Six students (of history? architecture? illustration?) have produced a 3½-minute video imagining what London before the Great Fire of 1666 must have been like. The animation is lifelike but the buildings are figments of their historical imaginations, variations of the half-timber affairs that bring Shakespeare’s London to mind. In this fabrication the viewer flies through the streets, up and down Pudding Lane and other parts of the town just as dawn breaks upon the ancient metropolis. Londonist.com notes:
Although most of the buildings are conjectural, the students used a realistic street pattern [taken from historical maps] and even included the hanging signs of genuine inns and businesses, mentioned in diaries from the period.
The students, from De Montfort University, are Chelsea Lindsay, Dan Peacock, Luc Fontenoy, Joe Dempsey, Dan Hargreaves and Dominic Bell. They won first prize in the Off the Map contest, sponsored in part by the computer game industry. They’ve done a marvelous job and you really do feel as if you are flying through actual history. I think at one point you may even see the beginning of the fire. The website linked to above also links to animated depictions or models of ancient Rome, Washington, D.C., circa 1814 and other historical cuisine. The Washington project is not far along into production – one hopes to visit the site again in a year – but the Rome product is a final work and fascinating, though not detailed with the quite same graphic lushness as this flight through London, circa 1666.