Google Earth is an amazing tool for viewing the present, but it can also be a great tool for visualizing the past. We’ve seen many examples of that over the years, and the latest comes from the Virtual Grounds Interactive, as part of a project for the Shaker Heritage Society in Albany, New York.
Their ‘Virtual Watervliet‘ project showcases a Google Earth interface with low-polygon 3D models of America’s First Shaker Settlement in four periods of time: 1798-1838-1925-2012. The project focuses on the buildings in the publically accessible portions of the Historic Shaker District known as the Church Family, and it is intended for online and also on-site visitors. It also offers a mobile website, a location based augmented reality channel, and multiple online opportunities to interact and learn from historical images, music, and virtual buildings.
The integration with the Google Earth Plug-in is quite impressive. They have a variety of features built into the interface including a guided tour, various timeline tours and more. Beyond that, they have maps and historical photographs overlaid on top of the digital reconstruction of the Shaker site — be sure to check out ‘Inner Gate’, ‘Looking North’, and ‘Shakers in Cart’, as they’re quite unique!
You can view it all on the Shaker Heritage site.