Located an hour’s drive north of Bark Bay, the state’s fifth-largest city serves as the financial, industrial, and cultural center for the entire region. Commonly referred to as the city by the region’s residents, the city has a population of just under one hundred thousand, with an extended metropolitan population of half a million.
The city was no larger than Bark Bay until the lumber boom passed in the early nineteenth century. Railroads soon came to the region, and when the primary commercial track was laid through the city and far from Bark Bay, the future of both was sealed — the city soon became the principal transportation and financial hub for the region, and Bark Bay began its steady population decline.
Industry (textile, paper) and finance soon replaced agriculture as the principal activities in the city. Its strong financial infrastructure eased the economic transitions of industries coming and leaving. In the early twentieth century, several cultural institutions were established — museums, theaters, athletic stadiums — with many of them surviving to the current day, if not nearly in the condition they once enjoyed. Immigration also began in earnest in the early 1900s, and within decades several ethnic neighborhood communities were established, and have also continued.
But the city isn’t immune to American urban problems. Violence and crime seem incurable; a persistent economic stagnation has decreased tax revenues, leading to a reduction in city services. The streets are often unclean, electric service sometimes unreliable. Schools, never a strength of the city, have declined notably.
Young people in Bark Bay regularly visit the city for shopping, entertainment, and activity. The city gives them a taste of what life could be like outside their little world. The city is busy, dirty, occassionally violent — but most importantly, it is not Bark Bay.