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About this City Journal

Alas, with real life, I have to put my already infrequent updates on hold for some time. I promise to come back to this CJ in the future though! Grant County is located somewhere in the...

Entries in this City Journal

ixnayonthetimmay

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Grant County had been blessed eons ago by walls of ice packed miles high. The movement and erosion of the ice pack during the Ice Age left pock marks throughout the landscape. As a result, lakes, streams, rivers and ponds dot and dash the area. This makes Grant County a great place for recreation and allowed it to become the rickety rowboat and tranquil photography capital of the world!


Below is a map of Grant County taking into consideration only the natural features of the landscape.

Natural Features Map thumbnail

There's exists a larger, actually readable version of that map. Just click here!


Fresh water resources had never really been a big issue for citizens of SimNation. It seems a local government could just plop a water pump and "wet" their collective appetites. And the many lakes in Grant County made this easy water just that much more accessible. So pooh-pooh on all those people who made a conscious decision to live in a desert!

decaturTwpTop.jpgdecaturTwpBot.jpg


Suburban towns would spring up in areas by the lakes, providing residents a bit of nature and beauty. Shown below is the Town of Shorewood, the first of such suburbs located north of Centropolis in aptly-named Lake Township

shorewood1.jpg

And below is Bloomville, showing how smaller lakes and ponds would disappear into residential neighborhoods.

bloomville1.jpg


Not all of the lakes in Grant County are natural. Rivers and streams would be diverted or impounded to suit the needs of localities nearby. Here, the high-walled Foster Creek was dammed up to build the first hydroelectric plant in Grant County. The resulting reservior, Foster Lake, became an attraction of its own and a town sprang up on its shores.

fosterLakeTop.jpgfosterLakeBot.jpg

Other towns would also take advantage of the recreation opportunities provided by the lakes. Centennial Park sprang up as a resort town for vacationers and the lake was the main impetus for this development. Shown below are the amenities built for those seeking nature and green, open space.

centennialParkPan1.jpgcentennialParkPan2.jpgcentennialParkPan3.jpgcentennialParkPan4.jpg

'Tis all for now! Thanks as always for looking.

ixnayonthetimmay

Greetings all! I am still here and, despite Real Life getting in the way, still attempting to give this journal some update love whenever possible. I present to you here another City Highlight!


City Highlight banner

In the last post, we looked at how the core city of Grant County, Centropolis, had matured to a burgeoning metropolitan core, ready to spread out over the landscape like a B-movie blob. Here we now look at Oakridge Park, a town whose proximity to Downtown Centropolis proved to be a test case for this urban sprawl that proceeded to occur in Grant County at the dawn of a new century. This brief post looks at the small town right before that growth occurred in earnest, highlighting the contrast between rural and suburban interests that would be a fixture for decades to come.

Wiki-style Map

The above map shows how Oakridge Park, positioned closest to Centropolis, was poised to be the first town to come under the influence of the emerging urban core. But at Stage 4 it remained still a fairly small farm town.

Farms and Homes

Along the steep banks of the Blue River northeast of Downtown, new housing developments crept up alongside the existing farmland.

Wooded roundabout

The residents though did manage to keep some of the untouched, wild essence of their environment. Here is a roundabout abutting a wooded area next to a charming park. Much of the wooded banks of the Blue River in Oakridge Park would be kept undeveloped, eventually becoming the town's namesake. (In 1931 in a 6-to-1 vote, residents approved changing the name to Oakridge Park from Stinkburg).

Light-Density Development

Even with increasing growth, density remained very light in many areas. Increasing property values and taxes hadn't yet crushed the hopes of residents seeking wide open spaces. Not yet, anyways...

Vertical Panorama Top

Vertical Panorama Bottom

New growth during this time would trend towards the central business district, as shown here. The original part of town, with its grid layout, is shown toward the northeast (the top of the above photo). And newer development occuring southwest of the old town, pointing toward Centropolis (the bottom of the photo). This is a pattern repeated in the other satellite towns in Grant County as they too would follow a pattern of suburbanization.


