Thursday, November 17, 2011

Easton, Maryland Historic District Brought to Life with 3D Imagery by Washington College GIS Program

GIS plays a critical role in regional town planning issues especially when it comes to historic districts. While traditional GIS mapping of these areas have been vital to new development in these areas, the rise of 3D provides even greater visual awareness for decision-making. This is why we are excited about our efforts to help the Town of Easton bring its historic district to life in 3D.
Funded by the Maryland Historical Trust through a grant to Easton, our team of students and staff are busy creating 3D streetscapes in Easton, Maryland using Google Sketch-up and other software programs such as Geoweb3D ( They are also building a relational database and a historic GIS map of the town dating back to the 1800’s.

To comprehensively map the Easton Historic District, students are taking pictures of every building in the historic district to be entered into an Access database, which will be used to generate data entry forms for field surveys. A base GIS map will be created and will be linkable to the database. A variety of data sources will be used for this project, including color Sanborn maps from the Library of Congress, Geography and Map Division (, which will be georeferenced for the Town of Easton.

Students are also creating 3D buildings, with a focus on complete streetscapes, using Google Sketch-up for 120 buildings in the Historic District that will be viewable in Google Earth. An essential part of this phase of the project is aerial imagery provided by Aloft Aerial Photography so the students can have a complete image of each building ( The Town of Easton is thinking proactively about using these 3D streetscapes to aid in town planning issues, especially those relating to new development in the Historic District. Once the 3D streetscapes are completed, a video animation of the Historic District in 3D will be created and shared on the web. This animation work is made possible through the donation of a Quadro 6000 video card from NVIDIA which is perhaps the best video card for producing graphics intensive videos such as we are using (

Written by staff member Erica Rhoades.

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