Des Capitales has grown to nearly half a million residents, and many of the arrondissements have changed significantly in that time. Most significantly has been the somewhat controversial decision by the city to build the off-shore artificial island of Île de Monument Sud.
Home to a few wealthy tech companies, and the elite, only a small fraction of housing has remained affordable on the booming island. But while developments in Des Capitales have been exciting, today I wanted to take you on a tour of the second largest city in the metropolitan area, officially known as Clé de Fer.
The Island, or rather collection of Islands, is better known to locals by it's English name, "The Iron Keys". When it was first founded, the Iron Keys were a primarily industrial mining locale, and attracted immigrants from other countries with promises of employment and a new life. As the name suggests, the keys were, and still are, home to a large metals extraction industry. Local custom eschews traditional geographic notions of viewing north at the top of the map, due to the importance of the bridge to the mainland from the southwest side of the main island.
The Iron Keys themselves consist of four islands, and a large portion of the coast of the Iron Peninsula.
This map shows the major settlements of the Baie itself. Des Capitales can be seen on the eastern shore, with both of the Île de Monuments off the coast, giving way to the Baie itself, and its many islands, before coming to the Iron Peninsula which separates and protects the Baie and its communities from the Ocean.
Life on the main island, called simply "Iron Key" is dominated by harsh and unforgiving geography. Here we see the island's sharp rise from Mondamin Square, the financial heart of the city:
Roadways on the Keys push the limits on modern vehicles, causing high turn over, a factor which adds to the island's healthy automobile manufacturing sector, and was a major influence in the building of the Fenlon Elevator Company, which runs the cities underground funicular subway system.
While most of the city commutes by car, the islands see a high level of ferry use, and pedestrian traffic as a result of both the overall density of the 250,000 inhabitants, and the geographic constraints.
Located near the highest point of the Island is the Université Scientifique et Technique de la Baie, or USET.
USET is located near the modern airport and convention center, at the site of one of the original strip mines. Older industry was cleared for the airport complex after the University was founded to train the children of the original English speaking immigrants. The official language of instruction at USET is French, but custom allows for English instruction in most of the courses.
South of USET, and at the summit is the USET Technology Park, home to many high tech companies which have helped move the Keys economy into the 21st century from their earlier mining and manufacturing roots.
Descending from the tech park to the South is the popular, albeit dangerous, Vista Avenue.
Properties along Vista Avenue are among the most expensive on the Island, and at their base is the famous Studio Beach, home to a movie production industry, and booming nightlife.
The east side of the Island is home to the Club de Loisirs, and associated port and beaches, popular with the elite of Des Capitales, and other cities in the metropolitan area.
Off the coast of the water front is the elite community of North and South Providence Islands.
which form the third and fourth largest islands in the Iron Keys. Separated from the mainland, except by ferry, the culture remains distinct, and the Island has fought against service by the Fenlon Elevator Company, largely due to the revenue generated by the Ferry system itself.
Ports for shipping and transit play a large role in life on the Islands, as the only means to move goods on or off, without a length trip to the Eastern Peninsula.
Industry still plays a large role in the local life, with much manufacturing still done in the city, whether on the main island's old strip mine sites, the heights of the high tech parks, or Airport Island's manufacturing industry.
Site of the original airport, which still sees quite a bit of business travel, Airport Island is home to some of the largest manufacturers in the region, and unlike Providence Islands, is connected by a large bridge, and an elevated rail bridge which serves to provide the city with services from the Fenlon Elevator Company. Much to Fenlon's chagrin, however, while subway use is popular on the Island, locals have been somewhat reluctant to use it as a connection to the mainland, or vice versa.
The last part of our tour considers the perpetually disenfranchised South Shore of the Keys.
Looked down on by residents of the islands, the South Shore is part of the Iron Keys, but culturally and economically divorced from the Keys.
While there is some commuter traffic to and from the South Shore and the Keys themselves, it is dwarfed by the economic connection to the mainland.
The South Shore is viewed as uncultured, dirty, lower class, and uneducated by the keys themselves, with "Southie" a common insult on the Islands used to denote someone who is uncouth, violent, or unwanted.