Struggles with density, undersized Freedemian cities.

Posted by Ernestpcosby on 15 November 2016 in English (English)

I actually was planning on writing a user diary about this- I've run into one big issue recently looking at scale and proportion with my cities- while my scale for buildings, exits, etc has actually been somewhat accurate, I actually severely overestimated how big I was drawing my cities on the map. I think I may have forgotten that I was looking at a scale in kilometers instead of miles.

The Idea...

The northwestern coast of Freedemia is supposed to be home to most of the nation's population. I imagine it as a pretty big megalopolis of sorts, an endless band of metropolis from Ciudad Nature over the border down to the southernmost tip of the Quentinsburgh area.

The area @Portopolis pointed out in a user diary entry a couple days back on urban divisions between Haroldsborough and Fort Elwood is a place I hope to fill in with a very dense "suburb" of sorts, probably an extention of Fort Elwood (I'm thinking maybe a city by the name of Southfort). I'm still filling in density in Haroldsborough, Fort Elwood, and Laneston/Vandover (as well as in Quentinsburgh/Mathersboro) so it may be a while before that comes to fruition. Now, as to @Thunderbird's point in the comments, It would have to be far more dense than the Jersey side of the shore (I was thinking more like the denser parts of the Brooklyn/Queens side). I do imagine the northwestern Freedemian Coast as a megalopolis, hopefully in some ways including Ciudad Nature of the Autonomous Province of Nature just over the border.

The Problem...

Looking now, Quentinsburgh, a city that is supposed to have a population approaching 5 million, is smaller in size than somewhat sprawled but smalltownish Raleigh, NC, a city with only about 400,000 people. In order to make that work, I'd need an IMMENSE amount of density, probably more than Manhattan, way too much even for my global modern metropolis-megalopolis idea to work well.

I'm thinking I'm going to have to make the areas surrounding Quentinsburgh far more dense, especially the areas including and surrounding Gillepsie, Meisler, Horizon Springs, Berkeley Ridge, Caroll Hill, Franklin Hill, Hinespoint, Mathersboro, Haroldsborough, etc. I may even have to create density all the way out to Cobble Point, Dogwood and Fort Franklin. This wasn't part of my original plan at all. But it may be interesting to see how it eventually plays out. On a side note, I think my subway network will grow greatly and my commuter rail network will expand exponentially if I make the rest of those areas more dense as it appears I'm going to have to.

The entire northwestern coast is realistically going to need a big change. Laneston and Vandover are even worse in density right now, and it's going to have to be approached in a similar way.

Here are two images that show where I'm currently thinking I'm going to eventually end up going with this:

Density Map 1

Density Map 2

But how?

The thing is, I need that density and that increased land area in order for my idea to work properly. But at the same time, I also don't want to overdo it- in looking at how the expansion would work, I've already observed that a newly expanded Quentinsburgh would likely need another loop highway- and excessive highways have already become a huge issue in OGF.

That's not even mentioning how much of the suburbs I have made may have to be rethought, how much of the subway system I may have to reconsider, etc.

Can the rest of Freedemia balance out the urban coast?

What I'm thinking right now is that other than Trenchent, San Grande, Franklinsburgh, Lake Grander, and Graham City, most of Freedemia is much less urban than the northwestern coast. Maybe if I sort of "diet" the rest of the country, minimizing unnecessary roads, highways, cities, etc, it won't seem as much like overkill.

Any thoughts or feedback would be very helpful. I'm sort of stuck to a point here.

