Today, Night City is healing from the ravages of the last tumultuous decades. But it should never be forgotten that like most of America, Night City, still an armed society under a blanket of appalling poverty, violence, and inequity. It's not uncommon to see as many guns as briefcases on the crowded City streets; and while the worst days of chaos may be over, the danger still remains, society's rule collapsed before and may yet do so again. History can repeat itself, and there's always another gang just around the corner, waiting for its chance to come out on top, no matter what the cost. This was the bitter lesson America was learning at the end of the 20th century.
After the collapse, Many Megacorps began looking to establish their own urban areas: controlled cities free of crime, poverty, and debt. City governments would be Corporate-run, allowing optimum zoning and no anti-business elements to interfere with Corporate growth. But the right combination of business savvy and city engineering prowess was only a distant hope, until Richard Night came on the scene.
A Man With a Dream
Born in Pasadena, California, Richard Night was the second of five children. His parents were both researchers at Caltech, specializing in materials science. Night showed an aptitude for engineering at a relatively early age, but when a joint venture with his college roommate (noted business tycoon Romney Zukarian) turned sour, the angry Night shifted his major from engineering to business financial investment. Armed with his new knowledge of the ins and outs of business, Night soon regained his company from his old rival.
Applying his backgrounds in engineering and investment, Night soon founded Halsey, Ferris, and Night, a development company specializing in using advanced construction techniques to build massive mega-projects such as office complexes, airports, and even small cities. HFN was wildly successful in the years before the Collapse, leading to the construction of many large model communities around the world.
Night & The Spectre of the Collapse
Concerned by the violence and disruption of the impending Collapse, Night decided that he was uniquely situated to deal with the problem. Starting a side company (Night Industries) to protect his partners, Night began to plan a new city, an environment that would be controlled and ultimately safe from the ravages tearing the world apart. His new city would be completely planned, self-sufficient, and capable of holding off even the most determined marauders. It would boast planned neighborhoods dedicated to preserving the feel of different types of nationalities and cultures, as well as a super-modern Corporate Center that would stand as a shining beacon of enlightened capitalism. It was ambitious, far-reaching, and visionary in its approach.
The only problem was where to put it. Night was going to need a lot of land for his new city development, as well as access to both ocean parts and modern highways to deliver the huge amount of materials that he would need to construct it. He sent scouting teams to scour the East and West Coasts of the besieged United States, but in the end it was a small article in the San Francisco Chronicle that caught his eye: an article describing an incident of post-holocaust horror that had taken place in a small town along the Central California coast.
The Morro Bay Massacre
Throughout the last decades of the 20th century, Morro Bay and San Luis Obispo had suffered a long history with the Hell's Angels and other local go/biker gangs (a gogang is a cyber-enhanced biker gang), mostly because there was very little law enforcement on the fringes of the California Coast and the area was also a hub for two major highways (Highway 1 and U.S. 101). During the Collapse, San Luis law enforcement and the Hell's Angels legacy boostergangs began a turf war that spilled over to Morro Bay. The Boosters took over the town in a five-day rampage that ended with many of the 10,000 people who lived there either dead, maimed, or fleeing the tiny town (there were only about 4,000 families there to begin with). The entire area became a ghost town that no one wanted to go back to, known to all as the site of the infamous Morro Bay Massacre.
The Coronado City Partnership
Based on its dark history, maverick developer Richard Night was able to buy the remnants of the ghost town of Morro Bay for pennies on the dollar. He was aided by Petrochem, who had taken over the now-abandoned Dynergy power plant and was already planning to set up an offshore port and oil-terminal site. Bankrolled by Merrill, Asukaga, & Finch (who wanted to make the new city a financial hub) Night and Petrochem hired Arasaka to clean out the boostergangs and make the place "safe" again. Further funds came from external (and somewhat shady) investors lured to the project by the promise of lucrative building contracts and possible sources of extralegal income. To avoid the stigma of the Morro Bay Massacre, the Partnership renamed the area Del Coronado Bay, the site of their new city of Coronado. However, thanks to the rather out-sized personality of its founder, Coronado City soon became colloquially known by locals as "Night's City."
The Rebuilding of Morro Bay
Coronado City needed more room than was in the original geology of the Bay, so Night leveled the surrounding hills and dumped them into the ocean as fill (just as San Francisco had done years ago for the 1939 World's Fair). He reshaped the bay so that the formerly narrow sand spit to the west was widened to about 10 miles. He also re-dredged the harbor making it capable of porting the large ships needed to build the city; this dirt also ended up as fill on the western edge.
A City of Neighborhoods
Coronado City truly reflected its creator's eclectic vision. Instead of a huge construction of steel and glass, Night's urban plan broke the new city into a series of neighborhoods, each with a different architectural style and theme, much like the original Disneyland park's various "lands" (e.g. Frontierland, Tomorrowland, Adventureland, New Orleans Square, and Fantasyland).
A faux east coast neighborhood (Upper Eastside and Little Italy) encompassed elements of Boston, New York, and Philadelphia, while Studio City and Charter Hill reflected the western styles of Seattle and San Francisco. Lake Park, Westhill Gardens, and the University District were primarily set aside as comfortable urban living spaces, ranging from faux brownstones to pseudo-Victorian gingerbread homes, interspersed with plenty of small shops, restaurants, and businesses within easy walking distance. New Harbor and the East Marina were designated as the site of a world-class mall, equivalent to San Francisco's tony Galleria with an open Marina area that could handle yachts, cruise ships, and other recreational boating activities (the main industrial port would be established north of the city in North Oak). Even the Asian districts (Little China and Japantown) were distinctly different, reflecting the individual cultural styles of each area, as well as a smattering of other Southeast Asian locales in the Eastpark area adjacent to Japantown. In addition, Night also paid homage to the late and lamented small hamlet of Morro Bay by recreating much of the original layout of the area in a small-town, open-air environment reminiscent of a seaside village called Old Downtown.
