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Los Angeles State Historic Park Launches Trails Marked Only By Smartphone

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Los Angeles State Historic Park, a park still in development, has recently opened three new trails in the park to inform and educate visitors about the site's history. However, what makes this so unusual is that they are only marked and accessible by a smartphone or tablet device.The three trails are only marked by accessing their website at lashp-trails.org, and only then, visitors have to walk towards the trailhead as directed by their device before any more information is made available to them. Once you reach the trailhead, you have the choice of three paths to take. Accessing the site by your desktop or laptop computer will redirect you to a site about the project. "You can only see the content and get information about places when you're actually standing there," said Taylor Fitz-Gibbon of the Interpretive Media Laboratory (IMLab) to KPCC. The IMLab is a collaboration between the the LASHP and UCLA Center for Engineering, Media and Performance, and also done in conjunction with the National Park Service.

The park is 32 acres of open space between Spring Street and the Gold Line tracks just north of Chinatown. Not quite fully developed yet, they once were the site of the Southern Pacific Transportation Company's River Station, which served as the stop most people disembarked at when coming from the East. The interactive trails were launched Thursday.

When using the mobile site and upon reaching the trailhead, visitors can choose from: the Park Rim Trail, a trek through the four neighborhoods adjacent to the park; the Pueblo-Chinatown Trail, a loop through the "birthplace" of Los Angeles; or the Elysian Hills Trail, which is takes people into a wilderness just outside of downtown Los Angeles.

"I think a huge part of this project is just to encourage walking in the city in general," said Fitz-Gibbon.

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Another goal of the project was to eventually allow users to upload and create their own content. "You could do a trail about skateboarding spots, you could do a trail about a certain type of food that you're interested in, and then people can log in and walk other people's trails," said Elizabeth Sonenberg of IMLab.