UTSA 3-D Models Make 300 Years of Alamo Plaza Come to Life

A UTSA architecture professor is working on a 3-D enhanced reality model which will let us see Alamo Plaza across the plaza's 300 years of history, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.

Richard Tangum, who is a professor of Urban and Regional Planning, says over the last three centuries, Alamo Plaza, which is one of the most recognized urban spaces in the country, has served a variety of functions, and his research will use old photographs and new technology to enable us to experience all of them.

"At one point in time the Opera House was there, and there were movie theaters there as well," he says of the 1920s. "I was a major entertainment place, and if you wanted to go down to 'where the action was' you went to Alamo Plaza. I heard stories of John Phillip Sousa playing in the Opera House."

There have been many buildings on Alamo Plaza over the past 300 years, and using the photographs, drawings, and paintings of them that still exist, those buildings can be brought back to life in virtual reality.

"With photographs what we are trying to do is recreate the Plaza in 1910, 1890, and various time frames, way back to the Mission period."

Tangum says his 3-D modeling will enable an 'accurate and in-depth view' of events on the Plaza like the mustering of Teddy Roosevelt's Rough Riders, and the day in the 1870s when Western hustler John 'Bet a Million' Gates unleashed cattle into the Plaza to demonstrate the new invention 'barbed wire' for skeptical ranchers.

For example, a 1912 model allows users to explore a painstaking recreation of the Plaza that includes the buildings around the Alamo designed and modeled to their historical specifications, Virtual depiction of San Antonio citizens stroll the Plaza surrounded by Ford Model T cars, horses, and carriages, and figures depicting the famous and long-gone Chili Queens of San Antonio.

And, of course, another interactive model depicts the siege and battle of the Alamo, featuring Mexican soldiers and Alamo defenders like Bowie and Crockett.

"Where you can actually fly and move through the area, and actually have a person, who is a resident in that time frame, talk to you."


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