Until next time!

ixnayonthetimmay

Title Banner

The height of the Gilded Age and turn-of-the-century optimism had not yet been interrupted by the darkness of the Great War. And at this time the reforms of the City Beautiful movement were sweeping the nation, including Centropolis. This update will, instead of looking at the region as a whole, will focus instead on the City of Centropolis, finally taking a closer look the Center City of Grant County.


Farms

farms

By 1910, the landscape of Grant County was still dominated by agriculture. But the urban seeds planted earlier had sprouted and were now growing strongly.

Locator Map

The crux of this growth was located in Centropolis, the county seat, and proved to be into the future.


Cerulean Park

This shot above shows Cerulean Park at the time it was built; Cerulean Park is located at the geographic center of Center Township and serves as the origin of the Centropolis and Grant County address grid.

Fair Park

Centropolis was chosen as the site for the State Fair in 1911. Shown above are the fairgrounds and charming neighborhoods surrounding the fairgrounds.


River Detail

Centropolis was built on the banks of the Blue River which runs the length of Grant County from east to west. Shown above in detail and below in vertical panorama is the new Blue River Development Project. Land was reclaimed along the banks by constructing walls and pedestrian walkways. The walls also allowed for a measure of river tide and flood control.

Vertical Panorama top

Vertical Panorama middle

Vertical Panorama bottom

Below: Blue-collar rowhouses and tenements in Centropolis.

Rowhouses


The grandest crowning achievement for Centropolis in this time was the opening of their new city hall building. After deciding to consolidate the scattered city offices into one building, Centropolis built a Beaux-Arts masterpiece inspired by the new city hall in San Francisco. On the west face of the city hall building, a charming plaza was built using all the best materials other peoples' money could buy. Grant County then moved the county offices into more modest offices nearby, consolidating local governance in one area. Governance! Governance!...

city hall

With new hope in this Age, Centropolis also entered a new era of power and lighting. The first electric plant in this side of the State was opened up in Centropolis at this time. Shown below is the contrast between day and night.

Centropolis Day

Centropolis Night


Lastly, here is an animation showing the growth of Centropolis from Stage 1 to Stage 4, showing growth from a small town along a river ford to the booming urban center it was at the turn of the 20th century. Thanks as always for visiting!

Growth

ixnayonthetimmay

My apologies in advance for what is really a slim and uninspired update. I blame the hustle, bustle and laziness that is entailed in the holiday season. So, um, yeah!

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Nestled in the north of Grant County, hidden off the beaten path lies a tiny, spit-in-the-bucket settlement called Northfield. Barely meeting the legal requirements for an incorporated town, Northfield is what we smug city-dwellers might refer to as a "one horse town." But since their horse had to historically be shared between the Marshal and the shopkeep, they proudly refer to themselves even today as a "half-horse town." This is mathemetically inconsistent, but don't tell that to the proud folk of Northfield, where the lack of a schoolhouse is made up for by their abundance of gumption.

Just what exactly is gumption, anyways?


map

Above: Locator map of Northfield in Grant County. And it doesn't change much from this for a long time...


Houses

Hard work and a simple way mark life in Northfield. Don't go there for flashiness, fun or that newfangled "electricity." Go there for toil and then the grave. But they don't even have a graveyard.

Photo

Shown Above: A recent addition to the rural properties in Northfield: Fences!


Homes and farm

And just look how congested the streets aren't!

town1.jpg

It's not all back-breaking labor in Northfield. On Friday evenings, one can come down to the Post Office/Sheriff's Office/Barber Shop for lively banter and gossip! Find out which possibly famous person nearly stopped here, learn about how Farmer Gray wasted his subsidy check and discover what mischief the Rogers twins have gotten into! And find out if maybe (just maybe) the Northfield-St. John co-op six-man football team might make State this year!!


Aerial View

Dirigible-Aero-photo of Northfield. If you look close enough, you might even see the mayor waving!

ixnayonthetimmay

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After the big growth of big industry in Grant County (see Stage 3 Update for background), a bustling town did emerge in the southeast, rising fast at once to rival the county seat of Centropolis in population and influence.

