|Ruler||Mayor William Holloway|
Inhabitants of New Lyeford
Locations in New Lyeford
Organizations in New Lyeford
Districts of New Lyeford
New Lyeford lies on a small island in Saldon's Harbor, on New Barlovia's east coast. The island is connected to the mainland via the Grand Blue Bridge, and all traffic entering New Lyeford from the mainland must cross this bridge and pay the toll.
The Commissioners' Plan of 1489 called for twelve avenues running east-west along the island, each 100 feet wide, with Queen's Avenue on the south side and Harbor Avenue in the north. The numbered streets in New Lyeford run north-south, and are 60 feet wide, with about 200 feet between each pair of streets. With each combined street and block adding up to about 260 feet, there are almost exactly 20 blocks per mile. The typical block in New Lyeford is 250 by 600 feet. Fifteen crosstown streets, which are some of the city's most significant transportation and shopping venues, were designated as 100 feet wide. A handful of thoroughfares run diagonally to the grid, and intersect with it at the city's several public squares. Midtown Green is a very large open parkland in the exact center of the city.
The city's rapid growth has led to the expansion of suburbs on the mainland, with suburbs near the west end of the Grand Blue Bridge being the oldest. While most of these suburbs are home to working-class families and the poor, there are a handful of posh neighborhoods on forested mainland hills where upper-class families maintain estates.
The upper classes own a large portion of the city, and live in the best housing. They control most of the economy, and work cooperatively through "trusts," "committees," etc. to perpetuate their own prosperity. They behave much more like the continental nobility in terms of hanging together and working hand in glove than in days past, when competition was the rule of the day. Nevertheless there are rivalries – mainly between progressives who want to improve conditions for the poor, and those who favor simply keeping them down by any means possible.
The middle class has virtually vanished. Many middle class people have been functionally absorbed into the aristocracy, enlarging it. The deals by which many of the "very wealthy" got to retain their status despite the loss of external capital involved extending credit and capital to those "well to do" but not "rich" individuals beneath them. Others fell out the cracks, and were absorbed into the artisan class. Today the middle class is mostly a few individuals such as owners of artisan businesses, inventors, and entertainers – people who are not quite "good enough" to mingle freely with the aristocracy but are accepted on a limited basis and in their own social circles. It is worth realizing that a "small" class in New Lyeford is still tens of thousands, so there are certainly middle class events and social circles.
Skilled workers are generally referred to as the "artisan class." Of course within this class are wide distinctions. A luthier may be vastly better off than a carpenter. Butchers and many other tradesmen are lumped into this class.
Together the upper three classes make up about 40% of the population of the city. The remaining 60% are poor laborers, working menial jobs or no job at all. They are guaranteed a ration card, and can stand in a bread line. The common thinking among the upper classes today proposes a minimal welfare state as the price the rich should pay for tolerating rapid social and economic change without generating civil unrest. This lesson has been taken to heart in New Lyeford, and every member of the laboring class is issued a small "assurance" payment weekly. Most are immediately and mercilessly shaken down by a gang which takes a large percent of an already tiny amount in return for "protection" largely from the gang itself.
It would be a mistake to consider that the criminal gangs are at war with the city. Nothing could be further from the truth. The activity of the gangs is vital to the continuation of the social order. The gangs involuntarily exhaust the lower classes in futile war against each other, and enforce (and only occasionally violate) "treaties" by which the better areas of town are given an immunity. The leaders are bribed and subsidized heavily.