Then and now: Web designer pays tribute to hometown

Web designer recently launched a project to capture the past and inspire the future through a documentary website that bines together the community, ambition and spirit of Williamsport.

Elaine Decker, owner of Kiski Spider Web Designs, is moving back to her hometown of Williamsport and commemorating the occasion with a passion project. Her initiative,, sets out to archive the pictorial history of the area, while documenting the history that happens every day.

“The difference between then and now is that Williamsport is progressing towards creating a better Pennsylvania. As Williamsport grows, the prosperity is swelling to outlying communities How wonderful it is that we are here to see it as it happens,” Decker said.

After leaving 25 years ago for Wilson College, in Chambersburg, Decker made monthly visits to see family and friends in Williamsport, watching her city grow into an industrial center. However, Decker recalls the quaint, endearing town that started it all.

“My biggest challenge is capturing it before it changes again – and then again. There is no end to our history, no boundary to our future. That is why I named the site Developing History, because that is what is happening, history is developing right before our eyes,” Decker said.

The website encapsulates old and new photographs of Williamsport, taking every visitor on a celebratory journey through history. Each historical photograph is mimicked to show the exact angle and perspective as it appears today.

“I started to think about how one could make sure that a documentation of this time of our growth could be preserved and shared in a fun and informative way. After some time, I came up with the idea of finding old pictures of places around Williamsport and then taking the same picture again from the same location at the same angle, and then show them side by side and put them on an easy to use website,” Decker said.

Decker finds many photos in the James V. Brown Library archives, but also turns to old postcards for inspiration. In a city that embraced change over the years, it’s rewarding for her to connect with the local community in an appreciation for the West Branch of the Susquehanna River.

“I was taking a picture of what used to be the very best candy store in all of Williamsport,” Decker said. “I was sure nobody would even know what this boarded up old building used to be, when a very nice, older gentleman, approached me and not only told me that he knew what the building was, but that he’d been in it and then he gave me even more information about it.”

The research began during the monthly visits home and Decker plans to relocate her Web design business to Williamsport, returning to a city that she never truly left.

For more information and to see more then and now photos of Williamsport, visit or search Developing History on Facebook.