When anyone mentions Branton this is the area they mostly think of, not the run down parts that make up most of the city. Here the police patrol most often, as it is the major gambling center. There are high rise hotels and casinos, and even the alleys are well lit to give a sense of protection from the grime of Branton. It is a not-so-secret that the various crime families are running out of this part of the city as well.
Situated in the extreme northern edges of the city sits ‘The Strip’. Perhaps the planners wished it were actually outside of the city, or maybe it was to catch unwary travelers before they saw the rest of Branton. Whichever it was, this is the gambling heartbeat of a city being built on such investments. Many of the buildings are in a state of disrepair, despite such lofty names as ‘The Grand Casino’, and ‘Golden Times’. Hotels have begun to be spruced up in the hopes of attracting more customers, offering space to those who can’t afford to stay at the casinos themselves.
The bureaucratic heart of Branton is Government Square, located between Uptown and the Upper West Side. City Hall and Branton Courthouse sit opposite each other, with Police and Fire Service HQ filling in the other sides. Recent building work has cleaned much of the grime off the buildings, but work is still ongoing and may take quite some time to complete.
If anything is emblematic of the hipster influence spreading from Midtown it is Mason’s Square. A large open square for live performers, with some independent shops all around, this is the creative hub of the city. It is around here that edgier clubs spring up, and lots of live music is played in the bars.
Branton Academy of Beauty and Trade
One of the most popular places to attend after finishing high school is the Branton Beauty and Trade School. Short and long courses are offered on everything from cosmetology to plumbing and how to wire a house. Students combine class learning with practical experience and supply the local economy with a cheap workforce for a small kickback.
Upper West Side
This is on the coast of Branton. The end that borders Uptown has nice summer homes, hotels, and a beach that is open twenty-four hours to host campfires and star gazing. Further inland is where the “middle class” of the city life. Small, two and three bedroom houses are crammed together on 1/4 acre lots with a sprinkling of small businesses throughout.
Tourists and locals alike usually find their way to Harlem Street and Branton Mall, which is the place where those with a little money shop, or those who wished they did spend credit they cannot really afford. A few independent boutiques line the road, offering more specialist or exclusive items than typically found in the mall.
Named after one of the mayors in the 1940’s, Diamond Pier was once a bustling boardwalk with a carnival atmosphere. Since then, all that remains are boarded up shop buildings, tourist trap tee shirt shops, a few rides, and a tall Ferris wheel that hasn’t run since the 1990’s.
With trees lining the roads and lights that work properly throughout the night, Kingston is an exclusive neighborhood. The houses have gardens, and roads are kept swept and clean, as well as having a few pleasant parks dotted about. Police patrol the area regularly, moving on loiterers and those they deem suspicious.
Just south of Diamond Pier sits a cluster of hotels, the places of choice for tourists visiting Branton. Having their own private portion of the beach, it is obvious that the city has spent a little more money on this area than most others. Taxies are a frequent sight, shuttling people to the hip bars of Midtown and shopping on Harlem street.
Cultural Quarter and Old Branton Fort
The grandly named ‘Branton Cultural Quarter’ is located in Heron Bay, a short hop across the water from Diamond Pier. The city museum is located here, along with an old and rundown theater. A few shops offer local delicacies like Tomato Pies and boiled lobster.
Upper East Side
This area is mostly underdeveloped with forests and ponds, and there are some recreational fields and hiking trails. The train station ensures there is plenty of traffic, as do the park and trailer park.
Branton Train Station
On the northeastern side of the city is the main train station. Split into two chunks, it serves as a rail hub for both travelers and goods being transported in and out of Branton. The whole place could do with a lick of paint, and the grime from years of neglect is taking time to be scrubbed away.
A glorified airstrip has grown recently as traffic increased in Branton. Renovations have just about brought the main building and tower up to regulations, but much more work is needed to make it an anyway decent experience. The airport is served by a single carrier, with three daily departures to Atlantic City Airport.
Whiting’s Trailer Park
A sprawling community of low-cost homes can be found on the eastern border of Branton. There aren’t many amenities on offer, but they are at least affordable to most people. Unsurprisingly crime is rampant, and some of the city’s homeless suggest they prefer living rough to spending nights at Whiting’s.
This is where the university and the “arts” district is. This area has undergone heavy gentrification. Lots of art gallery’s, venue halls, coffee and tea shops, craft breweries, art communes and studios are littered throughout along with low-income housing. You can walk around at night, but wouldn’t want to do it alone.