Comment from wangi on 15 November 2016 at 11:27

Some thoughts:

  • Does it really need to be 5 million?
  • Given the city expands it doesn't mean you need to have great infrastructure and additional ring roads. Constrained infrastructure is realistic. Consider you already have an outer ring - the U3 toll. To be honest, do you have too many major roads in the city today, too close?
  • Adding towns and villages along the Q'burgh-P'boro corridor would make sense. Likewise for other major radial routes - build out along the corridors rather than just add the extra areas evenly.
  • I'd add a strip of high density on the barrier islands off H'borough
  • Rather than remove the Judeston hills, just work around them - again, it's realistic

'burgh vs 'boro vs 'borough - argh :)

Hide this comment

Comment from PColumbus73 on 15 November 2016 at 14:41

I don't think you should be discouraged, even though the City of Raleigh (as you compared to) has a population of around 400,000; the combined Raleigh-Durham metro area has a population of around 2 Million. So, if you factor in the estimated population of the greater metro area, you could already be looking at a population of around 5 Million or more.

I would try to imagine the commuting patterns of your coastal region. If Quentinsburgh is your largest city, then it's very reasonable the people will be commuting in from farther away. And considering Quentinsburgh is your nations capitol city, it would be reasonable to expect a massive amount of government employees commuting into the city center from the suburbs. Using New York as an example, people commute to NYC from as far as Albany and Massachusetts. With that in mind, your transportation infrastructure between the Quentinsburgh and Vandover areas could experience heavy demand. So, the density of these regions could compel you to develop high-speed commuter rail or converting the U4 to something resembling the New Jersey Turnpike with it's four carriageways (essentially a 12-lane freeway).

I think the issue of excessive highways in OGF are the 'roads to nowhere' where mappers plow motorways cross their territory with no evidence of demand for them. I personally try to build the city out THEN extend freeways to where the capacity would warrant one. If you plan on expanding your suburbs inland and away from the metro areas, having them grow around your existing freeways would be the most logical.

If you have smallish mountains, I think you should keep them. They would provide an engineering challenge and would add character to your cities.

Regarding your last question, I think you should also factor in the agricultural capabilities of your country. Does the climate of your country support commercial farming? If so, is there enough land to produce enough food to feed your population? Although importing food is not unreasonable, if Freedemia has to import most of it's food supply, the cost of food would likely be more expensive than locally grown. If the land in your country is unsuitable for farming, it could make it more difficult for Freedemia to have a large population (but not impossible, just look at Hong Kong and Singapore).

Hide this comment

Comment from Ernestpcosby on 15 November 2016 at 15:31

Hey, @wangi, thanks for the input. To address your points:

1) It kinda does in a way- The entire idea of Quentinsburgh was based around the size being closer to 4-5 million. Otherwise, the QUARTA system would have never been made as expansive as it is. Most of the Freedemian population is focused in that upper left pocket, and Freedemia was meant to be relatively highly populated. Now, future countries of mine, as well as central and far southwest Freedemia, will be less populated ( Henshawtown when completed will likely be less than 150,000 people and will be the largest city for over 120 miles in each direction, and I expect similar things from areas like Warnerstone in the far north and Kenworthsburgh/San Guijarros in the far south). I may even end up reducing the population of Graham City and Franklinsburgh further. But the area between the Nature Border and south Quentinsburgh is meant to be very highly populated.

Also, when I say things like reworking the metro system, I don't really mean adding more everywhere per say. However, there are some areas closer to the "end" of a route that may be realigned with a different area if new density and locations make it make more sense somewhere else, and there would be the potential for proposed extensions that haven't happened yet or couldn't get funding. The only other freeway that would really be "created" (technically just modified, see point 2 for what I mean about the U-3) would be the one loop to connect the newly created suburbs.

2) The U3 Toll would likely be moved inward and replaced by a more realistic toll outer loop. Currently the U3 serves practically no use, and even with density increased outward it would remain useless as is. My intention, as mentioned in the density map, was to move the Toll U-3 inward, so that it could serve as the toll trunk road that would likely be needed to connect a final ring of suburbs to each other, without having to add another. (I think it would honestly do far more good than the current routing of Toll U-3. I doubt there are a lot of people trying to bypass the entire northwest part of the country to go to the Autonomous Province of Nature.)

