A digital look at D.C.’s history

Posted by on Sep 3, 2008 in Dirt, Research and Engagement | No Comments

Scott Berg at the Washington Post had a fascinating article about a project on Washington, D.C., where researchers are attempting to recreate the original landscape of the City when George Washington sent L’Enfant to plan the City. Through various uses of GIS (the image to the right is a two maps overlayed on each other, the work of GIS) and archival work, they are beginning to unearth the original landscape. They already have a good idea of what early Washington looked like, as evidenced by the video at the website, in addition to the interactive maps depicting the changesthat have taken place since 1791.

Some of you may remember my previous discussion about similar projects at the University of Virginia, entitledRomeReborn. These projects are both instrumental in the pursuit of recreating the past. Although the D.C. project does not appear to use any archaeology, they do utilize concepts and strategies that are used in historical and archaeological research when determining chronologies or human behavior. Being able to recreate a landscape such as this is a critical way to see things that you may not be able to recognize through the historical or archaeological record, and therefore provide a wealth of information regarding the environment in which early Americans may have lived.