The Post has a fascinating story (and neat-o interactive feature!) about architectural historian Don Alexander Hawkins’ efforts to reconstruct the topography of Washington, DC as Pierre L’Enfant would have seen it as he arrived in 1791.
Doesn’t sound fascinating? Okay, fair. Maybe I’m projecting. But Hawkins’ project has put him in contact with Dan Bailey, who runs UMBC’s Imaging Research Lab, and together they’re putting together the little record we have of old Washington- old drawings, paintings, and even verbal descriptions in travelers’ letters home- into a painstaking digital model of Washington as it was at the turn of the 19th century.
It’s surprising that so little similar research has been done into the geographical context of the nation’s capital, and these digital reconstructions are helpful visual reminders that even after the Capitol was built (and I had no idea the rotunda wasn’t originally part of the building) and functioning, sheep were still grazing half a mile away.