If you've ever watched any futuristic science fiction movies there seems to be a few common themes for the cities feaurted in the story. One of which is that the cities are in levels, a physical representation of the old-fashioned caste system.
The ground levels are naturally the oldest. Built first, they are the foundation of the city. Here you find your working class; the poor, the struggling, and the outcasts.
Moving vertical up through the city you find the blue collar workers, the middle class, the everyday common citizen. The chools, hospitals, and other community sevice buildings are also usually in yhese areas.
At the very top of the city, the highest levels, the tallest buildings you find the wealthy. These are the city leaders, both electorials and financial. These are the newest buildings with clean designs free of the rubble and crowding of the lower levels.
Ok, you say. We all know this, you think. So why take the time to explain it? Why? Because traveling through the very real modern-day Kansas City was like traveling through one of these science fiction cities. I noticed it first when we were heading West. The city newspaper building was a huge structure made of glass and polished steel, shiney and bright. The buildings around it were modern and clean. There was an arena with a conical shape much like the classic opera house of Syndey. All of these were built up on the highest level of the city, literally. There are highways over highways. Buildings on top of buildings. It is quiet liertally a city of class levels.
Traveling into the city heading back East this theme is even more apparent. At the lowest level is the river with all the original trade and commerce of cargo boats and trains. There are miles and miles of train yards easily 2-3 football fields wide. The buildings are old brick, dirty, in disrepair, and many abandoned or condemned. Approaching the city there is an stone wall built along the side of a hill separating the train yards from the newer working class businesses and homes. Many of these are still made of red brick but clearly younger and better maintained. Finally the roads split, the city continues to climb and you travel into the newest sections. The transition is marked and quick. The new stylized buildings stand in starke contrast to the older middle class structures below.
My eyes wide and my mind spinning while we traveled through the city, I couldn't help but see the similarities of real and fiction. Beyond all that I continue to be excited to have this opportunity to see all these amazing sites. Also, I am thankful for my parents who instilled in me the love of reading which has fed my love of science fiction, both books and film which helps me appreciate all that I see.