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Columbia’s newest tour guide can’t eat or drink. But it can tell you where to go

A pictorial history of Main Street Columbia

Photographs from the John Hensel Collection at USC's Caroliniana Library show how the city has changed since 1950.
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Photographs from the John Hensel Collection at USC's Caroliniana Library show how the city has changed since 1950.

Museums? Check. Nightlife recommendations? Check. Local products? Upcoming concerts? Directions to catch a city bus? Check, check, check.

Columbia’s new downtown tour guide will even help you take a selfie.

A double-sided, touch-screen kiosk has popped up in the 1600 block of Main Street, between The Grand bowling alley and Lula Drake wine parlor, this week.

It’s a limited-time feature being tested by the city and the Experience Columbia SC tourism bureau to help visitors and residents find points of interest and navigate the downtown area, said Kelly Barbrey, the marketing director for Experience Columbia.

Digital tour guide kiosks are being used in some other cities around the country, including Louisville and Kansas City.

The Main Street kiosk is expected to come down sometime next week but will be up and running during Friday night’s block party for the U.S. Conference of Mayors meeting in town and throughout the weekend, Barbrey said.

Moving forward, the city could consider adding permanent digital kiosks downtown, Barbrey said. But there are no certain plans at this point.

“We’ll see where things go after we have a little more interaction,” Barbrey said.

New, non-digital signs to help people find their way around town will be going up soon, she added.

The old blue and yellow street signs pointing drivers toward attractions such as the Vista and the S.C. State House will be replaced with updated direction signs. They’ll be installed sometime before the city hosts the first and second rounds of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament in March, Barbrey said.

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