Digital Project: Creepy Crawly History Haunts

The neighborhoods of D.C. are full of history though not all of it is safe for your middle school social studies textbook. From our country’s early history to modern times, the people of D.C. have recorded occurrences of the strange, the scary, and the downright sinister right here, in these very streets. My digital project aims to research these spooky phenomena and turn the information I gather into a free online walking tour.

One attraction that many people visit in D.C. is the “Exorcist Stairs.” The Exorcists Stairs are a historical landmark and might be a good place for me to start my research into D.C.’s spooky history. While other tours may show just the stairs, I hope to give a greater historical context for these stairs and why they are so significant in D.C.’s history.

With my completed research, I can map out my tour and record my voiceover to match walkable locations in the city. Locating these recordings within the city is a critical part of this project because I intend to draw viewers’ attention to surroundings that they might otherwise have missed or passed by. My goal is to give tourists and D.C. residents a greater understanding of and appreciation for their city. Most of my audience will be adult thrill-seekers, but anyone interested in learning more about the city’s history would likely enjoy my tour. There are multiple applications I could use to apply audio to geolocations, but I have been most interested in using either Locosonic or Soundtrails Creative Sandpit. Both are audiowalk apps that enable users to make a map of audio recordings for people to listen to in order.

The main problem with the audiowalks apps is that they do not receive as much foot traffic as an app like TikTok or YouTube. To get the word out about my project, I would make short TikToks to introduce the tour, give a brief overview of the tour’s content, then end with a recommendation to follow a link to the audiowalk site.

In addition to hearing my voice, those who take the tour will also encounter soundscapes I create to make the experience more entertaining. Soundscapes are the combinations of sounds that make up the audio component of any one setting. I like to think of it as background noise brought to the forefront. Ambient sound is a critical part of our mind’s subconscious understanding of things like safety, familiarity, and place. Using soundscapes takes the tour beyond what any ordinary tour guide could accomplish by fully immersing the listener into the story.

2 Replies to “Digital Project: Creepy Crawly History Haunts”

  1. This is a super accessible spin on traditional walking tours! Not only does it increase who can experience local history, it also takes into consideration multiple senses. Because there isn’t a limitation of walking capability, would your tour look at historical places that would typically not be included on the same tour? Or would you stay true to the ‘traditional’ approach and think of it as a walking tour that has just been shifted to an online resource?

  2. Hi Sara! As a fan of horror and all things spooky or true crime, I really love this idea. I’m not sure what the temporal scale of your project is but one place that comes to mind would be Rock Creek Park and the 2002 unsolved murder of Chandra Levy. This might be too recent to include in a project like this but just wanted to share!

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