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110 Stories: New app gives illusion that Twin Towers still stand

What did the Twin Towers look like from a roof on Fire Island? From the West 4th Street subway station? Those images can soon be re-created right in the palm of your hand.

Brian August had a vision. Or, perhaps, you could call it an illusion.

“What I’m doing is presenting something iconic that means different things to different people. I’m stirring their memory and taking them back to a time and place of their choosing,” he says.

August, an NYC native who lives in Brooklyn, is creating a free app that will let people re-experience the image of the Twin Towers in NYC’s skyline using GPS and augmented reality. With 110 Stories, you will be able to snap a photo of the landscape within about 30 miles from where the skyscrapers once stood, and then watch as they appear in that photo before your eyes.

From there, app users will be directed to a comment zone where they express how that photo makes them feel, or share a memory it’s brought to mind. Despite some debate with people close to him, August says he has decided to make leaving a comment a mandatory step within the app.

“This is going to be a repository of memories,” says August. “Everything from when it was built to September 11, 2001. The app is about a 30 year history of these buildings that our lives were wrapped up in, that’s sort of been forgotten.”

People can, however, post anonymously. The photos and comments can be viewed on 110stories.com where they will be represented by pins on a map of the 30-mile radius surrounding Ground Zero.

The project has already generated more than $27,000 through Kickstarter, a website that lets people market their project ideas and ask for funding. August says he’s working closely with his development teams Zero Innovates and doPanic to launch the app for the iPhone and Android by the first week of September. He’s been in touch with both Google and Apple to make sure the process goes smoothly.

His goal is to someday work with an artist to build physical installments around the city where people can sit and view the cityscape with the illusion that the towers still stand.

August says he might also consider designing another app in the future that would let people place the image of the skyscrapers in other landscapes outside of NYC. For example, someone in Colorado would be able to see what the Twin Towers would have looked like in the Rocky Mountains.

For now, August is focused on the purity of his original vision. He says he knows there are people who might think 110 Stories is morbid, but he insists that the app is about the history and “lives” of the buildings, not just 9/11. He says it’s allowed to be what anyone wants it to be.

“New Yorkers get this more than anybody. They grew up and lived here amongst the towers. Some people don’t want to think about it anymore, and that’s fine. At the end of the day, it’s an art project.”

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