17 November 2014

Visualizing 1850s Richmond (VA) -- quite neat!

Without panoramic photos, digital cameras capable of shooting still images and movies, and more, it used to be challenging to imagine what a place/community/town/city looked like at a particular moment in time. One had to rely on a few still images, many words, and possibly a few maps, to try to visualize what an area may have looked like at the time when our ancestors lived there.

A neat and recent project, Visualizing the Past, attempts to do just what has not been possible – visualize a locale as it looked at a particular point in time.

Over the past several months, the DSL(*)  has been collaborating with the Library of Virginia, and Maurie McInnis, Vice Provost for Academic Affairs and Professor of art history at the University of Virginia on the To Be Sold– Virginia and the American Slave Trade exhibition. Read more about the exhibition below. Our role in the project was to create a 3D visualization of Richmond in the early 1850’s. The 3D visualization is used to help visitors envision Erye Crowe’s journey through Richmond, and experience the slave trade through his paintings and engravings. The models’ intent is not to replicate every detail of Richmond in 1853, but provide a sense of the architectural styles and atmosphere of the city at the time.

Another extension of the above project is discussed in Richmond Then and Now.

Of course, I couldn’t stop there, so I went searching and I found some other neat projects:

A summary of projects can be found here.

All of these are helpful to the research we do.  As a very visual person myself, I am always appreciative of any tools that assist me in visualizing a place and period in time.

Are you aware of other 3D Visualization Projects which can help us better “see” the world our ancestors lived in?

Editor’s Note: Other Upfront with NGS posts about 3D modeling.

(*) DSL stands for the Digital Scholarship Lab at the University of Richmond.

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