If you’ve ever found a piece of light blue beach glass at the Belfast waterfront, or wondered why the large advertisement on the east side of the Consumer’s Fuel building lists hay and straw among the company’s commodities, the tour guides of the newly formed Revival Tours have explanations for these and loads of other trivial details about Belfast.

But what the walking tours do best is to offer a useful way to think about the more than 250-year history of the city, which, according to David Loxterkamp, one of the founders of Revival Tours, is defined by the rise and fall of a succession of industries, from the early years of European settlement when every tree for 70 miles inland was cut for lumber, to the arrival of high-tech industries in the mid-1990s.

In a word: revival. And while the history of Belfast could be seen as a series of failures, Revival Tours takes its name from the idea that residents of the “Broiler Capital of the World,” or the “Biggest Little City in Maine,” or any number of other identities, have always managed to roll with the changes.

“There’s a spirit in this community that things are going to be OK,” Loxterkamp said. “Something’s always going to come along and pick it up. From shipbuilding to the shoe industry to the back-to-the-landers, to the telemarketing industry.”

On Aug. 19, Loxterkamp, a Belfast-based physician, who describes himself as part of the “yuppie contingent” of the back-to-the-land movement, was giving a tour to an architect who had expressed an interest in the historic downtown buildings. But he said many people who have taken Revival Tours are more interested in knowing what life is like in Belfast today.

“What do people do here? What’s it like in the winter? To hell with these buildings,” he said, imitating, tongue-in-cheek, what a tour-taker might say.

But architecture and the lives of people are not unrelated, and Loxterkamp shed a significant amount of light on this during the course of the 75-minute tour.

The vast halls that still occupy the upper floors of a number of buildings in Belfast, most located north of High Street, were hubs of social life a century ago. The factories, many long gone, were where people worked, and worked hard, often for very little money.

Belfast’s hard luck over the years has had some benefits, according to Loxterkamp, specifically in the preservation of a number of beautiful historic buildings. Most of the downtown was constructed more than a century ago, a point that he demonstrated along the way, holding up historical photos for comparison.

In the intervening years, the city has never been prosperous enough to entertain the kind of urban renewal schemes that have erased the historic downtowns of other communities. One notable exception that Loxterkamp pointed out is the Governor Crosby home, which stood behind the post office until it was demolished in 1963 to make way for a shopping center.

“There are a lot of places we have to think about out of memory and photographs, but a lot of old Belfast still exists,” Loxterkamp said.

Loxterkamp pointed out both on the tour, including the sites of bygone buildings like the Windsor Hotel, the massive shoe factory that stood on Lower Main Street for a century, and the Coliseum, which once stood on a now-vacant Lower Main Street lot next to Awesome Diner and included a skating rink with seating for 500 people.

A brochure for Revival Tours hints at other parts of Belfast’s history. “Belfast is about: Sasparilla, Day of Infamy, Great Conflagrations, Fugitive Slave, Cacklebirds,” it reads. “… Stealth Tower, Peyton Place, Wigwams …”

For more information on Revival Tours, call 939-1568 or visit revivaltours.com.