream cone and stroll up Main Street. “The whole idea is to let people know there is life beyond Main Street, and walking, as we all know it, is the best way to do Sag Harbor.”
Plans are already afoot to expand the offerings, with an architectural tour and a walking tour of the Eastville neighborhood. Other ideas floating about include a tour that focuses on the homes of whaling captains, a literary tour, and a touring of the houses of famous women who have called Sag Harbor home.
For now, the app is available on android phones, although Mr. Gazzolo said approval from iTunes, which will make it available on iPhones and iPads, is imminent.
In the meantime, more fine-tuning is being done. Although the app began with Mr. Gazzolo’s desire to have an audio tour, sound is yet to come, but Emma Walton has agreed to provide the narration.
“If you don’t get things done, even in a slightly imperfect way, they don’t get done,” said Ms. Gornik, who held a fundraiser for the project at her home last week.
“We want this to be as inclusive as possible,” Mr. Gazzolo said, “it’s really to gather and curate all the great content and stories that are out there and get it to more people. If someone thinks this is a great idea, we’ll show them how it is done. The more the merrier.”
The group is also soliciting comments from users. They can be directed to email@example.com, Mr. Gazzolo said.
By Stephen J. Kotz