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

A screenshot of the 3D model
A screenshot of the 3D model Feedloader (Limelight Networks)

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 60 years ago. An interactive made by Danish graphic designer Leif Sørensen offers a 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.

Annotated map of Dealey Plaza
Annotated map of Dealey Plaza Public domain via Wikimedia Commons

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.”

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