This Old Holme
- "Holme is to-day a grander and finer city than she ever was. Her streets are lined with most handsome buildings, her quays lined with all manner of vessels carrying anything a man could want, and her citizens walk about in an array of fashionable clothes and styles that would rival the most stately Ulethan cities. She is indeed one of the most graceful and stately cities in the whole of Tarephia, and unquestionably the result of good governance and free enterprise. "
—James Woodes, an Ingerish writer, 1793
- "Never have I sighted such an unpleasant and foul city than Holme. The town (for though it calls itself a city, it is clearly unfit to hold such a title) is filled with drinking houses that are full at all hours of the day and night, its streets turn into thick, foul-smelling mud after the slightest rainfall, and its climate is most dreadfully dense and uncomfortable. The citizenry believe it to be the equal of the great cities of Uletha, but any person who visits only briefly can see quite plainly that it is but a poor imitation."
—Pierre Labrecque, a Broceliandean merchant, 1780
Today's wanderings bring us back to Holme, a city beloved by tourists for its beauty, and by its residents for the fact it's not Saviso. Holme is very much an aspirational city; even in its early days, it was not content to be a muddy little colonial trading post; no, it's always believed itself destined for much more. A city of beauty and grandeur, a great bridge between the hemispheres, a city held in the esteem of Winburgh, St. Richardus, Latina, and Valoris. Any Savisans in the audience will be jeering loudly at this stage, but that's just the rivalry between the two. Holme was once Vodeo's predominant city, and while it has since relinquished that title to Saviso, it has retained its air of pomp and prestige. Let's go down to the city centre and I'll show you what I mean.
Holme is a city that has held onto as much of its history as it has been able to. While modern office towers and apartment buildings might line Staith and Coronation Quays, in places like Manning Square, it's still possible to drink in pubs that have been around for well over 200 years. Old churches, like St Albert's and St David's, might look small in comparison to the huge edifices all around them, but they've been around since the colonial days in one form or another. Even the city's sometimes chaotic mix of streets at all angles and small alleyways darting off in all directions harkens back to olden times. While careful to not be left in the past, Holme has cultivated a quaint, old-timey feel.
When looking at a map of Holme, it's quite likely that the first thing your eye is drawn to is King Joshua Square. The square is very much the heart of Holme, a little plot of nature in amongst the hustle and bustle of the city, and very popular for its shady trees that give a respite from the tropical heat (as we are only 23 minutes of latitude north of the equator). What's not so obvious to begin with is that the park is the most visible and prominent reminder of a disaster many years ago that changed the city forever. On the night of February 3, 1781, a fire broke out in a warehouse on Staith Quay. This was nothing new in itself, but the speed which it spread certainly was. Within only a couple of days, flames had incinerated much of the city centre, and had even jumped the river to scorch a good bit of Remington, as well. While plenty of buildings in the city centre had been built of brick and stone, the majority of the city's buildings were still made of wood; even some of the streets had been covered in wooden planks to deal with the mud. When the flames finally died out, 54 people were dead and the city centre was in ruins. While devastating, the fire presented the city authorities with the opportunity to start over. The land between bounded by Staith Quay, and Sadleir, Beaufort, and Plymouth Streets was cleared and turned into a public square, streets were widened to try and build firebreaks, and a grand boulevard was constructed half-ringing the city. The fire is today commemorated by a small memorial at the river end of Farriner Walk, and while it took place nearly 240 years ago, it remains one of the most important events in the city's history.
Across the bridges, we come to Remington Island. When the settlers arrived, this was a muddy, swampy island in the middle of the Garden River that was neither use nor ornament. While a small village was able to be constructed around what is today Remington Square, the northern half of the island was written off, save for the northernmost tip where Lenthall Water rejoins the Garden, which was given to the monarchy for a manor house that is today the home of the Crown Princess. Eventually, the desire for building close to the city centre overpowered nature, and the urban area marched up the island with almost indecent haste. Today, Remington is home to the Cambrian Museum, as well as a variety of restaurants, bars, and clubs, and while some call it the city's equivalent to Saviso's Southbank, that would be a stretch. Walking through the city, it's hard not to find a place to eat, drink, or dance to obnoxiously bass-heavy music, especially along the riverfront and in the cosy streets and alleyways north of Sadleir Street.
In the past couple of weeks, Holme has easily leapfrogged Aslington as the most densely-mapped part of Vodeo. I'd been looking at Holme for a while, wondering what I could do to improve it and highlight its heritage, but it was only recently that I decided to go in and delete a few problem buildings and streets and replace them with some nicer, newer ones that fit the scale better. The thing is, once I'd mapped around Maitland and Faraday Streets, I had to do the same along Sadleir and Plymouth to balance it out, then a few more along Staith Quay, and a few over in Remington because I'd had an idea... before long, it had mushroomed out far beyond what I'd had planned; this is also the first time I've focused on putting in buildings before streets, since it leads to more interesting-looking maps. The real challenge has been thinking of what to put in all those buildings, and then finding names for them. Still, that's part of the fun, isn't it? For some time, though, I had wondered what the reasoning would be for such an enormous park in the centre of town and the broad avenue partially encircling the city (which I'm considering renaming at least part of); and that's where the fire came in – it was a perfect opportunity for the city to start again and transition from a colonial port to a stately city.
Now, if you'll excuse me, there's rum and bananas to be had.
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It's going to be one hell of a decade.