Thursday, February 17, 2011

City history comes alive on Facebook
(as published in the Daily Gleaner, February 17/11)

Want Facebook friends? Talk history. That's what Juan Estepa, manager of heritage and cultural affairs for the city, has learned.

Estepa has gone to the social-media site in partnership with York Sunbury Historical Society to start unrolling information about Fredericton's Local Historic Places Register and to upload some of the society and city's collections of historic postcards.

"We've had 5,000 views just on the historic postcards, and that's just a fraction of the information. We've hit a very positive nerve with the public," Estepa told the city's development committee Tuesday. "Because of this partnership, it's driving visitors to the Fredericton Region Museum, formerly known as the York Sunbury Museum (in Officers Square). They've experienced a substantial increase to their blog and increasing visits to the museum."

Given the successful dabbling with Facebook, Estepa said he's hoping to post more data, including information about studies underway on historic neighbourhoods in the city.
Estepa is working on a heritage preservation area study of the St. Mary's neighbourhood and on the former downtown industrial area surrounding the former railway lands.
That section of the city was historically known as Rabbit Town for the large working-class families who eked out a living working in what was once the city's industrial centre.

"We've got years' worth of content, but if we release it all at once, it's too much for people to absorb," Estepa said. Releasing information bit by bit keeps friends and fans coming back for more, he said.

The Facebook page is called Fredericton Local Historic Places Register.

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