Taking a Detour Through the Castro’s History

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In a city as vibrant as San Francisco, it can be hard to remember that it has a lot of history as well—but the company Detour is working to change that. 


Advertised as "stories that take you places," Detour uses modern smart phone technology to give users a historical tour of specific locations. While they have a whole series of San Francisco locations, the tour of the Castro narrated by Cleve Jones, now in his 60s and still living in the area, is especially intriguing.  

Starting out at Harvey Milk Civil Rights Academy, tourists are taken through a winding expedition of the diverse and beautifully kept neighborhood known as the Castro. The history of the area seems to come to life with Jones' narration of the LGBTQ rights movement. 

As Detour's website says, "Imagine walking through the Castro with a key figure in almost every twist and turn of San Francisco’s historic fight for gay rights…

"Cleve helped Harvey Milk get elected when no other openly gay man had succeeded in California. After Milk was killed, Cleve inherited his famous bullhorn and used it to lead some of the most impassioned marches in gay history."

The story he tells gives tourists today a better appreciation of the Castro and the struggle of the LGBT community. Jones’ story doesn’t just cover the 1960s, either; he goes on to talk about the AIDS epidemic, culminating in the creation of the NAMES Project (also known as the AIDS quilt). 

Hearing a firsthand account of history in the making as you stand in the very spot being described brings it to life in a way that no movie or history book ever could. 

Detour works with your GPS, and each story point is triggered when you reach it. As a guided tour, it also directs you to walk to certain points, and counts down the distance between them. You walk up and down the hills (getting some exercise in the process) and see beautiful architecture as you hear stories from the past. 

The app is currently available for iOS, and an Android version is scheduled to be released hopefully by the end of 2015. 

- Emily Rush, originally published in 429 MagazineFor more original LGBT content, go to dot429.com

To see Detour CEO Andrew Mason's favorite spots in San Francisco, click here

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