As for the roads being close part, Major roads are close together because of connectivity- even when not very car intensive (Freedemia is trying to shift away from cars to transit slowly), almost all tertiary roads and some residential roads are home to bike lanes and very important neighborhood bus routes. Also, like I had said before, some of the older parts of the city were designed not realizing that the scale was in kilometers and that 1km is only about 0.6 miles, so some areas are about twice as close together as I originally realized. (I may spend some time eliminating some freeway exits- one exit ~every 1/4 mile is pretty close together, even for a major urban city)

But even then, the locations of tertiary roads, etc was based off cities closer to where I was trying to go with density, such as Chicago, central DC, etc. Downtown Quentinsburgh with its close together grid, tertiary roads, etc is actually a lot closer to what I'm trying to get across the board (at least within the U-104) and what I found looking at comparable major cities that I was basing density off of.

3) I do plan on adding towns/cities along the radial routes, especially between Quentinsburgh and Personsboro. However, that would be more like the suburb towns outside of an already urban area. They wouldn't be part of the core metropolitan area of either city, and the populations of said towns probably wouldn't get much higher than 25,000. That's something I plan to do in addition to this plan. I kind of just thought it was a given so I didn't draw it on the map :P Now, I do think that the Laneston/Vandover area's suburbs should be more radial, as you've suggested. If you notice, in that blue area highlighted on the second map, it is home to several radial routes coming out of Laneston and Vandover. I plan to base that area's development around those radials. In the second map's case (other than around Fort Elwood and southern Vandover) I didn't have much to work with since I haven't progressed as far with the area, so the map was meant to be a rougher representation of a vaguer idea than that seen in the first map.

4) The barrier islands weren't really made to have density, nor to really even have much of a population- it's supposed to be swampy beachy marsh off the coast. Some of it is actually supposed to be protected land. I just couldn't find the tag for it. Now, I may add just a little bit of density, as now that you point it out I see a little bit of potential in some spots. But it will likely be more like a semi-urban beach town than an urban metropolis. Could be good for resorts and such, though.

5) I don't plan on completely getting rid of the Judeston hills, but even without this plan having a randomly placed halfhazardly drawn mountain range just outside the city with no real transition has been a bit of an eyesore. I'd probably leave some of the contours and work with landuse, to give the appearance of hills, but the actual mountains should probably be moved further out into the giant open space just to the east, where I would have more room to work with them and a better chance at a reasonable transition from city to suburb to country-ish to mountains. I'm thinking of a slightly larger range of large hills/small mountains to the east, as pictured below:


To address the burgh vs boro vs borough part, the reason a lot of the older and/or bigger cities are spelled 'burgh' is because Freedemia used to be an Ingerish colony (Ingerland being the home of the city of Winburgh). The others were meant to just be sort of an amalgamation as Freedemia grew, perhaps with some simply taking naming ideas from the international world without much thinking about coherency :P

Hide this comment

Comment from Ernestpcosby on 15 November 2016 at 15:38

@PColumbus73, thanks for the input. You've laid out a lot of good ideas for me to think about and work with.

You hit the nail on the head with the turnpike and high-speed rail. Those were a couple of the things I've had in mind for a while. I just haven't really known how to draw it on the map.

I think what you're saying makes sense for the suburbs. There are some areas that I plan to rework, especially with the Horizon Springs area down to Franklin Hill, where I can probably get started by expanding around my current highways.

I suppose to answer your question about food supply, Freedemia is supposed to be a world leader in hydroponic farming- a lot of our farming is actually done more greenhouse style in contrast to traditional or factory style. However, I do plan to have large areas, including most of North, Guijarros, and parts of Henshaw state being mostly farmland/rural areas.

Hide this comment

Comment from Thunderbird on 15 November 2016 at 16:38


First of all, I think very highly of your idea to rework your main metropolitan area. It takes a lot to be able to go back and redo an area (I still haven't redone my city center!) I've always looked to Freedemia as an example while mapping Jefferson.