Overly dependent on the amusingly-named automobile industry, the flaring growth of the City of Taylerville would soon be dimmed. However the spark that caused this town to burst in growth almost overnight would make a great story to tell, if only I were a better storyteller. But since I am not, I hope that a few pictures will suffice. So here now is the City of Taylerville, during the Third Stage of development of Grant County.

wiki-style map of Taylerville

If I may be so bold as to thoroughly demolish the fourth wall here, I based the layout and design of Taylerville off of the real-life, actually existing city of Mesa, Arizona, where I currently live. The broad avenues, concentration of public buildings and Plat-of-Zion-esque grid for the core of Mesa provided a basis for the Sim-life City of Taylerville. For a sprawled-out, overgrown suburb of a sprawled-out, land-wasting metro area such as Phoenix, old town Mesa does have a bit of a tightly-knit, small town charm to it, payday loan places and llanteras aside...


Excerpt taken from a  Taylerville promotional pamphlet:

Taylerville Welcomes You

"Welcome to Taylerville! Home of the Slap-Happy Motor Car Company! Taylerville is a town on the growth and rise, home to friendly people, a friendly business and industrial climate, and friendly bands of rabid carnivores. "

Taylerville Train Station

"Hop on the Union Specific's Up by Northeast Line and take the Taylerville spur and you're headed in the right direction. Convenient rail access will ensure that whatever errands you need to run, you will be able to make you early morning trip and return in time for your luncheon and a game of croquet with the wee'uns."

Homes in Taylerville

"Affordable housing is abundant. And Taylerville is a forward-looking town, devising the first purpose-planned network to accomodate the motor-car or 'horseless carriage' on the streets and throughways. Long waits, crowded roads and bad smells will no longer be an issue in the world of automobiles, I do declare!"

Downtown Taylerville

"Everyone and his Aunt Gertrude is seeking job opportunities at the first auto-motor car plant in the state, located right here in our town. And one's sense of civic pride is not lost as the centerpiece of town is the charming, colonial-revival City Hall, located a short walking distance from the library, police depot and downtown market."

Taylerville Aerial View

"So come to Taylerville and plant your roots!"


The end. As always, thanks for looking!

ixnayonthetimmay

Title Banner

Ah, yes. Who doesn't love the smell of dark pollutants in the morning? That's not burning petroleum and arsenic you smell, that's progress! Stage Two brought the railways to the Centropolis metro area, and on the heels of this foundation came, at the turn of the century, a boost in mining and industry to the agrarian Grant County.


Rural Factory

After the opening of the Union Specific rail line and stations in core cities, the population of Grant County boomed. Demand for such essentials as asbestos curtains, medical bellows and anvils (for packing into parachute packs, of course) created a nearly immediate demand for places to forge, make and store these items. It wasn't long after the railroads opened that robber barons of all colors began to move in to stake their claim on the vast, untapped sweatshop and child-labor potential.

Horizontal View in Bloomville

Many new factories and plants, like those shown above in Bloomville, were located immediately adjacent to existing rail lines to take full advantage of rail freight access. To this day, the large industrial centers exist in the towns with best rail access, and whose NIMBY-prone neighbors haven't petitioned them out of town yet. But what did these people think life was going to be like when they bought a house next to a paper mill and rendering plant?


Slap-Happy Auto Mobile Plants

The automobile assembly-line method refined by Henry Ford was readily duplicated by other companies, including the Slap-Happy Motor Car Company in Taylerville, shown above. All production was located on-site, from ore smelting for metal blocks and parts to assembly and test-driving to test-crashing. The company became world-famous (or at least this-side-of-the-state famous) for producing the 1914 Wally's Wobbling Wagon (shown below), a car renowned for wobbling side-to-side uncontrollably when idling, but offering a smooth ride at a 28 mile-per-hour top speed.

Wally's Wobbling Wagon (Not really)

Slap-Happy's meteoric rise brought prosperity to Taylerville, located in southeast Grant County, whose population at one time almost exceeded that of Centropolis. However Slap-Happy was brought down almost as quickly as it came up. The owner, Hap Slapman, insisted all lights installed be calcium oxide (causing cars to burst into flames) and that every horn installed play *"It's A Long Way to Tipperary", even long after the Great War was over. After a nasty takeover which resulted in Hap being hauled off to the looney bin, the company was divested and eventually closed down.


