Kieselburg is both the capital city of New Ozark and its most populous city. It lies on the shore of Bagnell Lake, about 275 kilometers southwest of the Oldtown St. Louis.
- Significant Neighborhoods
HistoryKieselburg was originally founded in the late 21st century as Lakehaven, an exclusive gated community built to provide the wealthy an escape from the discomforts of urban life. Its selling points included a scenic location, proximity to the hydroelectric dam (and thus protection from the increasingly common brownouts and blackouts), and a discreet but formidable security force.
As the Shortage worsened, Lakehaven, like dozens of similar communities across the Americas and Europe, became its own self-sufficient and insular little world. The core community grew more opulent; security and support staff formed protected townships outside the walls, and shantytowns of unemployables grew up outside of that to service the residents' less respectable needs. By the mid-2100s Lakehaven had settled comfortably into neo-feudalism, class barriers reinforced by the "improvement of the race" via genengineering that led this era to be later called the age of the Gene Lords.
The carnage of the Gene Lord War left Lakehaven appalled but largely untouched; it was never a member of the egalitarian Council for Peace, and entered the Empire of Earth only under duress. Change, however, was inevitable. By 2320 Lakehaven's territorial borders were in flux and its ruling class split into factions. The genengineered "bluebloods" were gradually being pushed out by redblood warlords, who in turn were under pressure from a restive population. Lakehaven was also laboring under a massive surge of refugees from the south as the Ligá del Orden Natural consolidated its power, and to the north hungry neighbors meant innumerable border clashes.
In 2329 the city erupted into a long-expected civil war. After two years a democratic group quietly backed by the Empire emerged as victors, renaming the city Kielselburg after their founder, Joseph Kiesel, who had died in the fighting. After an initial strong start, however, the democratic movement began to founder. The problem, as one former revolutionary wryly noted, was too much stop and not enough go. The Kieselians stopped the abuses of refugees that the previous government had been infamous for, but they had no plans for integrating them into society. They removed the dozens of restrictions that had previously kept the populace "in its place", but did not institute effective programs for advancement. And they stripped away the warlords' crippling tax laws, but failed to replace them with a system that could support government spending. Inevitably, in the absence of competence, corruption set in. Within ten years, New Ozark and Kieselburg had settled into what would be their default state: money and power consolidated in the hands of a few, perennial shortages, a government funded on graft, and a large, restive population of underprivileged.
Currently, though it has been a democracy for nearly a century, New Ozark is ranked among the bottom twenty domains on-planet by the Empire of Earth. Kieselburg itself now boasts a criminal syndicate which is openly acknowledged to control large parts of the city. The country has been in a state of low-grade conflict for nearly fifty years, alternating between rebellions in the Sunlander population and border wars, particularly over the disputed city of St. Louis, and the Army is waxing in both political power and strength. The Empire maintains its policy of non-involvement, but nevertheless there has been a sharp increase in the number of IAF troops garrisoned in Kieselburg over the last decade. As for the ordinary citizens, most keep their heads down, their doors locked, and a suspicious eye on their neighbors.
The GreenwharvesA neighborhood stretching three tiers upwards from Bagnell Lake. It was created by the Kieselians shortly after their ascent to power as a refugee camp; gradually, without any formal attempt at segregation, it became a camp only for Sunlander refugees, and now exists as an entirely Sunlander ghetto. Surrounded on all sides by the city, the growing population has forced the Sunlanders to grow the upper tiers out over the lake, an odd and not particularly stable arrangement of buildings hovering over the water. The Wharves defy the usual class structure of Kieselburg, with wealthy and poor crammed in side by side, high and low, and the atmosphere is generally egalitarian -- towards fellow Sunlanders, at least. Tensions over the Tallboy Rebellions and racial "incidents" in the main city cause the locals to look askance at visiting cangrejos, and any non-Sunlander lingering after dark can expect at best a warning beating from the community patrols. Police and city officials rarely venture into the Wharves, and even l'affaires has little influence here. It is the only area of the city where Spanish is regularly heard.