City Center and the Corporate Center were, of course, glittering zones of high-rises and corporate parks. It was here that Night showed off his personal architectural skills in the designs of the many corporate "starscrapers" that were the most visible sign of Coronado City's rising affluence. Night's vision was indeed expansive and truly visionary. The only catch came when he started to build it.
The Mob Moves In
Although Petrochem and MA&F were the major bankrollers for the Coronado Partnership, they had one disadvantage: they weren't construction companies. For a job like Coronado City, the Partnership was going to need someone who could bring in the machines and workforce to actually dig the holes and put up the steel.
They ended up with the Mob.
The Fall of Night City
The West Coast Mobs (Mafia, Yakuza, etc, etc.) had maintained a stranglehold on heavy construction on the "left coast" for decades. They controlled the construction unions, the transport unions, and most of the governmental agencies in charge of construction licenses, environmental impacts, and other building necessities. By investing a not inconsiderable sum in the Partnership (through a series of shell corporations), the Mobs hoped to not only make a staggering amount of return on lucrative construction work, but also have the inside track on future gambling, prostitution, and drug franchises in the new city.
But Night's visionary plan required using his own advanced building techniques and materials, excluding a number of established unions and construction firms controlled by his organized crime partners. This didn't make them happy, and Night's further insistence that his new city would be safe and crime free angered them even more. During the first four years of construction, there were daily threats against Night's life.
A proud and self-reliant man, he typically ignored them. When the threats escalated to the level of sabotage and intimidation, he called in his Corporate allies, who dealt with the threats in a ruthless, but limited, manner. Finally, Night's luck ran out. On September 20th, 1998, he was shot and killed in his penthouse suite at the top of the newly constructed Parkview Tower. Night's killer was never apprehended. In his memory, the newly appointed City Council officially renamed Coronado City "Night City."
Four years after initial construction, powerful gang bosses murdered Night and took over the Coronado City project.
By 2005, the Mob had become the king of the hill. The Corporations established their strongholds in the outlying "Beavervilles" and their lofty Corporate Plaza fortresses. They had little or no interest in running the City, and the civic leaders were unable to lead without Corporate masters to pull the strings and provide the muscle.
Organized crime may be great at being organized to do crimes, but it's not as good at running a city. Within a year of opening, Coronado City's city government was replaced by corrupt Mob-selected puppets and even Petrochem and MA&F found themselves shoved aside in the rush to make the quick illegal Eurobucks.
Between selling contracts to their cronies, setting up drug and extortion rackets, and generally inviting the scum of the Collapse into the area, the mobs managed to turn a relatively clean, modern city into an embattled war zone. Crime, drugs, prostitution, random violence, and cybernetic terrorism soon became the rule of law. By 2009, the name Night City had taken on a grim and deadly new meaning.
These years were the "dark ages" of Night City, with more murder in that four-year span than there were for most cities in ten. The Mob ruled the city with an iron fist, killing anything in its way. Gang activity was at an all-time high during this period, with notorious gangs like the Blood Razors and the Slaughterhouse making their debut.
Night City soon became the closest thing to hell on earth: a war zone where you were just as likely to have your car blown up as have its radio stolen. The number of unsolved murders documented by the police rose into the thousands.
The Megacorps Take Over
After four years of street warfare, in 2009 the Corporations finally decided they'd had enough. From 2009-2011, during the period of conflict now called the Mob War, the Corporations battled the underworld for control of Night City. It must be understood that the Corporations didn't go to war over such lowly concerns as people or basic human decency. This was business. Like a rival Corporation, the Mob had its own goals, and these didn't fit into the Corporate agenda. If the Mob wouldn't play by the rules, the Corps could deal with them on the same level. Led by Arasaka-trained paramilitary troops in assault vehicles, fan tanks, and AV combat aerodynes, a wave of bombings, assassinations, and outright street battles descended upon the Mob's ill-prepared cadres.
When the smoke cleared, the Corporations had utterly destroyed the Mob's power base in Night City. From then on, any time the Mob crossed one of the Corps, they made sure to do it by the rules of Big Business. At the end of the Mob War, the Corporations placed a puppet mayor in power and started cleaning up the City. The newly elected Council, faced with the return of chaos in Night City, deputized Corporate security forces and allowed them full authority within city limits. The Corporate and city centers were cleaned out and restored to their pristine state. The other neighborhoods were also cleaned out (sometimes with varying levels of success) and made livable again. Marginally.
The Corps' draconian policies contributed to the City's now chronic homeless problem; if you didn't have enough money to pay for the renovated version of the place you were living in, you were kicked out by force. This ultimately put hundreds on the street as affordable housing was upgraded and used to house the troops the Corporations needed to maintain order. In later years, this situation eased as fewer enforcers and security teams were needed to keep the streets safe.
By 2013, much of the worst excesses of the City had been crushed under the ruthless heel of the Megacorps. The basic services such as Police, Fire, and support services had been reestablished, and if the Corporate masters were oppressive, at least to the average punk on The Street, it was better than dodging gunfire on the way to the Vendit booth.