An Interactive 3D Model of the JFK Assassination Site, Grassy Knoll and All | Innovation | Smithsonian

An Interactive 3D Model of the JFK Assassination Site, Grassy Knoll and All

A Danish graphic designer has pieced together historic photos and maps to create an interactive digital diorama of the fateful moments

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JFK-22-nov-1963 from lpdenmark on Sketchfab. Click the first link to see this in wide screen view (recommended)

Untold reams of paper, barrels of ink and reels of film have been used to analyze and pick apart every detail of the assassination of John F. Kennedy in Dallas’ Dealey Plaza 50 years ago. But now there’s an entirely new way to examine the tragic event, made by Danish graphic designer Leif Sørensen: an interactive 3D diorama that shows the surrounding buildings and area, the path of each of Lee Harvey Oswald’s gunshots and the position of Kennedy’s car at these fateful moments.

Sørensen originally built the model for the Danish newspaper Fyens Stiftstidende to use in printed graphics, then uploaded it to the Sketchfab site, a platform for sharing interactive visualizations. “I thought it would be interesting to give people a feeling of what the place was really like,” he says. “A lot of people have seen maps, but this gives a little more feeling of the surroundings.”

He created the model using historic photos and maps, and used three straight lines to depict the three gunshots fired by Oswald from the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository. The green line represents a missed shot fired by Oswald—likely the first shot he fired, shortly after Kennedy’s limousine turned onto Elm Street, according to the Warren Commission, the body of Congressmen and other officials that investigated the assassination. The shorter red line shows the second shot, which hit the president in the upper back, passed through his body and hit Texas governor John Connally, who was sitting directly in front of him. The longer red line shows the third shot, which hit Kennedy in the head after his car had traveled a bit further down the street.

The model also shows a number of other key observers, including Abraham Zapruder, who inadvertently shot the most complete footage of the assassination (he’s shown in gray, standing on top of the curved concrete pergola structure) and Bill and Gayle Newman, who dropped to the grass near Zapruder to cover their children (shown in yellow, near the grassy knoll).

“Of course, we could have added many more people to the scene, and even more shots, but this is the official version, according to the Warren Commission’s report,” Sørensen says. “So we wanted to depict this as accurately as possible.”

Sørensen’s isn’t the only 3D model of the event—ESRI, the mapping software company, has also produced their own digital visualization, used in the video below:

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