Picture the mind of a first-time visitor to the city, wandering downtown in the baking sun after three beers.
They’re ready to explore all Saratoga Springs has to offer, explained Bill Dake, chairman of the board for Stewart’s Shops Corp. and a member of the Saratoga 150 Committee. But without something to catch their eye — a simple trigger to draw their attention — the visitor might never notice the rich heritage the Spa City has to offer.
“They’re in a curious mode, they’re ready for input,” he said. “All they need is a trigger to find out what’s going on.”
Enter the new interactive quarter poles placed around the city. Designed after the golden-topped red-and-white markers at the Saratoga Race Course, the new poles bear a quick response (QR) code that allows anyone with a smartphone to quickly access an informational site about the city with the push of a finger.
Purchased with some of the remaining funds from the track’s 150th anniversary celebration, there are seven quarter poles posted at strategic areas around downtown. Three others are arranged around the Saratoga Race Course in areas where there is a lot of foot traffic.
The code on the side of the posts brings visitors to ViewSaratoga.com, an interactive site that allows them to tour some of the city’s history. The site includes 11 subheadings that show photos of the city both past and present.
Though now dedicated to displaying quick facts and pictures of the city, Dake said the site could one day become a place where visitors could be linked to a variety of services in the city. One day, he said the quarter poles could link visitors to the box office at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center or to local cab services.
“We will be continually upgrading it over the coming months,” he said.
The poles are also constructed with heavier tipplers in mind. Dake said a 7-inch-thick steel pole runs through the center of each wooden marker and is bolted to the concrete so they can withstand punishing onslaughts.
In addition to the poles, the committee also purchased 10 new street signs to direct visitors to the historic thoroughbred track. The signs — brown with white lettering — came at the suggestion of New York Racing Association President Chris Kay after he noticed there was an absence of markers to guide visitors to the track during his first visit to the city last year.
Mayor Joanne Yepsen said getting track visitors to their intended destination easier could also reduce some traffic congestion caused by those who are misdirected to other parts of the city.
“These are seasonal temporary signs put up around the city to not only direct people to the race course, but to help with traffic flow around the city,” she said.