The Virtual New Amsterdam Model was created by the Environmental Simulation Center (ESC) for the New Amsterdam History Center (NAHC) with funding from the New York Empire State Development Corporation and the Collegiate Church Corporation. The prototype was conceived as a "proof of concept," demonstrating the capacity to deploy an online virtual 3D environment that can be used to explore the "sense of place" of New Amsterdam in the 17th Century, intended to be used as an educational tool for students and teachers of New Amsterdam history.
The model focuses on Stone Street and includes 28 unique buildings modeled by noted historical painter Len Tantillo, as well as a garden and an interior modeled by ESC, featuring typical 17th Century Dutch objects that might have belonged to a resident of New Amsterdam. The model also has a lively street scene of people engaged in everyday activities drawn from 17th Century Dutch Paintings.
The emphasis of the model is on creating a sense of daily life in the Dutch settlement and connecting the physical environment to historical documents and research.
The application was developed using Google Earth and the Drupal open source content management system. It offers a spatial framework that can house knowledge about the settlement as it is currently understood. Potential connections between the 3D Model of the settlement and present-day Lower Manhattan, as well as database and external websites such Wikipedia, situate it within the context of current historical, curricular, ancestral, archeological, geological and other forms of research.