New York City is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York metropolitan area, the premier gateway for legal immigration to the United States. New York exerts a significant impact upon commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and entertainment. Home to the headquarters of the United Nations, New York is an important center for international diplomacy and has been described as the cultural and financial capital of the world.
New York City consists of five boroughs: Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, the Bronx, and Staten Island. Manhattan, the most densely populated of the boroughs, is broken into a number of neighborhoods, including Mutant Town.
Although the mutant phenomenon is world-wide, New York has always stood out in the history of mutantkind. It was the site of the Brotherhood's first large-scale attack in 2001, it was the first city to create a Mutant Affairs division of its police force, and the (in)famous Xavier's School is located in nearby Westchester.
For most of the early 20th century, New York's cosmopolitan identity included a reputation for mutant-inclusiveness, with a number of businesses that catered to and showcased mutants. Mutants came to New York from around the world, seeking the community and acceptance that the city offered.
By the 2020s, mutant fear was well-entrenched in most of the country. By 2032, New York stood out as the last remaining state without registration laws. The mutant population in New York exploded.
The highly concentrated population of mutants meant that mutant crime and violence was also steadily climbing. When Revelation staged a massive prison break in upstate New York in 2034, the mood shifted, and ghettoization of mutants and those who welcomed them began.
By 2036, most businesses that openly catered to mutants had been forced to relocate to Alphabet City, now commonly called Mutant Town. It became impossible for obvious or 'out' mutants to rent property outside of Mutant Town, and finding jobs became increasingly difficult as well. Crime and poverty in Mutant Town and the surrounding area rose substantially, and rents fell accordingly. Public distrust of mutants in New York skyrocketed after the government's secret mutant organization, X-Force, all but destroyed Staten Island in an unexplained conflict in 2040.
In 2044, New York became the final state to enact mutant registration laws. Today, it is unusual to see obvious mutants in New York outside of Mutant Town, despite the more than 200,000 mutants who call New York City home.
The Town itself draws a share of adventure-seeking tourists, those willing to brave the potential crime and violence in order to tour the largest population of mutants in the world. Mutant Town has developed its own culture; it is a culture filled with violence and illegal activities, but also one that embraces mutantkind with a fiercely inclusive pride. The southern section of Mutant Town has become home to a vast collection of public art, most of which are murals depicting various aspects of mutant life. There's also a thriving scene of mutant performers in every art possible, if you know where to look - including a very popular underground fighting ring.
Gentrification has turned this largely residential section of northern Manhattan into an expensive, well-kept neighborhood, but residents have worked hard to maintain Harlem's sense of history. Harlem remains awash with culture and community, and it shows in everything from the kids who collect on the steps of townhouses after school to the theatres, clubs, and restaurants that showcase primarily black talent. It's still the New York hot-spot for good BBQ or great jazz. Several newer buildings of gleaming glass and neon provide open-air performances in alcoves carved out sixty-stories up, providing excellent views of Central Park and the Midtown skyline.
The neighborhood also boasts Manhattan's densest population of churches, which range from the massive gothic Cathedral of Saint John the Divine to tiny congregations which meet in storefront churches. Harlem's streets tend to be bustling with locals who congregate in shops and parks with the familiar enthusiasm of a much smaller community.
The Upper West Side showcases a mix of old and new; money, architecture, trends, people. The historical New York aesthetic lingers here in the pretty, tree-lined streets and the rows of townhouses. Many of the smaller buildings have been demolished, however, and have been replaced with tall, glass-fronted buildings housing luxury apartments that boast individual garages for personal aircars and roof-top gardens, complete with tiny lawns and outdoor pools. It's a popular residential location for Chinese businessmen, who pay well for the impeccable views, and the newer high rises tend to mimic the shiny, geometric look of Hong Kong skyscrapers.
Though the Upper West Side is largely residential, a few businesses are tucked here and there, providing restaurants and entertainment and necessities to those who live here.
The beating heart of Manhattan, Midtown attracts locals and tourists alike. The buildings here stretch skywards with insatiable yearning, sketching out the silhouette of New York's famous skyline. It is a modern vision in light and glass. Several buildings are outlined in eye-catching neon, and nearly every tall surface is decorated with moving billboards several stories tall. Constantly-changing tickers keep interested parties updated on the latest stocks and news and baseball scores. Generic storefronts shout their wares at tourists with Eye-catching holographs, and the tourists respond in droves.
Everything in midtown is crowded; the streets and sidewalks pulse with activity, making it impossible not to jostle or be jostled. Even the air above is often gridlocked with aircars making their way through the spaces between buildings in three different levels of regulated airways. The exhaust gives the streets below a misty feel, particularly in the very early mornings. The very rich can catch private taxies or limos from seventy stories up, escaping the mad crush of the mundane humanity below.
Much of the feel of old New York lingers in the architecture of Greenwich Village, where residents and tourists alike have been drawn to the nostalgic brickwork and the zig-zag of iron fire-escapes, many of which have been repurposed as platforms for the never-ending stream of aircars. It serves as a stark contrast to the myriad of other details, all of which add up to make it clear that the Village has embraced the 40s with a vengeance.
The tall windows of Greenwich boutiques show off the latest fashions from Shanghai, and parasols that block the sun are in heavy use even on New York's shadowed streets. Nearly every kind of food is available, while bars and clubs litter the Village in abundance. Most boast a stage, small or large, where they host live music or comedy or poetry. A collection of high-tech art galleries has helped Greenwich maintain its reputation as one of the most influential communities of artists in the world; many galleries offer displays geared toward the viewer through the use of their Eyes, and it's not uncommon to see a passerby stopped in the street to study some bit of public art others around them can't see.
