On March 9th, 2004, an announcement was made on the official Second Life forums. The Lab was going to offer several regions with a double prim allowance, decorated with Linden-created infrastructure. The notion was to provide an area that would appear city-like, where people could build taller, denser structures.
"Governor Linden has decreed that a fine new city should rise in the West, and we're dedicating four sims to the cause," said Haney Linden. "Building a dense urban environment requires prims – lots of prims— so only half of the city will be sold and plots will boast a double allotment. To jump-start the urban planning process, the new city will come pre-equipped with the infrastructure of a metropolis– streets, sidewalks, alleys, bridges, canals, public transit, and boulevards will all be provided."
To anyone in Bay City, this description will sound somewhat familiar. Its not about our beloved City by the Bay, however, but Nova Albion, the four region block of Sistiana, Grignano, Miramare, and Barcola.
The new land was in a prestigious location, just east of the Nova Albion welcome area. This was important in those days before point-to-point teleportation, as the Welcome Area served as a major infohub and entry for new users.
|Original Infohub at Miramare|
Both Venice and Yamato Town (aka Shangri-La) -- older projects similar to the previously discussed Americana -- would also overlook this new city. Furthermore, the Luna Oaks Galleria would be connected to the new city.
The latter inspired the second post about Nova Albion posted by Xenon Linden, which included a quote from master explorer Magellan Linden himself.
"During a recent excavation at the Luna Oaks shopping mall I discovered evidence of a lost city beyond the western edge of the known world," said Magellan, adding, "I have followed the rumors and hearsay for quite some time trying to verify the existence of the city, known from legend as Nova Albion. Based on this new evidence I am now confident that the city does (or did) exist, and that it may be quite close to the Luna Mall. I will report back with any new findings as they surface."
|One of the snapshots originally presented on the forums shows Xenon Linden - the primate avatar shown - working on Nova Albion infrastructure.|
A 24th of March, 2004 post on the forums brought more details as the first pictures of the nascent city were revealed, including an overhead shot showing the full city, as well as pictures of the "restored" trolley system" of the city. This is the trolley that still exists today, running sporadically from the Galleria to the Welcome Area. Apparently, "voltage irregularities" plagued the system from the very beginning, leading to unusual behaviour in Second Life trolleys early on.
|This image shows the first view the public saw of Nova Albion. It and several other snapshots can be seen at the infohub in Miramare.|
The first auctions for land in Nova Albion were also announced on the 24th. The first landowners in the city were Xavier VonLenard, Surina Skallagrimson, Planet Mars, Drift Monde, Catherine Cotton, Ezhar Fairlight, Nicola Escher, Surreal Farber, Artimesia Twilight, and Chromal Brodsky. It would not be long before Salazar Jack would also join Nova Albion, willing the parcels where the Brownstone East and Brownstone West exist to this day.
The four regions of Nova Albion would later be home to many of Second Life's best-known early residents, including Cubey Terra, Khamon Fate, LisaHot Juran, Cybin Monde, Caroline Apollo, Lordfly Digeridoo, Enjah Mysterio, and Osprey Therian.
Catherine Cotton was locally well known for offering free apartments in the early days, while Khamaon Fate was locally known for the library.
Nova Albion -- with its city theme, its double prims, and its trolley -- laid the groundwork for Bay City, but there was two more things that Nova Albion can claim to have inspired.
The community around Nova Albion, a cooperative bunch that made up a group called the "City Slickers," worked in part with Linden Land to help improve their city. The City Slickers and their involvement in Nova Albion helped inspire the creation of the Bay City Alliance
It was Salazar who would primarily re-imagine the infohub for Nova Albion after Lordfly reached out to Linden Lab to get the ball rolling. Initially, a floating "telehub" platform in Miramare, Salazar would create a mock up of what would eventually become the hub in early 2006. This mock up became the hub central to Nova Albion today.
Quite a few of the original Nova Albion Xenon artefacts, on loan to the City Slickers group, are on display in the Barcola section (northwest) of the Miramare Infohub. These include the aforementioned Polaroid pictures (two of which are included in this article), an original Nova Albion Trolley System Map scrap, and ruins of old Nova Albion that survived and were found by Magellan and crew.
Lordfly initially designed the bridge that spans the main street through Nova Albion -- now part of Route 66, and Salazar who designed the bridge supports and brick motif.
Lordfly also built the large arch in Grignano, another long-time build in the city. He sold the arch to The Brownstone Building Association when they purchased his land in southern Grignano, and the original arch itself was included in the land sale. The arch's prims today show his creator status.
As an aside, it is beneath Lordfly's arch that Salazar, now, is forming a historic "Arch" district.
There has been some prim drift over the years, most notably some of the Linden infrastructure was either left, or became, editable by anyone, resulting in sections of prims that were moved or are now missing. An example, missing canal walls between the two Brownstone buildings in Grignano.
A big change for Nova Albion occurred when the southern sea route opened up with the void south of Grignano filled in with the Luna East region, the relocated sandbox regions and the water route connecting to Abbotts and points east.
There's still the matter of a second thing that Nova Albion inspired: tucked into the infohub is a graffiti message that reads, "Beware the Mole People" A more sinister sign can be found elsewhere in Nova Albion, in a hidden and long-forgotten spot in the old city, in a pair of locations that, for safety's sake, we shall not disclose.
|A mysterious message hidden in Nova Albion. That mole doesn't seem quite like the cuddly LDPW type to me.|
it was this that helped shape the future Linden Department of Public Works, aka the Moles. Their first big project? Bay City.
Next time, a look at the "infinite City" project!
Note: Marianne McCann would like to thank Salazar Jack for his assistance on this particular piece, filling in many gaps into the history of Nova Albion.
Reporter Historian Marianne McCann