The independent craft breweries are relatively new to Branton, seemingly arriving with the hipsters, and are a symbol of the gentrification of what was once a deprived working-class suburb. Offering their wares in a courtyard just outside the brew houses, a little of the Midtown nightlife has bled over to this area, and it is now a popular spot to grab a bite and a beer before heading to a club.
Dubbed Van Gogh row, Gainsborough hosts art galleries to serve both the rich of Uptown and the hipsters of Midtown. This has led to street artists flocking to advertise their wares on the streets, setting up stands and offering passing tourists their portrait in fifteen minutes. The latter has become rather cynically known as ‘failed artists row’, a play on the more usual nickname for the area.
St Jude’s Hospital
One of the busiest roads in Branton is South street because that is where the hospital is situated. This is the place where most people go, though there is a clinic in Uptown for those who can afford luxuries like insurance. But it is St Jude’s where gunshot, stab, and needle wounds are treated. The staff work tirelessly around the clock in a city where crime is well above the national average.
A large market that sells produce and other necessities. Open 24/7, it has sections that reflect the diversity of the city’s denizens. The place is generally buzzing and a good spot for the middle-class to get hold of the less than legal items they want.
Lower West Side
The further away from uptown you get, the beach turns to a rocky shoreline that is littered with garbage and used syringes. There are some smaller beaches, but they are not tended to nor even have lifeguard stands.
The financial center of Branton is found on Franklin Street in the Upper West Side. Here you can find the headquarters for the local bank, branches for a couple of national banks and the offices of a few investment firms. There is little traffic around this area at night, and police quickly move on anyone spending too much time on the streets.
The lifeblood of the lower and middle classes for those that don’t partake in the tourist industry. Fishing and shipping vessels take off from here around the clock, and it is a busy hub for sea traffic in the area. The Docklands and adjacent roads help to keep it running, though being reminiscent of Victorian England, it isn’t a place you really want to visit at night.
West Side Beach
The main beach for the masses doesn’t have lifeguards, and only a recent clean-up in the area got rid of the refuse and needles liberally strewn along the coastline. This is still the case south of West Side Beach, but with the improvement came locals in search of a new place to enjoy a night out. The two most popular places are right on the beachfront: the B52s Bar and the Love Shack.
Phoenix Tech Hub
A once grand idea conceived by the former mayor of Branton sits like a partially occupied ghost town. The Phoenix Tech Hub was supposed to invigorate the local economy by drawing corporations in with the lure of no taxes. This worked for some companies who saw an opportunity to stay in business, but ultimately the idea proved unsustainable for most, merely delaying their inevitable bankruptcy.
Lower East Side
This is a busy, yet poorly serviced part of Branton. Roads often have potholes where there is surfacing at all, and it looks like the whole area has been declining for years. The park is here and connects lower and upper parts of the east side.
Branton Community College
Those wanting to get an academic education do so at the community college. The squat structure has seen better days and budget cuts have bitten hard, leading to a skeleton staff. Those educators that remain have been beaten down, though a few idealists glue everything together and allow the place to stumble on semester after semester.
East Side Park
A large and untamed expanse of woodland dotted with creeks and rivulets sits on the eastern edge of Branton. A favorite place for families on sunny days, it is an oasis in all the destitution and has a reputation for good fishing and hunting.
Branton Correctional Facility
Filled beyond capacity, the city prison has expanded over the last decade and houses a proportion of the population that far outstrips the national average. It is a forbidding looking building, surrounded by a barbed wire fence and incredibly watchful guards. Much like the trade school, the prison is a source of cheap labor.
This is the run down area where the middle to lower classes live. Here it’s dog eat dog and crime runs rampant. The houses and apartments are crammed into a tight space like chicken coops with little-to-no oversight for construction quality. Here street gangs battle for turf, and this is known as the proving ground for the crime families.
One of the benefits of a deprived city is workers so desperate for jobs that they’ll accept poor wages and depressing working conditions. This suits businesses wanting a presence on the coast at the lowest possible expense. Branton Industrial Estate fills the air with smog and fumes at all times of the night and day
Another abortive attempt to invigorate a local slum, this time in the late 1950’s, gave rise to Seven Points. Created to provide direct routes to what was hoped to be a thriving local market, the idea never took off, instead leading to gang warfare as struggles for power ensued. It is now best known for prostitution, with all of the buildings facing the heptagon serving such needs.
Just outside the notorious seven points is an even more dangerous place, the public housing area that has been dubbed ‘The Proving Ground’ by the mob. Police don’t patrol the trio of tower blocks, instead, the whole area is run by local toughs.
At the intersection of Southside, Midtown and Lower East Side are the main Church, Mosque, and Temples of Branton. Serving the faithful of this multicultural city, it is a place where many congregate throughout the week to give their devotions.