When marginally-useful minerals began to be found on the outskirts and various locations of Grant County, mines began appearing. Shown below is the Highland Quarry. Stones quarried here were used to build ostentatiously large government buildings, used by the heads of the political machines and paid for by the taxpayers. Ah yes, the system works...

The Quarry

The Blue River Coal Mines, located along the banks of the Blue River in what is now Downtown Centropolis are featured below. Coal mined here was used for what you'd expect it to be used for; warming homes during the frigid winters and fueling the first power plants that came to the area. Easy access to cheap fuel would lead to later industrial growth near these mines.

Blue River Coal Mines

Here is an aerial photo of the Sanders Mine in Saint John, taken during a hazy morning.

Sanders Mine


Shown below is the vertical panorama of the Industrial District in Centropolis. Short rail spurs were built perpendicular to the main line, and access to cheap coal (mentioned above) and the largest population base in the region ensured this area's development. This, in turn, cemented Centropolis' place at the Grant County, marking the start of the change in Centropolis from a sleepy, small town to the bustling urban core of Grant County.

Centropolis Vertical Panorama, Top

Centropolis Vertical Panorama, Bottom

And shown here lastly is a map of the Grant County region as of Stage 3. The population at Stage 3 was around fifty thousand. Grant County had ten incorporated cities and towns, the newest being Robindale in Union Township and Shorewood in Lake Township. North is up, but south is not necessarily down. And all units are measured in Metricized Furlongs.

Grant County Stage 3 Map

That's all for this update. As always, thanks for looking!

ixnayonthetimmay

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Located somewhere west of downtown is a sleepy little burg. Sprouting up along the banks of the Blue River lies Maplewood, a blue-collar town that would become one of the largest suburban cities of Centropolis. This highlight looks at Maplewood as of Development Stage 2 of the regular city journal updates.

locator map of Maplewood in Grant County

Above is a Wikipedia-style locator map showing Maplewood's location in Grant County at Stage 2. And following are some quick facts about the town.

    -Located in it's namesake township (Maplewood Township), Maplewood is centered four miles west of Downtown Centropolis.

    -Maplewood was founded by a group of Irish immigrants who moved to the area after being displaced by a molasses tank explosion. Now that's what I call a sticky situation!

    -It is possible to reach Maplewood from Centropolis and St. John by floating drunkenly down the Blue River in an inflated inner-tube.

    -Maplewood is run under a strong-mayor system, meaning the mayor is given vast powers to destroy things, plant trees and spend city funds on very elaborate landmarks of questionable benefit at his or her whim. Actually, this is the case in all of Grant County, so it isn't really that notable here.


And here are some historic photos!

Houses in Maplewood

Easy rail access linked the town's factories to the greater rail network and allowed for commuting between Maplewood and the offices in Centropolis, fostering early growth as a major suburb in Grant County.

More houses in Maplewood

[image resized. The max size is 800x600 or 600x800 pixels. Thanks - Chptrk]

Affordable housing for lower- to middle-class workers was an early draw for growth in Maplewood.

Baseball Field in Maplewood

Kids of all ages would meet at the ballfield to toss around the old apple. This ballfield also hosted an adult squad, the first Class F-and-a-half Very-Minor-League-affiliated team in Grant County, named the Maplewood Cow-Tippers.

Downtown Maplewood

The old downtown section of Maplewood, showing a bit of the small-town charm.


A vertical panorama of Maplewood, along Cerulean Avenue and the Union Specific rail line:

Maplewood panorama, topMaplewood panorama, bottom

...And finally, a high-up aerial shot of the whole town:

Full shot of Maplewood


Maplewood also had a municipally-enacted early bed-time, so this is all for now! Take care until next time!

ixnayonthetimmay

Grant County CJ Third Update Banner

 

"If you build it, they will come," or so goes the saying. That's not really always true though. In fact, building a prison or foul-smelling landfill is a pretty good way to make them not come. But a lot of times, building it and building it well will make people want to be near whatever it is. Like, say for instance, a railroad line!