LowtownTechnically not a neighborhood, but a generic term for street-level Kieselburg. Like most modern cities, Kieselburg has grown up rather than out -- and like most modern cities, the older, shoddier levels of the city house mostly the undesirables. In recent years, however, Kieselburg's Lowtown has undergone a minor revitalization, mostly because the spread of organized crime has improved the supply of everything from drugs to food, and in addition to its red light districts, drug markets, and slums Lowtown now boasts a surprising amount of corner shops and small businesses. The improvement is essentially invisible to outsiders, and to most of Kieselburg Lowtown exists only as a supplier of sex, "spike", and muggings.
OldbarracksIn the early 2100s, with tensions between the United American Republic and the North American Union heating up, the residents of Lakehaven were confronted with a dilemma. On the one hand, given their proximity to the border, they most certainly did want armed protection from the UAR; on the other hand, they did not want large numbers of soldiers and associated riffraff moving through their tidy town. The solution was the Barracks, massive, hulking blocks built a comfortable distance northeast, close enough for comfort but far enough to avoid distasteful contact.
The city has since sprawled to encompass this once distant area, and most of the original buildings are gone, but the Oldbarracks retain their essential character: large, monolithic structures (now mainly office buildings or industry skyscrapers) with shantytowns and poorhouses crowded around their bases. Oldbarracks is simultaneously one of the most prosperous and prestigious places to work in Kieselburg and one of the filthiest, most dangerous slums in Lowtown. There is perennial talk of "cleaning up the Barracks", but as no one has the least idea how to do it, it remains a dumping ground for people even the Lowtowners consider beyond hope.
L'Petit EmpireThe Empire of Earth has at least a few representatives in every domain, but in certain domains the Imperial presence goes beyond the necessary. Kieselburg is one. L'Petit is a relatively low-lying neighborhood, so besides the embassy, Office of the Assessor, IAF barracks, BAID headquarters, staff housing, and legitimate businesses built to serve the residents, there is the inevitable cluster of shady areas catering to the more tawdry urges of the Imperial citizenry. Since the Empire frowns on unnecessary bodily injury to its personell, however, these are some of the safest red-light districts and drug markets in the city. The Rue Rouge, a long street that circles almost half of L'Petit, is considered the locale for Imperials, Uptowners, and tourists to go slumming without risking a visit to the actual slums. Also of note is Kelanin's Square, a bohemian jumble of cafes, shops, and tiny apartments that is a favored hangout for the avante-guarde.
PorttownOne of the few success stories of the Kieselburg government was the construction of a fully outfitted spaceport in 2352. Modern at the time, it shows increasing wear, and is regarded with hostility by Uptowners as a source of undesirables; however, its effect on Kieselburg's economy is undeniable. The port and its associated businesses are estimated to provide employment for a fifth of the city's population, not to mention the steady flow of goods, services, and persons with money who requiring servicing. Porttown is also architecturally unique, having grown down from the port rather than up from the ground as the rest of the city has. Aside from the shipping docks and the port itself, it encompasses a huge number of hotels, bars, brothels, and trade establishments, from the prestigious Port Trade Building all the way down to Cannon Row. The main port is at present the highest point in the city, having been jacked up in 2402 to allow room for further expansion.
Rue de la MondeStill sometimes called by its old name, Rue Rond, Rue de la Monde is a roughly spherical midtown neighborhood situated between Porttown and Oldbarracks. The club from which it takes its name, Autour du Monde, is central, surrounded on all sides by smaller clubs, drug dens, brothels, and casinos; besides this relatively harmless surface, however, Rue de la Monde has a reputation for catering to darker pleasures. It is the place where one can buy anything, patronized by the rich and powerful as much as the lower levels of society, and for many years it has also been both the cash cow and the heart of l'affaires.
It is home to predators of all shapes and sizes, and police presence is nonexistant; anyone coming in without high-level protection risks being robbed, killed, or swept up by the press gangs who openly flout New Ozark's anti-slavery laws. Of course, this only stops those with sense, and the Rue del Monde continues to take its yearly toll on the young and stupid.