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Dallas History

Dig Dallas History? Kevin Costner Has an App for That.

HearHere knows where you are and tells you secrets about your surroundings.
By Leslie Fuentes |
Courtesy HearHere

When I heard about an app that makes it possible to drive around as a familiar voice recounts the history of the very road I’m driving on, I thought, “I could go on driving forever.” Not literally forever, but the first time that I used HearHere, I found myself taking the long way home. I was on 67 learning about Duncanville’s transformation from a settlement community to a transportation hub to a suburb. I saw my exit approaching, but the lesson wasn’t over. History went on for miles and miles ahead of me.

I now know about Crawford’s Tornado Graveyard, a place forgotten and lost for about 100 years. And I know about Raymond Hamilton, a sidekick to Bonnie and Clyde who robbed the First State Bank of Cedar Hill in 1932, only minutes away from my home.

Since the app’s launch in 2020, HearHere’s stories have grown and expanded throughout the United States. It now has a database of more than 8,800 lessons about culture, history, nature, music, sports, and more.

My first impression using it around Dallas? I learned by the mile, and I didn’t even have to leave my car. The storytelling voices are familiar, and then they’re not. Kevin Costner and John Lithgow do not recount all the stories, but the other voice actors won’t let you down. Use HearHere when you’re driving alone, unless the people traveling with you are in for a few history lessons and don’t mind riding around in a classroom.

My lasting impression of the app? I found that after a few routine drives, history repeated itself. It is meant for road trippers. The app is designed to offer you a tour of places that you don’t often frequent, so if you can, allow it to do just that. I can best describe it as a private museum tour granted through the use of your geolocation in which you discover hidden stories—one that allows you to retrace your steps because you also have access to the U.S. map that collects all featured stories you may have listened to.  

If seeing is believing for you, the app may not tap into all your senses. I was somewhere along Zang Boulevard. A notification on my phone announced the Trinity River, but it was nowhere in sight. I knew that it wasn’t too far off, but someone new to Dallas would have expected to catch a glimpse of it within minutes. The app also suggested it was time I learned about the State Fair of Texas. I was traveling between Loop 12 and I-20. No Ferris wheel towered above me.

Whether you’re traveling, just passing by, or heading to work, you can give it shot without a huge commitment. You can sign up with a free account to access five stories. If you decide that five brief lessons are not enough for you, a yearly subscription with unlimited access comes at $36.

The app was a call for me to be more mindful of the spaces I travel through. It is a well-spoken reminder that there is more than meets the eye. There are stories and histories hidden behind many of the sights we pass every day. There are more than 250 HearHere stories in Texas, and 100 of those are in North Texas. There are enough stories here to keep you entertained for several drives, but to experience the app’s offerings, you should go the distance.

The app is as clever as its name. As it suggests, HearHere prompts you to listen to the stories of the places that you visit, encouraging you to keep going.

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