The Pikesburg Chronicles
Located in Illinois on the Mississippi, the city’s interesting geography and architecture is driven by it’s unique history. There are two centers of the city – the current, ultramodern downtown with its high rises, trendy night clubs, modern art galleries, and the like and the old city with its decaying gothic architecture from a bygone era.
Hedera University was founded for the children of the wealthy industry barons. As Pikesburg grew, so too did the university. It is the equal of any Ivy League school in the nation. While the school can be expensive, to encourage growth in the city, it offers tuition assistance for Pikesburg residents.
This area houses the elite of Pikesburg. Built a short way out of the city, the hill has only multi-million dollar houses. While the police do not have a particularly strong presence here, the most residents have personal security personnel.
Church of St. Raymond Nonnatus
The oldest building in Pikesburg is a giant Catholic cathedral that dates back to the days of being a simple missionary outpost. In 1958, this location was declared to be Historic Location and is now protected by law. However in recent years, the attendance at the church as dropped off, making maintaining the church more difficult.
Of particular note is the graveyard attached to the cathedral’s grounds. Often called the Lichyard, this graveyard is still in use to this day. For the first half century of the towns founding, it was the only graveyard in the area, and all dead were interred there. Not to be missed, trees ring the outside of the grounds, making the casual passerby think that it is just a park or green area near the center of town, not the largest and oldest graveyard in town.
There might have been more to the name at some point, but that was many years, many bands, a couple of fires, and at least one riot ago. These days, all the sign says, and all anyone calls it, is the “Roadhouse”. Located on I-43 just outside of Pikesburg, The Roadhouse is a home for the city’s more “rambunctious” entertainments. It’s spent time as a variety of things, including a country-western honky-tonk, a metal rock venue, and now, something of an industrial/punk bar. The local biker gangs find it a convenient place to do business with their inner city counterparts, while there are more than a few patrons sporting the blue and black of the Hedera Hydras. Due to this wide-ranging clientele (and their unfortunate history of setting fire to the building after particularly good or bad shows), the Roadhouse’s current owners have a assembled a cadre of fairly rough-and-tumble individuals to provide security, or at least keep down any blatant felonies.
Anthony Calhoun State Prison / Pikesburg Correctional Facility
This is state jail facility that is located in the outskirts of town. A jail of some form or the other has been on the site since the early 1800’s, though many incarnations have come and gone. Also known as “Old Stoneback”, a name it got from it’s more brutal days.
The current facility was built in the seventies over the site of a previous jail, which was burnt to the ground during a massive prisoner riot. However, remnants of the old jail remain, as the state never raised the funds to clear the structure.
Currently the prison is filled passed its intended capacity. The denizens include various gang members and those in crime families who annoyed the head in some way. Two previous mayors are also ‘guests’ at this fine facility. Currently the prisoners are used for cheap labor, though it has been rumored that the warden will kindly turn down offers for the right incentives.
Inter-prisoner violence is common, especially among members of rival gangs, though the guards are quick to intervene with impunity when the prisoners direct their anger towards the guards or anyone under their protection.
Roivas History Museum
Founded in 1925 by Edward Roivas, a prominent archeologist at Hedera, this museum started as a public display for his work and that of his colleagues. It focused on his work in Central America, but had little else to offer for its first 30 years. In the 1950’s, renewed interest prompted them to add a natural history wing complete with dinosaur bones and mock ups of prehistoric animals and cave men.
In the 80’s major expansion was planned, renovating the whole building and adding a wing so the history section could be broken up into world and local history. A local politician pioneered the effort and got the old history wing renovated and turned into the local history wing. Amidst these efforts, the political enemies of the politician managed to discredit him through scandal that spilled over to the museum its self. The renovations were stopped immediately.
If entered now, you can still see “Under Construction” signs from the 80’s hanging up in the natural history wing. The third wing, which was to cover world history, was structurally complete and rumored to even have complete displays finished and collecting dust, but it has never been opened to the public. Also, there was a large influx of objects that were shipped there to be put on display that now molder in the warehouse behind the museum.
Now the museum is just visited by bored school children and retirees (they get in free on Wednesday). It is run down and is minimally staffed, though recent gossip speaks of plans to make it the next big public works project.
The museum has always had a strong connection with Hedra.
Not so much a location, as a feature of Pikesburg, the underground subway crisscross under the city. The city orginally planned to build one of the first working subway systems in the world in the early 1900’s. However, funding dried up during the First World War and the partially completed tunnels were simply barred up and left alone.
Needless to say, they have not gone unused in the intervening years. They were used during the height of Prohibition as an underground highway. Since then, new unsavory characters have set up shop in the bowels of the city. There is rumor of “underground” clubs that have set up shop in these tunnels as well.
Uncle Kim’s Noodle Emporium
This is really just moving cart run by “Uncle” Kim, an elderly Korean man who makes Japanese noodles because he says they sell better. The food is mediocre at best but, that isn’t the reason everyone knows it. Uncle Kim is the beating heart of the gossip in Pikesburg. Uncle Kim takes his noodles all over town and he talks to everyone. Each day he goes some place different and passes along everything he heard to the folks there. Office gossips plan their weeks based on where Uncle Kim is each day. These days, he usually has to have one of his grandchildren help him manage the stand, but if your looking to hear the latest gossip, there is no better place having than a bowl of noodles with a side of endless rumor.
The city’s slums are growing a little more every day as one by one houses from the better neighborhoods get foreclosed on. The old industrial district on the river front is filled rotting factories and abandoned shipping centers. Gangs rule this area. Only the extremely brave (or stupid) venture into this area. There is a relatively large nature park that was donated to the city by wealthy philanthropist to give the working class someplace where they could escape the tenements. Unfortunately, those old tenements are an extension of the industrial district, so the park rarely sees use now days. Recently, there has been a push from the hipster movement to reclaim a part of the old city. Coffee and tea shops, loft apartments, used book stores, vintage curio shops, and indie art galleries line this street.
The Second Circle
This is the gothic-punk underground nightclub is owned by a man simply known as Dante. What was previously built as a subway station, this defunct haven of sorts was taken over to make this club. The entrance is in an abandoned warehouse. A bouncer guards a spiral staircase that winds down and meets the remnants of the sealed-off subway stair entrance. It has a main dance floor where the main tracks would have been, a balcony over-hang that would have been connected to a second subway line, private areas roped off, and other standard things a nightclub would need. Wires obviously run through the place to the various speakers and electronics. Metal fencing keeps the goers from exploring deeper into the subway tunnels.