Wednesday, January 24, 2018

1890's Seattle in 3D

The Capitol Hill Historical Society is using Esri's CityEngine to recreate a 3D map of Seattle as it looked in the 19th Century. The result is Broadway and Denny in 1893, a 3D map of the area around Broadway and Denny.

The map sidebar provides a fascinating guided tour of 19th Century Seattle. As you scroll through the tour you are shown around the 3D model of historical Seattle while learning about the city's historical buildings and the people who lived in them. You are shown the homes of some of Seattle's earliest families, such as the Taylors, the Lloyds and the Pinckneys.

The map is still under development but already provides a neat demonstration of how CityEngine can be used to recreate historical locations in 3D. The 3D buildings on this map, at the moment, are little more than basic cubes but even so the map is still able to convey a real sense of the city in the 19th Century. The vintage base-map of Seattle is also not great when viewed up close.

I believe the Capitol Hill Historical Society hopes to find a more high-definition base-map and create more sophisticated building models, which will only help to create a more realistic map of old Seattle. Perhaps one day it will even rival Geneve 1850.

Geneve 1850 is the gold standard of 3D historical maps. In the nineteenth century Swiss architect Auguste Magnin created an amazing 3D model of the walled city of Geneva. You can visit the physical 3D model at the Maison Tavel in Geneva. Alternatively you can immerse yourself in the interactive 3D map of Geneve 1850 instead.

Geneve 1850 is an epic online interactive model of 1850's Geneva. The map allows you to immerse yourself in and explore Geneva as it looked in the mid-nineteenth century. To create this digital model of historic Geneva engineers scanned Magnin's original model in high definition. They were then able to recreate the 2,000 buildings (and their 40,000 windows and 8,000 skylights) in this digital model of the original.

The result is truly impressive. You can explore the city at street level, wandering around old Geneva on the ground. Alternatively you can take a bird's eye view tour of the city, flying a few feet above the city's rooftops. A menu provides a long list of important landmarks in the city which allows you to quickly navigate to different places in the city. Information points on the map also allow you to read about the history of the city's most iconic buildings.

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