In any area with 5 million people, there tends to be suburban sprawl for miles. I think extending your suburbs is a great idea. Also, I agree with Wangi's point about building along highway corridors. Suburbs tend to be higher density along major corridors rather than spaced evenly.

My advice would be, stick to your new plan with Phase I and Phase II, keeping in mind that areas with less access to major roads are likely to be more sparsely populated. I also don't think you'd need another motorway to fill in the suburbs. Like you said, maybe just move the U-3 west a few miles.

These are just my suggestions, you don't have to take them. Looking forward to seeing the area grow!


Hide this comment

Comment from PColumbus73 on 15 November 2016 at 18:07


I'm glad I could help! Looking at the Quentinsburgh, it's not hard for me to imagine the downtown core (west of the U4) having a density equivalent to Manhattan (maybe even Singapore) then mid-rise apartments between U4 and Christian Pkwy.

In regard to wider highways and high-speed rail; With highways, you could draw in two outer carriageways to the existing motorway and basically do an express-local set up.

High-speed rail is more of a challenge because it requires very gradual curves and grades (running a high-speed rail line through mountains would be massively expensive). Or you could do something like the Acela trains that can reach speeds of 80 MPH, give or take. They'd be able to run on existing tracks shared with freight and slower passenger trains (although it would be encouraged that they have dedicated tracks).

Also, browsing your region, Reedsboro would make a PERFECT bedroom community for Vandover and Quentinsburgh! Being roughly 50-60 miles from both cities with direct motorway access AND a rail line going straight into Quentinsburgh? Reedsboro would be ideal for people looking for cheaper housing and something away from the big city.

Hide this comment

Comment from Sarepava on 16 November 2016 at 00:15

Some more general points which you could address in this process:

1) Quentinsburgh exists in a slightly unconvincing limbo between being a grid city and a more organic road layout. The only practical reason for the meandering nature of some roads would be topography, but there isn't much shown. In addition, many grid roads are irregular. Setting out the city history would provide many pointers to the street plan.

1a) more fundamentally, why was Quentinsburgh founded in this location in the first place?. Was it a port, a harbour, a railhead, or something else?

2) Unionway 4 over the seaport isn't realistic - cranes can't operate with a flyover the docks. The U-104 interchange 3 is WAY too close to the start of the airport runway - flyovers would be a hazard and where are the runway lights supposed to go? A lot of motorways cut through parks, this is hardly found in the real world as there would be huge opposition. Why does U4 pass so far to the north of Personsboro when there are such an abundance of inner-city motorways in the country?

3) Most railway curves need softening, there are some very tight corners on the tracks.

4) What are the sources of the various rivers in the country? Why do some make turns away from the coast? What topography is responsible for Lake Grander and Trenchant Lake? Are there any river deltas on the coast?

None of these problems are insurmountable, but at present coupled with the scale issues, they detract from the realism.

Hide this comment

Comment from Sarepava on 16 November 2016 at 00:42

Also...I have to be honest, the whole country looks very much like a typical Potlach creation. Just using JOSM improves mapping, as you can check the scale of any way, create fine detail much more easily, copy and paste things, etc. If you're not using it already, it would solve a lot of your issues.

Hide this comment

Comment from Ernestpcosby on 16 November 2016 at 01:55

Quentinsburgh was originally supposed to be a landing point where the original Ingerish settlers created the first development in modern day Freedemia (not including Nature, which was the first landing, which at the time was part of the "Freedemian explorations".

As for the parks part, a lot of the parks were supposed to have been added later, after the motorways were built, as the country tried to expand greenspace. In the out-of-world mapping process, in many cases, the choice was between destroying half the area of the city for an motorway or putting it through an area like a park and attempting to make it appear like a special feature of the area; I chose the latter- opposition or no opposition, given a choice between have my entire neighborhood destroyed for a motorway and having it cut through a very large park with as much effort made to make it blend in, be safe, make minimum impact to quality of park, etc as possible, I would choose the park alignment. (I imagine freeways in embankments with fancy bridges and walkways crossing over in most cases, while a couple might be very aesthetically pleasing bridges that as much as possible blend in with other parts of the parks)

The main reason U-4 goes north of Personsboro is that U-4 supposedly came before Personsboro boomed (and was literaly mapped before Personsboro boomed). Personsboro developed around the other highways that happened to connect south of U-4.

