Capitol Hill Historical Society | A 3-D story map of Broadway and Denny in 1893

At a meeting this fall of the Capitol Hill Historical Society, geographic information system expert Lorn Fant left quite an impression after introducing his atlantean effort to build an historical and explorable 3-D map of Seattle using ArcGIS technology. His project is still in its early stages, but it has the potential to significantly alter the way we view and experience the history of the city.

Wishing to explore the possibilities, Lorn and I got together to put the map to use. To start, we decided to create a short virtual tour of the area around Broadway and Denny in 1893. He built the map and I did the research.

As you can see in the preview image below, the visuals are pretty basic and pixelated. For now.

An early 3-D Model of Broadway and Denny in 1893. Courtesy Lorn Fant. Click the image to begin the tour.

That’s because the currently available topographical map was never meant to be viewed this close. Once we get a higher resolution copy of the basemap, and better yet, access to more sophisticated tools, we can start recreating the area in much greater detail. That’s the pipe dream. For now, though, this our first crack at it.

A brief primer on Seattle’s early street naming and numbering system
In a word, it was chaos. You can read all about it in the 1890 article from the Seattle PI, pictured below. For our purposes though, Harvard Street was Villard Street and Denny Way was Depot Street back in 1893. Also, what is now the 100 block of Broadway East was the 1700 block back in 1893. Otherwise, some structures didn’t even have a number.

And if you made it this far, here’s the link to the 3-D story map again in case you missed it above:

Image via

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About Tom Heuser

I'm a co-founder of the Capitol Hill Historical Society and I occasionally research and write about neighborhood history for my column "The Capitol Retrospective" featured here on Capitol Hill Seattle and on my website You can also follow me on Facebook and Instagram where I share additional content.
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