Emerald City Knights
Emerald City Locales
Emerald City is centered on the sheltered inner peninsula jutting into the Albian River, with access to Malory Bay and the islands beyond. The city is built upon three main hills, modest in size compared to the mountainous terrain in the surrounding area, but still fairly steep. The city has since spread across the inlet to the western or outer peninsula and along the south of the riverbank eastward as well as pushing south towards the mountains.
The downtown area of the city is towards the waterfront, the early center of Emerald City’s livelihood and activity. Royal Hill, the northernmost of the city’s three main hills, lives up to its name with some of the most expensive real estate in E.C.. To the south rise University Hill, home of Emerald City University (ECU), and Sunset Hill, bordering the Red River. As the hills level out into a broad valley, the neighborhoods give way to the Eastern District and Lakeside, curving around Lake Vallee.
Emerald City’s downtown area runs from the riverfront and slopes up and around Royal Hill. A main highway runs along the waterfront, connecting up with the two main bridges, crossing the Albian and Red Rivers to the north and west, running along the Albian River towards the east.
Emerald City’s Riverfront is still quite active as a port; much of the shipping has shifted eastward along the river and westward towards the outer peninsula, leaving much of the downtown waterfront area to piers dedicated to shopping, pleasure craft, and tourism. Smugglers ply their trade in some parts of the Riverfront, and heroes can find informants and suspects in some of the dockside dives.
An old fish cannery along the Riverfront has been converted into a multi-level shopping mall and local tourist attraction, the perfect place for a date or family outing, as well as an unexpected super-battle! The Cannery is surrounded by pedestrian shopping and high-class urban housing.
Yellow Brick Row
Emerald City’s most famous shopping area; it is paved in yellow-painted brick, forming a large pedestrian mall along the north-facing slope of Royal Hill. Yellow Brick Row is the place where the city embraces its Oz connections most deeply, with every third shop in the area making subtle (or not-so-subtle) nods to Baum’s classic.
The summit of Royal Hill is known as the Crown Heights neighborhood, expensive real estate commanding a good view of Emerald City (although not quite so good as it was before the soaring towers of the downtown area were built). The Crown Tower hotel, a local landmark, is found in Crown Heights, along with some high-class condos.
Emerald City suffered early flooding problems, which led to the city administration literally covering over and building on top of the old central part of the city in the lowlands. This created an “Undercity” where buildings and even streets from the 1800s are preserved beneath the current downtown area. The Undercity is connected to various tunnels and underground structures, but the rumors of habitation by “morlocks” or other mythical monsters are purely urban legend.
The Eastern District
Although southwest of downtown, the city’s Eastern District is so named because of its largely Asian population. It is located in the broad valley between and below Sunset and University Hills. The Eastern District used to have a reputation as the “shady side” of Emerald City, tucked away and hidden by the hills from Downtown, and a difficult walk from there, but in the present day, the District is a bustling tourist area with a thriving local culture.
Jadetown and Little Osaka
The neighborhood known as Jadetown is primarily Chinese, and you can see a good deal of Chinese writing, art, and architecture there. Local schools teach students Chinese languages, culture, and history in addition to the lessons they learn in public school. Jadetown residents are quite proud of their heritage. Jadetown is home to the Jade Arch, its official “entrance” and a major tourist attraction.
Little Osaka is the Japanese area of the Eastern District. It has a more subdued style and character, featuring a renowned Japanese Tea Garden and some hotels that make it a popular place for Japanese visitors to Emerald City to stay, as well as tourists to visit.
The southern shore of the Albian River, running westward from Downtown, goes from the urban structures and zoning of the center of the city to more suburban and residential areas. Southern Shore properties are prime real estate, centered around riverfront marinas, coves, and similar properties. The presence of the highway and rail line along the Southern Shore causes building to cluster around the transportation arteries, thinning southward towards the forest and mountains.
The islands of the Albian River are broadly considered part of the Southern Shore, although technically they’re a district unto themselves. Some of the islands are set aside as parks and nature preserves, while others are inhabited, connected by narrow bridges and ferry service. A home on the Islands is a sure sign of success in the area, as they feature some of the most expensive real estate in Emerald City.
The south- and westernmost of the three hills occupied by Emerald City, Sunset Hill is named for the vista of the sun setting over it, seen from the other (eastern) parts of the city. It was once the site of stately turn-of-the-century homes a reasonable distance from both Crown and University Hills, affording residents a degree of privacy. More and more, as the city has expanded, Sunset Hill has become urbanized, and many of those stately homes are now businesses, apartments, or condos, although some have been restored to their original condition and remain private homes.
A broad western portion of Sunset Hill forms a pleasant park overlooking the Red River. The Overlook Park neighborhood extends into the area around the park, which includes a variety of homes and small businesses serving the largely residential community.
The southeastern hill of Emerald City is named for the placement of Emerald City University near its summit. It and the surrounding area are part of the city’s youth culture and more artistic neighborhoods. “U-Hill,” as it is sometimes known, is home to various cafés, trendy boutiques, thrift shops (equally trendy among the right crowd), theaters, and businesses serving the student community as well as local residents.
The area bordering the lake to the south of the Eastern District, Lakeside is a relatively new district of the city and its character reflects a blending of Emerald City’s 19th and 20th century heritages with an eye towards life in the 21st century.