Thanks for the tidbit about the harbor, I didn't know that.

The country was made using iD and Potlatch. I didn't have a personal computer until 2 months ago, and even then I downloaded JOSM but it still won't download any areas/allow me to map. I usually go back and fix small details using iD. Honestly, I don't want my stuff to look like a copy and pasted city. I wanted it to have a semi-organic grid- I feel like copying and pasting would make too much of an appearance of master planning which wouldn't have taken place to that extent.

Hide this comment

Comment from Thunderbird on 16 November 2016 at 03:37

@Ernestpcosby: I suggest possibly troubleshooting JOSM. There are instructions in the wiki. When I first joined, someone told me to get JOSM. It was the best advice I ever received.

Hide this comment

Comment from wangi on 16 November 2016 at 03:44

Lots of good advice!

Hide this comment

Comment from Ernestpcosby on 16 November 2016 at 04:15

@Thunderbird I've done everything that the wiki told me to do. I don't know why it still wont work.

Hide this comment

Comment from Ernestpcosby on 16 November 2016 at 04:20

@Thunderbird Never mind, I think i got JOSM to work. But I don't understand anything I'm looking at right now

Hide this comment

Comment from Leowezy on 16 November 2016 at 11:34

@Ernestpcosby Nothing unusual then ;) IMO JOSM has quite a steep learning curve, and it takes a while to get used to even its basic functions. But once you DID get used to it, it will be a blessing; I'm using JOSM since over a year, and I still discover new functions, plug-ins, and just ways to do what I want more time efficiently. So don't be discourages, just take your time and play around with the program for a while.

Hide this comment

Comment from Thunderbird on 16 November 2016 at 13:29

Awesome! And make sure you have your imagery for the background so you know what you're looking at

Hide this comment

Comment from Thunderbird on 16 November 2016 at 13:29

Awesome! And make sure you have your imagery for the background so you know what you're looking at

Hide this comment

Comment from Ernestpcosby on 16 November 2016 at 13:59

@Thunderbird thank you for that piece of advice! That helps a lot.

Hide this comment

Comment from dono87 on 16 November 2016 at 23:45

You may not need to make the built-up area very wide if you have a good geographic reason.

The Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach area is not very wide but stretches for 50+ miles along the coast for a 5-6 million person metro area.

So may be a guide for you, but they have swamps in their back yard.

Hide this comment

Comment from Ernestpcosby on 17 November 2016 at 07:49

@dono87 That's a good point. I'll have to think about that as I proceed. As of right now though I can't think of any good reasons for something like that in Freedemia.

Hide this comment

Comment from Portopolis on 17 November 2016 at 13:29

Also take in mind most US metropolitan areas aren't really dense at all. For example Lagos is probably the same size roughly as Raleigh proper. One has 400,000 people the other has 17,000,000+. Lagos of course is an extremely example because even the suburbs average 15,000 people per square mile or higher same with most Indian cities, point is even cities like Montpelier, France and smaller have higher densities than most American cities including all of NYC's metro area. So instead of comparing to an American city try comparing it to Dublin, or other coastal cities that are really dense.

Hide this comment

Comment from Ernestpcosby on 17 November 2016 at 15:45

@Portopolis Good point, actually. I just did a comparison with Copenhagen, and it does seem like if I went with a more European model like that I would just need to do Phase I and make it more dense and it would work fine. Thanks for the tip.

Hide this comment

Leave a comment

Parsed with Markdown

  • Headings

    # Heading
    ## Subheading

  • Unordered list

    * First item
    * Second item

  • Ordered list

    1. First item
    2. Second item

  • Link

  • Image

    ![Alt text](URL)

Login to leave a comment