The Alamo Digital Battlefield: Then and Now

The Alamo’s 1836 Battlefield has been lost in the nearly two centuries since that dramatic battle. The Mexican army tore down the compound’s outer walls in May of 1836. This left just two structures, the Alamo Church and Long Barrack. San Antonio grew up with the Alamo at its heart, with streets and buildings now occupying the site of the most sacred battle in Texas history. The walls enclosing the gardens behind the Alamo today, as well as the gift shop and other structures around the complex, were added a century or more after the battle.

The following digital battlefield visualizations show the Alamo Battlefield as it appeared in 1836, juxtaposed with how the same space appears today. These visualizations can be viewed on your smart phone, tablet or computer.

Digital Battlefield 1

This visualization begins with photography captured in November 2017. As you click and drag the screen right and left, you can take in the entire Alamo Battlefield. The slider at the bottom will take you back in time to reveal how the Alamo and its compound appeared just before the battle in 1836. The slider can be used to mix or ghost both Alamo time slices together, letting you see where 1836 structures were in relation to today’s plaza. You can turn on and off historical markers, which note the locations of a few key places, such as Travis’ headquarters and the south gate, then and now.

Digital Battlefield 2

This version of the visualization allows you to see the 1836 Alamo rendering side-by-side with today’s Alamo. Like the digital battlefield above, this visualization allows you to click and drag to take in the whole scene.

Battlefield Diagram

This schematic diagram shows the Alamo Plaza area in downtown San Antonio today; 1836 Battlefield walls and footprint included. Trees and vegetation have been omitted to show the structures more clearly. Alamo Street (in pink) runs diagonally across the graphic, north and south across the Battlefield. Houston Street also crosses the Battlefield on its north end. The Hippolito Garcia Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse, built in 1937, is the wedge-shaped structure in the top left. It occupies space where the Alamo’s north wall once stood. The Crockett Block buildings, owned by the state since December 2015, are the rectangular structure at center left. They occupy part of the former western wall. These buildings are the site of the future Alamo museum and visitors center.

Battlefield Diagram

Digital Battlefield Credits

Credits: 3D modeling, texturing and rendering by James Boddie. Historical authentication by Dr. Bruce Winders (Alamo) and Mark Lambert (GLO). Photography by Keith Heard (GLO). Panoramic image composition and matching and software development by Bob Michaels (GLO). Concept and direction by Bryan Preston (GLO). Digital 3D model based on the Alamo diorama and book, The Illustrated Alamo 1836: A Photographic Journey, by Mark Lemon (State House Press, 2008). Schematic drawing by Lance McIlhany (GLO).