390 Not Out
Today is October 26, 2017, unless you live somewhere where it is not, in which case, check your watch batteries. If you do live where it is October 26, 2017, such as Saviso, you may think it is any other ordinary day, and to an extent it is. So ordinary, in fact, that readers of The St Austell Telegraph might not have noticed an article inside the front section entitled "390 Not Out". What's so important about this news article? It just so happens that today is Saviso's birthday - its 390th, in fact, and as the courier of all news in St Austell, the Telegraph didn't want it to pass unnoticed.
It was on that muggy October 26, 1627 that the first Ingerish settlers arrived on the southern bank of the Saviso River; legend says the city was founded at what is now the intersection of Anne Street and Southbank. The city wasn't much to start with, but it had a plentiful supply of water from the nearby Spencer Springs and was nicely situated to take advantage of the good farmland further down around Lake Wririas. When Enfield burned down in 1638, focus shifted to Saviso, which when paired with the fledgling port at Padina, really began to take off. And then the sugar money came in, St Austell declared independence, joined Vodeo, and so on and so forth. Long story short, Saviso's seen a lot in its 390 years, but on the map right now it's seeing its biggest change in the eight months or so it's been on the site.
I first got into making maps sometime between late 2004 and mid-2005, when the idea came into my head to make city plans for SimCity 4, and soon these evolved into country maps. While the countries always changed, one thing remained constant - Saviso. It was always there and it was always the capital. In 2007 I finally sat down and mapped what the city centre looked like, and it was a fairly basic tangle of streets on the south bank of the Saviso River. Over the years the maps evolved, and by 2010 Saviso was now a nice collection of suburbs built around a central grid - this made sense given that in my mind the city had been established in 1827. When I brought Saviso to OpenGeofiction early this year, the grid came with it. I've devoted a couple of entries toward my unease around large grid cities before so I won't cover old ground, suffice it to say that the grid was playing on my mind. It had to go, but how?
In my last entry I discussed how I was breaking up the old grids and rebuilding the suburbs around Saviso's core. The day after that article, I decided that it was high time to finally repair the very heart of the problem - the oversized, under-detailed, and thoroughly annoying grid. Out it came, and in its place was a blank space. Now the fun began.
Using Caleigh and Rambaud as a base, and with a lot of checking London on Google Maps and OSM, I've been remaking Saviso's CBD into something more radical than any of the city's past incarnations. Saviso's historic grid reappeared but in a much looser fashion, meant to invoke a city born in the 1620s and 1630s, not the 1820s and 1830s. Many of the street names have been re-used (some of which go back to the first 2007 map), but in different places to where they were before. Wellesley and Elizabeth Streets are still the most major streets, but now Wellesley Street is shorter and bends with the countours of the land, while Elizabeth Street marks the southern extent of the town as it was around 1650. Instead of all the streets aligning with each other, some branch off in different directions - Stock and Exchange Streets give some idea of the city's unplanned origins, rather than as two nondescript streets in a worn-out old grid.
The suburbs around it are a little different, too. Southbank is in the same place, but its layout and style will be very different to that of a few weeks ago. It'll still be the same party hub as it was, but it won't be condensed into a tiny triangle anymore. In fact, I had the idea of moving Southbank to opposite Aslington, but I realised that it would make things a little more interesting to put a hill in and build around that - hence the new, never-before-seen suburb of Punt Hill, named for a hotel I once stayed at in Melbourne. This was one of the first places Saviso expanded to south of the river, in the early days was where the nobility lived. Some say that Hepburn Street is still the boundary between the soulless city centre types and the stuck-up snobs on Punt Hill, but that depends on where your allegiances lie.
Perhaps the thing I'm most pleased with, though, is how the buildings have turned out. Saviso's CBD always looked odd to me when compared with places like Kingsbury, Dunwic, or Troie, given that there were only a couple of randomly-placed buildings. I had wanted to fill in the grid for a while but the scale of it seemed daunting, and recently I'd been wondering how to redo the city centre, so what was the point in mapping buildings I'd be deleting not far off in the future? The grid didn't really seem to be a great canvas for laying out buildings, but with the new look, it didn't take long before life emerged in the city. Here's a quick run-through of some of the more notable places to visit:
- The Dominion Museum, Adelaide Quay: Vodeo's largest and most prestigious museum, the Dominion Museum tells the story of Vodeo, as well as the usual things like science and social history. Splitting your visit here into two trips is recommended.
- Bradford's, Marlborough Street: Saviso's oldest and most prestigious department store, and a constant thorn in the side of the Klappersacks company. Owned by the family of former Premier Guy Bradford, and was indeed owned by him personally for a number of years in the 1920s to 1940s.
- Dominion Tower, Elizabeth Street: Not related to the museum, but Vodeo's tallest free-standing tower. Great for seeing for miles around on the observation deck, not so useful when the storms roll in.
- St Austell Concert Hall, Charlotte Street: People like to come here and listen to other people sing very, very loud. It earns the city a few quid though so there's not many complaints.
- Stock Square, Wellesley Street: Originally a pasture for the cows to graze, Stock Square eventually became the common meeting ground for the town of Saviso, and was the site of the proclamation of St Austellian independence. Today it's a nice place to feed the birds.
- Old Central Post Office, Wellesley Street: Originally the hub of Saviso's postal system, today the Old CPO is a shopping arcade and Citihotel branch. Says a lot, I suppose.
- Saviso Art Gallery, Southbank: People come here to look at art; at least, that's what they call it.
- St Austell Museum, Southbank: Situated across a square from the library, the St Austell Museum focuses more on Saviso and the province of St Austell. Also has quite a neat gift shop.
- Saviso Exhibition Centre, Catherine Avenue: A massive venue stretching from Saviso Adelaide station almost to Punt Hill itself, this is a great place for the multitudes to congregate. Gad, I love those words.
- The St Austell Telegraph Building, Gibbons Street: The St Austell Telegraph has had its operations based in Gibbons Street since it started in 1859, and is of such prominence in the Vodean press industry that Gibbons Street itself is a metonym for the country's print media, despite the fact that The Telegraph is the only newspaper that was ever printed in Gibbons Street.
- Saint Openge's Cathedral and the Saviso City Synagogue, Kerr & Stock Streets: Religion has always had a role to play in Vodeo, and when Saviso was granted its city rights in 1699, it was because of St Openge's Cathedral. The original 1698 cathedral burned down in 1816, with the present cathedral going up on the same site a few years later. Across the road is the City Synagogue, where the city's Jews have come to do their thing for over 200 years in one building or another. St Austellians were historically more tolerant of their Jewish brethren than many other places, hence why Saviso has a fairly large Jewish community.
- Saviso Stock Exchange, Exchange Street: If St Openge's, St Patrick's (Catholic, Punt Hill), and the City Synagogue are the hubs of the city's three largest religious denominations, then the Saviso Stock Exchange (SSX, sometimes cheekily referred to as SEX) is the temple of that great symbol of Vodean capitalism, the pound. The original stock exchange was located nearby on Melbourne Street, but when the chance came up to have an exchange on Exchange Street (its original 1627 name), it was taken. Anarchists attempted to blow the building up on June 3, 1903, but they didn't count on the building's sturdy construction or the fact that the bomb was much weaker than they'd intended. The Exchange's tradition dictates that trading opens and closes one minute late on June 3 (or its closest trading day) to commemorate the event, with the day starting and ending with the sounding of a gong. Don't judge.
And that's just for starters. Keep an eye out for the 2018 Saviso Guidebook, available from all good drug stores and dealers.
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