Map of Rail Lines in Grant County

Grant County had, during the formative years, had the honor of hosting, apart from a few short spur lines, two moderately-traveled main lines built by the Union Specific Rail Road, the Up-by-Northeast and In-the-Approximate-Direction-of-Omaha Lines. These two lines intersect in Centropolis and were the source of much of the growth and jobs of the town. Near to the town and now today since replaced by downtown development was the rail yard.

Rail Yard image, top

Rail Yard image, bottom

Such meaningful tasks performed at the rail yard there were axle-re-lubing, just-in-case track re-gauging, and cow catcher de-cow-ing. Train cars were also washed, cleaned and prettied up there; locomotives would be loaded up onto the roundhouse turntable and spun to be dried off, much to the sickness and nausea of the engineers. But they were men of great fortitute and didn't throw up all that often during this drying procedure.

Image of Roundhouse

Thomas iconMore than one anthropomorphic locomotive was known to be seen at the rail yard and roundhouse, cavorting and talking about their days and, at the same time, providing simple life lessons from their experiences to whoever paid attention long enough. It is not known whatever became of these friendly, talking, magical pieces of industrial hardware...

Image of Bloomville Depot

Rail depots invariably sprouted small towns around them, acting as feeders for the sorrounding farms to export their goods to parts unknown. Shown above is the passenger depot in Bloomville, just north of Centropolis. These other small villages and towns in Grant County were easily linked by the presence of the rail lines, forming some early commuter networks. Much of the early growth in Grant County was centered along the axes of the rail lines. Growth and prosperity soon followed as people came out west in search of food or, perhaps, employment.

Dayton, top

Dayton, bottom

Pictured above is the Town of Dayton. Eschewing cardinal and intermediate directions, their jagged and confusing road network has become a point of civic pride.

Town of Saint John image

The Town of Saint John, due east of Centropolis, had built their entire downtown core around their commuter rail station, showing how the railways have become integrated as a fact of life in the communities in Grant County.

The other towns not close to the rail lines were neglected and forgotten, however, left to rot into obscurity or coast along of their own volition to inevitability, underrepresented and ignored. Hey, if there are winners, there have to be losers too. Right?

 

 

 
ixnayonthetimmay

Grant County CJ Banner

 

It is said that those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it. And it would be quite embarassing for people whoweren't aware of the founding and settling of these lands to try and settle them again. There might be a few scuffles with the people already there, but nothing that a few broken treaties can't solve...

Grant County was founded in Eighteen Aught Neuf by this man:

Founder of Grant County

No one has any idea of his name, but who the hell cares? The lands that make up Grant County and the surrounding areas were acquired after a tax assessor undervalued the lands and they were exchanged by the federal government for seventeen butter churns and a three-legged ox. People were slow to move in, mostly due to the area's reputation for being cursed, but due even more to the area's reputation for reeking of overripe cheese. The valiant efforts of the Army to populate the whole area with wild herds of buffalo and cattle did a lot to help counter the cheese smell. Though the area soon had a bad odor of cow dung, most people agreed that was better since they were used to it already.

Settlement Poster

Above: A Land Sale Advertising Poster for Grant County. Not to be confused

for any other similar poster...

This change in aromatic conditions paved the way for what allowed the greater Grant County area to be established. The Union Specific Rail Road and Locomotive Mechanism Company of St. Cloud acquired the whole of Grant County by claiming improvements under the Homestead Act by setting up wooden outhouses every half-mile.  In a bid to pay off past-due bonds used to buy a whiskey fountain, the Union Specific Rail Road concocted a brilliant scheme to dispose of the excess lands in the area. They told people that the lands in the area were ripe and ready for farming, guaranteed to yield bumper crops of sorghum, hemp and a rare spice called "Cat's Breath."

Grant County Farms

Above: Farm fields in Grant County

The plan worked perfectly, and it wasn't long before farmers, crotchety ex-prospectors and other people sick of city life were moving in by the droves. Lots were divvied up into squares and then further divvied up into smaller rectangles. Rectangles are easier to fence off; it saves the taxpayers' money. In less than two years the land had been settled, the Union Specific Rail Road made their money back and vacancies for corrupt political offices had been filled.

