What L’Enfant Saw

Feb 25 2011

UMBC’s Imaging Research Center (IRC) is working to re-create Washington DC in its early years 1790-1820.  Remarkably little visual information remains from this time period.  What began as a simple effort to use 3D digital re-creation and display techniques has become full-scale research to uncover the original landscape.  In 1791, Pierre-Charles L’Enfant arrived in Georgetown […]

Wrapping Up Young’s Plantation

Aug 22 2011

This post represents the conclusion of our pilot phase of visualizing Notley Young’s plantation in 1790.   If you are new to this site, you can follow our progress by reading back through the posts.  To immediately see our tests, you can start with this “then and now” panorama of the Plantation as seen from the […]

1790 Young Plantation: View from Potomac Park

Aug 22 2011

This would be the view of the Plantation as a 1790 traveler came up the Potomac to Georgetown.  Currently the camera is on Ohio Drive in Potomac Park, but in 1790, it would have been on a boat in the river.   Notley Young’s Mansion has been described as “painted white,” “yellow brick,” and “red brick.”   […]

1790 Young Plantation: View from Freeway Bridge

Aug 22 2011

Today the camera is on the SE Freeway Bridge, but in 1790 it would have been located at the top of trees surrounding one of Young’s graveyards.  (Note: all locations are approximate.  The graveyard, as indicated on a King Plat survey, may not be exactly on the sidewalk below, but it was probably within 120 […]

Panorama Camera Locations

Aug 22 2011

This map is of Notley Young’s Plantation in 1794 overlaid and registered on top of a Google Street Map.  It shows the camera locations (magenta) where the contemporary panoramas were taken and where the virtual cameras were located to render out views of the 1790 Plantation.  Click the image or here to see a high […]

1790 Young Plantation: View from Banneker Park

Aug 22 2011

This combination of the two views is perhaps a bit over-dramatic, but it’s accurate.  Young’s mansion was on a bluff that sat approximately 25’ above the river.  Banneker Park is now much higher.  Currently, part of the mansion would be underground.  It is positioned correctly, but if anything, it could be even lower into the […]

1790 Young Plantation: View from 9th Street Bridge

Aug 22 2011

The 9th Street Bridge over the SE Freeway offers a possible view of the plantation as a traveler approached it.  This view again highlights how much earth has been moved over the years.  Click the image or here to see the panorama. Take full advantage of the mapping and linking that the host site, 360cities.net, offers for […]

1790 Young Plantation Model

Aug 22 2011

This is a rendered view of the model for the 1790 Notley Young Plantation that we used for our tests.  It is far from complete, but it’s a good representation of how the plantation may have looked.  More importantly, it provides a range of possibilities and challenges for how best to present this data in […]

Just Two Centuries Later…

Jun 11 2011

SouthWest Freeway and 9th Street We were down in SW Washington DC at Benjamin Banneker Park and L’Enfant Plaza last week and positioned the camera where there would be a good contrast between 1790 and 2011 views.  The above one will hopefully work well.  The driveway and entrance to Notley Young’s mansion went diagonally directly […]

A Classic Entrance to Young’s Plantation?

May 29 2011

We’ve been working on refining the layout to Notley Young’s Plantation and the two available King Plats are indicating that there may have been a classic straight tree-lined driveway up to the mansion.  The layout of the fences and the position of the “Coach House” are the strongest indicators.  We would like to move ahead […]

2nd Coffee Break at David Burnes’ Farmhouse

May 8 2011

To keep his sanity while helping to merge more than 300 square miles of polygonal terrain, IRC 3D Animator Phillip Thomas took breaks (though he doesn’t drink coffee) and modeled David Burnes’ house from 1790. David Burnes’ farmhouse sat at what is now 17th  and B Street, NW.  Much of Burnes’ pre-revolutionary war plantation became […]

Notley Young’s Mansion…and Chapel?

Mar 12 2011

We’ve been working on modeling Notley Young’s Mansion.  There is very little information other than the footprint that appears on the 1794 King Plat (above), and a very small hand drawn image of the house on the John Frederick Augustus Priggs’ 1790 map (below). But neither of these images match the written descriptions of the […]

Hammering on Young’s Plantation

Dec 19 2010

After working on the 1790 terrain, IRC 3D Animator Phillip Thomas is finally getting to do what he does best: modeling. He is slowly hammering his way through the more than twenty buildings that make up Notley Young’s 1790 Plantation. The images here represent only the building’s geometry. The textures that will be applied later to all the surfaces will make them look like weathered or new wood, shingles, bricks, stone, etc.

Laying Out Notley Young’s Plantation

Sep 26 2010

In the mid 1790s, after the new city had been surveyed and streets marked, the dwellings of all the original land owners were surveyed and located on the “King Plats.”  These early maps now provide the best information as to where buildings were located, but, unfortunately, the maps only give the barest of details for […]

Start Date 1790. Make It So.

Aug 21 2010

We’ve selected to re-create Notley Young’s Plantation circa 1790 as a pilot. Above are the more than twenty buildings (in blue) that make up its estate overlaid on top of a contemporary Google street map of SW Washington. The fact that the many of buildings’ positions currently lie in an open space (Benjamin Banneker Park) […]

Geometry and The Perfect Quad

Jul 5 2010

The last three months saw one of those painful and critical steps that few speak or care about: converting the elevation data to a 3D polygonal mesh that can be used in animations and real-time simulations.  We wanted to do it once and right, and assure that the final mesh could be easily used in […]

Polished 1790 carat Diamond

May 2 2010

Virginia is attached!  Need we say more?  We’d like to think that this is the most accurate and complete topographical map of the District of Columbia in 1790 that exists. It’s interesting to note that this map represents decades of work by the historical cartographer Donald Hawkins, years of work by Peter Chirico’s USGS group, […]

“Then and Now” Techniques, Part II

Mar 28 2010

In 1813, the architect Benjamin Henry Latrobe did a quick sketch of the US Capitol being built. We used this sketch as a test to see how non-photorealistic rendering styles (a technical term meaning painterly or illustrative) could work to visualize the early city of Washington DC.  The first impulse for doing re-creations is to make them […]

Diamond In the Rough

Jan 15 2010

After months of working, Lindsay Schroader has completed a 1790 version of the District of Columbia, but it doesn’t include the section of Virginia that originally was included in the District. It’s a diamond in the rough with a chunk out of the lower left.

“Then and Now” Techniques, Part I

Nov 14 2009

A major challenge to any historical re-creation is the “So what?” or “Why should I care?” test. Part of the success of this effort to re-create early Washington will rely on how to make historical findings compelling and interesting to the public.  In a conversation with Scott Berg, author of a book on Pierre L’Enfant, […]

Back to the Basics: a Solid Foundation

Sep 10 2009

To illustrate the architectural work of Benjamin Henry Latrobe, the visualization of Washington originally centered on the US Capitol in the early 1800s.  In spite of productive research work on this location and time period, we learned how little information was available and the great interest that existed in our effort.  It is now clear […]