The community is dedicated to remembering what happened at Stonewall and the people who made it happen. But what about the building itself? While old, brickface buildings in New York might be pretty sturdy, everything is subject to the wear and tear of time. That’s why the 3D mapping of Stonewall is so important.
CyArk, a nonprofit that specializes in heritage and the 3D mapping of history, is taking on this project for Pride month and the 50th anniversary of Stonewall. This is the first project of its kind to pay tribute to an LGBTQ monument in such a way.
“Our mission is to capture, share, and archive the world’s cultural heritage,” said John Ristevski, CEO and chairman of CyArk. “We do that by using state-of-the-art, 3D mapping tools. We create a very, very accurate record, and we utilize U.S. drone imagery to create a really precise, high-fidelity surface model of cultural heritage sites all across the world.”
Often, their sites are things like ancient structures built hundreds or thousands of years ago. This month, the focus is the little bar that started it all. The idea is to get an exact picture of what the site looks like now, which is similar to how it looked in 1969. Then, even thousands of years from now, there will be a clear record.
“We have millions and millions of data points from the 3D laser scanner and thousands of high-resolution images,” Ristevski added. “We’ve been working on processing them into a full, accurate, 3D model on the side. It took a few months to get everything processed, and now we can archive it for posterity. We can also look at ways that we can start to tell stories using this 3D virtual setting.”
This project is a major gain for historical preservation, but it’s also huge for the queer community. Since sites where marginalized people gather are often overlooked, it presents a unique opportunity to preserve a piece of history.
“I think a lot of the sites where LGBTQ history has taken place don’t get the same recognition as other historic sites, so for us to do this project was to elevate LGBTQ heritage up to the same level so that we can share heritage across the world,” he said. “Our attention to preserving locations in 3D creates a record for posterity that we can look back on as time goes by even if the site changes across the years. Now we will have a record, a snapshot in time of what it looks like in 2019. We didn’t have that technology before, and if we did, we might have had a clearer view of what the site looks like and have more of a desire to save it.”
Images provided by CyArk