Olde Centropolis

The focal point of this settlement was the intersection of the Union Specific's Up-by-Northeast and In-the-Approximate-Direction-of-Omaha Lines, on the banks of the Blue River. This settlement was first named Blue River City, but later changed to Centropolis owing to it's location at the geographic center of Grant County. How this coincidence occurred is attributed both to Semi-Intelligent Design and to extreme xenophobia of other county's residents. Simple services such as horse manure pickup, blacksmithery and gun "re-ammo-ing" were available in the town.

Farms Top Image

Farms Bottom Image

Other villages along the river and railroad lines were settled, such as East Point shown above. East Point was founded as a waystation for people going to better places. Seeing as how this is supposed to take place in the early- to mid-ninteenth century, it's interesting to note the asphalt-paved roads and fairly modern looking buildings. Even more amazing is that aerial photos of the region exist at all, but it's best not to hurt your brain over it too much.  

Below: Town of Centropolis, Population of about 1500

 

Newer but still old Centropolis

Low-density infill growth continued until most of Grant County had been dedicated to farming. A few unsettled patches of land were left open to cattle, deer and lion grazing, probably for asthetic reasons. After the tumultuous settlement years, the population of Grant County leveled off to about 25,000, dropping off only briefly during the great Stink-Bomb Re-Gifting Affair of Summer 1868. By then, Centropolis had become quite a bustling little burg, replete with paved roads, a passenger rail platform and more services like Town Marshal and Fire Station.

Pictured below is the outskirts of Centropolis during its early days, showing some smaller farm homesteads and the asbestos re-threading plant.

Centropolis outskirts

By the time the first wave of rampant land speculation moved further west, Grant County had made a name for itself. Shown below is an aero-blimp photo of Grant County taken when the population was near 30,000 souls.

Grant County Aerial View

Click Here to view a larger version of the above image

However more growth and challenges were yet to remain for this new region and for the oft-clueless yet well-meaning residents who called it home. But those are all reserved for other two-week-past-due updates. So with that, I shall close this update with an apt phrase: "Life is like a sewer. What you get out of it depends on what you put into it." Good night (or day) and thanks for looking!

ixnayonthetimmay

Grant County Seal

 

Most quadranglists and 18th Century revolutionary philosophers agree: neatly ordered grids are sexy. And so the greatest result of the Northwest Ordinance and the Public Land Survey System is that these grids can now be seen from satellite imagery. Sure some detractors cry that grid-based development is conducive to urban sprawl, leading to longer commutes, obesity and social isolation. And sure, some will say that the unyielding grid all but prevents any modicum of smart urban planning and development. But I can dismiss all that with a wave of my hand. For one has not truly lived unless they have seen the beauty that is the agricultural paradise of the Midwest! And it isn't the Midwest if it weren't laid out like a piece of graph paper!

Welcome to Grant County! Grant County is located in a state in the Midwest, though the exact one cannot be confirmed due to most people having forgot. Some say it's Minnesota, some say Illinois and some say Iowa. Some even say Arizona. Some people are friggin' stupid! Most people tend not to worry themselves too much on it as they go about their days as if their political subdivision were surrounded by a blue moat. And if Grant County were in the UK, this moat would've been paid for by the taxpayers. Ah yeah, this MP public finance scandal will be Gordy's undoing!

Grant County was founded in 1862 by a man who wanted to set up a tar and feather business free of Northeastern regulation and interference from the political machines. He died after walking into a silo with a lit cigar. And then for a long time, nothing happened. The seal states "2008" because that's the first year the farms in Grant County turned a profit even counting federal subsidies. This most pleasant of news has returned some interest for people to start moving to this area, and that is what this journal is going to chronicle! Maybe...

Grant County Map

Grant County is divided into ten townships, and each of these townships is further subdivided into townsites. No one knows where the rule came from that townsites had to be square and one of three sizes, but there is little political will to change the law down there in the State Capitol. Farm land was dispensed under the Homestead Act, the Driving The Indians Off The Land And Bribing The Sheriff Act and the Here's Hoping We Can Grow Enough Wheat To Pay Off The Second Mortgage Act.

That's all for this update, especially since I'm tired and already working way past government hours as it is. Check back for a tour of the vast farmlands and bucolic splendor that is Grant County!

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