Between its general bohemian sensibilities, its relative proximity to Mutant Town, and the presence of mutant-friendly New York University, Greenwich Village is one of the few sections of Manhattan where traveling as an obvious mutant isn't always an instant recipe for trouble. A few galleries and clubs have been known to showcase carefully-selected mutant artists, who often draw a large, gawking tourist crowd, and some of the apartments near the university are willing to house known mutants for an increased fee.
The neighborhood once known as Alphabet City has spent decades slowly reclaiming its former reputation as Manhattan's most dangerous, crime-ridden area. The stretch of city between Houston and 14th is populated with trash-strewn lots, poorly-lit streets, shady back alleys, and numerous storefronts, many of which have spent more years boarded up than not. A number of burnt-out or abandoned buildings have been broken into become the home of squatters who can't afford even Mutant Town's meager rent. It's the home of the desperate and the home of the principled, the one place where standing out as a mutant might afford you more safety than not, and passing as normal is likely to end in a mugging or worse. Aircars are far less common here than in the rest of Manhattan, and few ever stop within the bounds of Mutant Town.
The buildings here are dirty and dim; most of them escaped the development that marked other, more favorable sections of Manhattan, and almost all are aging buildings that still stand under six stories. Vendors often line the streets, selling food or jewelry or other goods from carts and trucks and blankets spread on the sidewalks. Windows are decorated in equal measure with bars and boards and signs announcing that mutants are welcome.
Graffiti decorates nearly every available surface, marking out gang territory and scribbling warnings for those who know how to read them; one stretch of buildings near the south edge of the neighborhood has become known for its street-art depicting the impressive variance of mutant life. The most famous is a mural that covers the entire width of the brick building at the corner of Houston and Avenue B, greeting all tourists (and their cameras) in six stories of red and black letters: WELCOME TO MUTANT TOWN.
The sprawling influence of Chinatown has spread north and east, infecting much of the Lower East Side with open-air markets and fire-escapes hung with signs bearing Chinese characters in brilliant neon. This is not a tourist-trap; the Lower East Side and nearby Chinatown are bustling centers of business, the perfect place to find the latest fashions or the best pot stickers. The air is thick with the sound of fast-paced Mandarin and the smell of fish laid over the usual sounds and smells of Manhattan.
There's a strip of clubs, bars, and restaurants along northern Allen Street that has gained the reputation of being the hottest place to be on a Friday night. Neon dragons breathe flame at passersby below, while the latest Hong Kong dance tunes throb from basement entrances and revelers hang off balconies overhead to watch the aircars streak by.
Further to the north, the Chinese influence fades, leaving streets filled with the sorts of vibrant, quirky shops that offer up just about anything you're looking for, as long as you're willing to brave aging storefronts and the proximity to Mutant Town.
The longstanding Brooklyn Bridge is adorned with thousands of blue lights, but traffic along the bridge is slow and always met with two checkpoints on either end of the bridge. Automobiles and aircars alike are scanned by looming, blue beams while men in armor patrol the gates at the opposing ends of the bridge; regardless of the security, clever criminals often manage to pass their contraband into Mutant Town beneath the NYPD's noses. The Hugh L. Carey Tunnel is far more dangerous and largely unregulated. Gangs plague the tunnel at night, using airbikes and stolen repulsortech to harass likely targets. The Verrazano Bridge, meanwhile, has maintained itself as the safest option for traveling west.
Brooklyn is an assortment of high rise apartments and office buildings. Towering above everything, just north of Prospect Park, is the H.D.R. Clinton building. The Clinton building is an impressive ninety-three stories, and it is adorned with four large holo-displays that update Brooklyn with news and advertisements.
South of Prospect Park is the Brooklyn D-Train and infamous D-Train Mall, an assortment of small stores located beneath the train. The train is a cacophony of noise above shoppers and shopkeepers. Many of the shops have acquired second-rate holo-displays that depict advertisements and amusing sales-pitches. Each time the train passes overhead, the displays shake and blur until the train has left. The mall is diverse, but largely rundown. In front of the long line of shops are hundreds of food-stalls that stretch far to the south, towards Coney Island.
In terms of square miles, Queens is the largest borough in New York. It is bordered on the north by the East River, and to the south by the great, wide Atlantic. Skyscrapers can be seen to the distant west, though there are plenty of high-rise apartments scattered throughout Queens itself. Dozens of small businesses, apartment complexes, and vacant lots line the streets of Queens.
Graffiti can be seen on many walls, railway and overpass supports, and walkways. Gang violence is common in Queens. Unauthorized, modified aircars and airbikes are a rising problem in the borough. It isn't difficult to find dark alleys or empty lots where thugs lurk, waiting to supply the customer with anything they need. Many signs, billboards, and errant cars are vandalized and left stripped, though most streets signs are left functioning.
The bright lights of Manhattan aren't common in Queens. Some businesses have holo-displays, but they're cheap, frequently vandalized, and rarely work properly. Old cable and telephone lines are routed to most buildings, and large, chipped pipes are exposed on the surfaces of their brick and metal exteriors.
To the north and south, jets can be seen landing and taking off from LaGuardia and J.F.K. The roar of the engines is a constant reminder of the business that enters Queens, and promptly leaves for the brighter, western horizon.