(....continuation from part 5)
At the end of 2007, Second Life was booming. Millions had flooded into Second Life over the year, and big business was setting up shop. You could find Reuters, American Apparel, NBC, and Playboy rubbing shoulders with Canimal, Bare Rose, and other Second Life brands of the time.
Likewise, the Second Life Mainland could not be minted fast enough, as the Nautilus and Corsica continents took shape, and work began on the Gaeta continent. Everyone was looking for their pot of gold, just behind a particle rainbow.
It was Jack Linden, then in charge of land in Second life, who came up with an idea for a double-prim, themed urban area. A new take on what was already in Nova Albion, but as Michael Linden put it, with "a more harmonious look to it."
It was Michael and Blue Linden who were tasked with this urban area project, a counterpoint to the endless rolling hills of the then-ongoing mainland expansion.
They considered many different styles, though it was Jack who is credited with finally hitting the nail on the head: art deco. All three agreed that this was the theme to move on.
But I’m getting ahead of myself again.
Part of the plan for this city was with expansion in mind. Like the rest of the burgeoning Mainland, the goal was to make it easier to grow the city as needed, taking on regions from some preset roads and canals, allowing for quick additions with minimal work.
But they also wanted to avoid making things feel too repetitive. As explained in this very publication in 2015 (after opening the link search for Wuznu Pussycat), the goal was to avoid a grid layout, allowing for "a more organic, creative type of neighbourhood."
Blue created a concept involving four regions. Infinite City was born: a block of four regions that defined the basic layout of the city’s roads and canals so that each could easily and quickly connect with each other no matter which region's layout was connected to which.
|Infinite City: the four map tiles that would serve as a template for the city project|
Michael would further refine this, taking the basics of Infinite City and giving them form, creating the parcels for these four regions, and defining where parcels would be.
And yes, around this time, the name of this city takes shape: Bay City.
|Early forms of what would become Bay City. Eagle-eyed readers may find some distinct locations that never came to be|
To allow for this "prim bonus," however, more than half the land had to be kept in Linden Lab's hands, with those builds being somewhat half of the average land impact. This would be the roads, the canals, the parks, and anything contained on them.
The art deco theme would be further refined by Blue and Michael, both of which had a distinct interest in the look and feel of this new city. With "art deco" as the basis, they expanded on this in the blog post announcing this area to the public on 22 February, 2008, saying, "The style is the American urban experience, between 1940 and 1965, perhaps best typified by Chicago circa 1950 and marked by a distinct deco influence."
You can see that in the builds they initially provided in the city, such as the Bayjou Theater, Hot Balls" bowling alley, and Cafe Deco. Even the industrial park, shown below being towered over by Blue Linden, shows a distinctly urban waterfront.
|Blue Linden, the large dragon-like monster avatar - stomps around the maquette for the industrial park|
And yes, one cannot deny the involvement of both Blue and Michael, with the latter's interest in trains and airships helping the city gain a trolley, water trolley, and balloon system, and the former's key involvement in Americana leading Bay City to have its own Route 66 cutting through the city.
The city opened to preview on the 8th of May, 2008. A second copy of Bay City was also added to what was then "Teen Second Life." This eventually would become the Westside of Bay City after TSL closed.
As Bay City began, Second Life itself was changing. Two months after Bay City was announced, Linden Lab founder Philip Linden would step down as CEO, handing the reins to Mark Kingdon, aka M Linden. Prims were soon to be unseated as the content of choice as Qarl Linden's sculpties became a quick and very dirty way to get simple mesh-like content into Second Life. Second Life's Fifth Birthday -- a watershed moment that stands as the end of Second Life's "early days" -- would also be announced just days after the Bay City preview would begin.
There were bigger things afoot, too. the global economy would take a downturn in 2008, and we'd see Second Life effected as the rapid expansion cooled. Land barons who had once gobbled up mainland would contract a bit, with many focusing on the brand-new city, grabbing parcels and flipping them between each other, leading to the high prices the city still commands today.
Still, I can't help but wonder what may have happened: places like Squishybottom’s Roadhouse in Wellfleet Harbor had been planned to be used as music venues, The Bayjou Theater was intended to be a machinima showcase, and even Hot Balls was planned for "league night" bowling. Plans that never came to be.
Blue Linden was laid off from the lab as part of a larger series of lay-offs at the end of M Linden's tenure, just two years later. Jack would follow, moving onto work elsewhere. Michael, too, would leave the lab a few years later.
What about Bay City? It still thrives to this day, the product of years of innovation in Second Life, and home to a vibrant community much like those of its forebears.
|Art for an unused "welcome sign" for Bay City, provided by Blue Linden|
Reporter Historian Marianne McCann