Mega City One

Magdalena kusowska megacity 1
(an excerpt from the Judge Dredd Core Book, pgs 152-154)

Mega City One – A Mile High View

Mega-City One spans the eastern seaboard of the United States of America, ranging from Maine in the north right down to North Carolina in the south and across to the west as far as Atlanta, Dayton, Cleveland and up to Hartford: an area of around 125,000 square kilometres. The entire
area of Mega-City One is urbanised: what little agricultural land that exists is contained within the massive Agridomes that provide year-round, fully-automated crop production of basic vegetable proteins that go into the staple food of the city; munce. Otherwise, that entire stretch of eastern North America is a seemingly endless urban sprawl, the result of over-zealous metropolitan planning to deal with the burgeoning population of the early 21st Century and the development of new building materials and techniques allowing structures to go higher, more safely, more cheaply and in greater concentrations than ever before. Mega-City One spreads across and down the North American coastline like a virus, its nucleus being the Washington/New York/Boston axis, and its only limit being the sensibility of the architects who realised that Mega-City One had to have a plan and had to have an end somewhere.

So Mega-City One evolved to provide all these things. As disparate cities merged and land at ground level became scarce, the developers just went up, creating buildings that would stretch up to a mile high. The city’s various sectors, centred on the old city boundaries, gained more and more levels to support the burgeoning starscrapers and city blocks. Man’s ambitions were lofty and the buildings loftier still. Perspective was lost as the physical perspective rocketed towards the heavens. Super-strong alloys like plasteen and plastisteel made the safest structures ever known. Numerous levels made layered cities, like the strata of a rock, so that a population far larger than a traditional city of the same area could be accommodated. And, for a while, the experiment worked. People fl ocked into the Mega-City, taking advantage of free homes and exceedingly cheap food and free energy, desperate to take advantage of the
Lifestyle of the Future. The city fl oor fell away from them; their horizons were dominated by the heights of the city blocks and the spaghetti-like morass of megways, skedways and inter-zooms. The future seemed boundless; the people were happy. Mostly. An abundance of leisure time and the service of obedient, uncomplaining robots, meant people could indulge themselves on a scale that had never been possible.

The Mega-City One experiment was copied everywhere. Mega-City Two developed along the west coast and along similar lines, the city absorbing every urban centre between Seattle and San Diego. Texas City sprang up around Houston and soon encompassed the whole of the state of
Texas and parts of Arkansas. In Russia, the East Meg cities developed around Moscow and St Petersburg. In the United Kingdom, Brit-Cit saw London swarm across the south coast and pulse upwards to the midland cities of Birmingham, Leicester and across the Norwich. In Australia, Oz repeated the trend along the vastness of the east coat, taking in Sidney, Melbourne and up to Cairns. Every nation had to have a Mega-City. Sometimes two. All of them modelled themselves on Mega-City One but none of them equalled it; not in terms of ambition, grandeur or, sadly, rime.

It was inevitable that the American Dream would turn into a nightmare, because America had ever had a good track record where dreams were concerned. The incredible complexities of administrating Mega-City One meant that traditional policing rapidly became inefficient. With a population, at its height, of 800 million, governing the city was beyond even the capabilities of the politicians who had been Mega-City One’s architects. Much could be automated, of course; and much was. But what cannot be automated and controlled is the human propensity for boredom and selfi shness. The citizens of Mega-City One had everything they wanted but, as is always the case, people wanted more. When there are two few police and when those police are virtually invisible, selfishness sets-in and people forget about the rules that society needs to function properly. When the judicial system grinds to a virtual halt because it has failed to keep pace with the rapid progress of a city’s expansion, people can, and do, get away with murder. Create any utopia and humans will be guaranteed to turn it into a dystopia. The American Dream turned sour and then went rotten. It was inevitable. Progress is always pursued by the elements of decay.

Crime, then, became rampant. The city became very, very full. The Immigration Laws of 2055 aimed to curb the swarms of people who wanted to get into an over-full metropolis but merely succeeded in causing mass civil unrest. Deep in the heart of Mega-City One, buried in the layers of metro-levels, segregated by the skedways and overzooms, organised crime – something almost stamped-out in the early 21stCentury – spewed its way back into life and set about
corrupting those who could be corrupted, far from the sight of traditional justice. Mega-City One’s dark places became darker. The higher reaches became the goal of those who had plenty of money and they ensured that they insulated themselves from the damp-rot seeping up through the
plasteen of the city blocks. That dream of all citizens living in equality evaporated like tears dropped into a blast furnace: segregation and class distinctions asserted themselves just
as they always would – because humans are, inherently, selfish brute-beasts who revert to a natural state of war at the first opportunity. As an experiment in architectural and technological magnificence, Mega-City One was a triumph.

As an experiment in social harmonisation, it was an abject failure. As one wit remarked, ‘If that guy Darwin was still around, he’d be sayin’, “Gee. Like, I told you so!”’

Mega City One

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