landmark project models
new york's historical landmarks in vrml

The landmark models will be added to the SIG's Web site as they are completed. To view the models, Web visitors will need to download a VRML plug-in for a Web browser from either Cosmo software ( or Microsoft ( Internet Explorer has a built-in VRML browser created by InterVista. The Microsoft VRML 2.0 Viewer is an Internet Explorer add-on.

Cosmo has announced a Cosmo Player plug-in for the Macintosh that will be available Spring 1998. Look for help files and tutorials for tips on navigating with your VRML plug-in software. Some of the models include "viewpoints" which can act as a navigation aid.

Landmark models are arranged by category and by date of construction giving viewers a sequential overview of the city's architectural development:


Early Manhattan

In 1647, Peter Stuyvesant arrived in New Amsterdam and became the director general of New Netherland. As English settlers moved into New Amsterdam, Peter Stuyvesant's overbearing manner became unpopular. In 1664, influential English citizens persuaded Peter Stuyvesant to turn the town over to the English and it became New York named for the Duke of York.

Peter Stuyvesant's estate originally covered the area from the present Fourth Avenue to the East River and from Fifth to 17th Streets.

New York grew from 1500 people in 1665 to 25,000 in 1775. Fire was a great destroyer of early New York. In September 1776, shortly after Washington's army left Manhattan Island, a fire swept through the city, leaving one-fourth of it in ruins. By 1800, the city's population had reached 60,515 and extended as far North as Canal Street and on the Hudson River side it reached Greenwich Village.

By 1806, the City Council devised a plan for future growth that included a rectangular grid with wide avenues running north-south and all streets above 14th Street running east-west from river to river and perpendicular to the avenues. Avenues were numbered from 1 to 12 and four short avenues were lettered A, B, C and D. The streets were numbered as far north as 155th Street. Although most of the island was open land with farms, squatters and large estates, the city would proceed to build within the confines of a grid.

By 1840, the population of New York had passed the 300,000 mark and was called a "semi-barbarous metropolis." Immigrants were arriving from Europe in record numbers and by 1864, more than half of the city lived above 14th Street. Manhattan would soon undergo a revolution in the way its buildings were built, in their size and in their height.



Skyscrapers were born in Chicago rising out of the city's worst fire that reduced about a third of the city including the business district. Out of the city's ashes rose a large-scale development effort with new construction materials and with surging land prices, building taller was cheaper than building wider on a larger plot.

Skyscrapers have evolved through seven design periods:
    Functional Period  1880-1900
    The Eclectic Period  1900-1920
    The Art Deco Period  1920-1940
    The International Style  1950-1970
    The Supertall Period  1965-1975
    The Social Skyscraper  1970- 1980
    The Postmodern Period  1980-


Public Transportation

Grand Central Terminal
In the early 1900s, it was clear that horse drawn vehicles, steam-powered vehicles and elevated railroads were inadequate to support New York's massive population. In 1900, Manhattan had a population of 1,850,000 and by 1920, the population had grown to 2,330,000. On March 24, 1900, work began on an underground rapid-transit system connecting all boroughs except Staten Island. With this new form of transportation, people were able to work in Manhattan and live elsewhere.


Street Furniture

Sidewalk Clocks
Introduced in the 1860s, sidewalk clocks were installed for advertising purposes in front of a merchant's store to attract street traffic. Originally designed with weights that gradually descended, cast-iron street clocks were able to keep time for about eight days.


Borough Landmarks

Borough of Queens
Of New York's five boroughs (Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx and Staten Island), only the Bronx is part of mainland New York. Manhattan and Staten Islands are islands and Brooklyn and Queens are on the western end of Long Island.


Unofficial Landmarks

The landmark project's "unofficial" list includes historical sites that are not on the Landmark Commission's official list and models that have been created with VRML 1.0. Because Cosmo Player can "see" VRML 1.0 models, artists who wish to build VRML 1.0 models may submit a project.