3D images of Alamo Plaza transport viewers back in time

Researchers at UTSA using technology to show evolution of Alamo Plaza

By Justin Horne - Weather Authority Meteorologist/Reporter

SAN ANTONIO - Technology has brought civilization a long way, and in the case of Alamo Plaza, it is now taking visitors back in time. 

“There's a lot of detail that goes into this because we are looking at every source of information we can find,” said Dr. Richard Tangum, director of urban and regional planning at the University of Texas at San Antonio.  

Using piles of old maps, diaries and historical documents, Tangum has spent 25 years to get to where he is today.  

“I've always been fascinated with Alamo Plaza,” Tangum said. "I have memories and stories from my family, my experiences in the plaza."

Tangum set out to understand the evolution of one of San Antonio’s greatest treasures. Over time, technology has helped tell the story. The results are fascinating 3D images of Alamo Plaza and, in particular, a finished fly-through of the scene there in 1912.  

In the fly-through created by the team at UTSA, viewers can actually see the famed Chili Queens dressed in period clothing. The details are impeccable.  

“To construct one building can take months,” said Tangum of the design software.

The project has been worked on in bits and pieces over the years, with small amounts of funding coming from UTSA. All who have worked on it have described it as a labor of love.  

“I think my first building was the Opera House, which I didn't know it existed,” said Luis Zamora, a research scientist in the urban and regional planning department at UTSA.

Zamora has helped create a virtual experience of the 3D animations, transporting the viewer back in time. More 3D images of different stages of Alamo Plaza are currently being worked on.  

“There's a lot of stories that people probably don't know because they just look at the Alamo and just care about the battle,” Zamora said.

In the end, Tangum hopes the work ends up in a museum so that the story of Alamo Plaza can be shared with everyone.

"I’m proud of what we've accomplished so far, but there's still a lot more to learn and sort out,” Tangum said.  

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