New AR Project Brings Ghost Signs to Life

“Augmented History” makes Milwaukee's historic faded signs look new on mobile devices.

A new augmented reality (AR) project called “Augmented History” allows Milwaukee explorers to view faded ghost signs in the Historic Third Ward as if they were painted last week.

OnMilwaukee reports that the project, created by local marketing agency Hoffman York, used research, hundreds of historic photos, graphic design and mapping technology to recreate the signage in full color. Sign enthusiasts will be able to access the revived signs via QR codes on a neighborhood map.

“With ‘Augmented History,’ we’re not only preserving Milwaukee’s history; we’re making it interactive and accessible in a way that’s never been done before,” Hoffman York Executive Creative Director Mike Roe told the local publication.

Paper copies of that map are expected to be distributed in the neighborhood in May, just in time for summer walking tours. Locals can also find the tour and QR codes on the project website, OnMilwaukee reports.

Roe added: “It’s a portal to the past, offering a glimpse into the commercial vibrancy of old Milwaukee, all through the screen of your phone.”