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"Waterside is where people are poor. That makes them beggars, thieves, and whores. Hillside is where people are rich. That makes them solicitors, politicians, and courtesans."
"For every city, however small, is, in fact, divided into two, one the city of the poor, the other of the rich; these are at war with one another."
Plato

Real-life cities are vast, diverse mishmashes of different cultures and social groups.

Obviously, the entirety of a city cannot always be adequately presented in a work, and often there is no point in doing so, due to The Law of Conservation of Detail. However, since some diversity is needed, the City of Adventure you happened to end up in will usually be split into districts by their prestige level. Most often, there are three of them:

  • The slum, inhabited by scum and poor people, and, in a Dystopia, it may be a ghetto for beings judged as "inferior" by whoever is in charge. Home to many a Gentleman Thief and Moses in the Bulrushes, among more malicious elements. The Bad Guy Bar can also be located here if the bad guys are of low enough social class.
  • The "normal" district, where different cultures meet. Often the center of trade activity in the area, as well as the place where you can learn the latest news and gossip. The people here are generally satisfied with their lives, or brainwashed into satisfaction in a dystopia.
  • The elite district, inhabited by the "cream of the crop", usually the aristocrats. The government, if one is featured, also resides here. The inhabitants may be shown as outright evil or simply not caring for the common folk. A Shining City, often featuring Crystal Spires and Togas.

Notice that this also happens in real life: when Guadalajara, Mexico was founded, the rich Spaniards built their estates in the west bank of the San Juan de Dios river, while they built the impoverished workers' dwellings on the east bank to make them defend the city from the frequent attacks of the eastern indigenous tribes, the city has since grown with Crystal Spires and Togas on one side and gritty inner city slums on the other, and the separation remained after the river was piped and paved over with the Independencia avenue. Detroit, USA, is also divided in rich North and poor South by 8 Mile Road, while many smaller western cities are divided in this way by the town's railroad tracks, justifying the phrase "born on the wrong side of the tracks."

While real life segregation is mostly horizontal, a common sci-fi setting is a city of skyscrapers with vertical Urban Segregation - usually the poor live at the bottom in smog and darkness, while the rich live in the upper levels with sunlight and fresh air.

Examples of Urban Segregation include:


Anime

  • In GetBackers, the limitless fortress(where most of the important stories take place) is separated into 3 levels: Lower town, which is basically a slum and is home to all the "normal" residents. People in this town often wear rags for clothes. The belt line, which is basically the "middle class" of the fortress, mostly houses supernatural monsters who exist only to terrorize residents of lower town. And finally there is Babylon City, the top level, home to the most power beings in the Getbackers universe. The top level is basically a palace.
  • In Mai-Otome, the segregation of Windbloom into three "layers" is evident (with the middle "layer" being little more than generic-looking urban sprawl); even though Garderobe and the royal castle are located in opposite parts of the city, they are both part of the "elite", both rising way above the cityscape, and interaction between their residents is usually direct.
  • Code Geass has the Settlements, shining modern cities inhabited by the Britannians, and the Ghettos, the bombed-out remains of the old cities where the Japanese are forced to live. One episode shows that (in Tokyo at least) the dividing line is the train tracks.
  • The Big O's Paradigm City is strictly divided between The Domes, with artificial sunlight and clean air, and "those living outside the domes", who don't even get the benefit of a concise name (at least not in English).
  • Gunnm: Technocrats living in a floating city (actually, it hangs from an orbiting satellite) and a slum around a trash heap on the surface. Construction of a flying vehicle is a death sentence.
    • Considering that the floating city has suicide booths (called "Endjoy") and has a ritual where all the residents, at age 19, have their brains removed and replaced with biochips, essentially killing them and replacing them with AI copies to create a more orderly society, the trash heap is arguably the better place.
  • Bleach: Aristocrats and shinigami live in the peaceful and elegant Seireitei ("Court of Pure Souls"), the commoners outside the Seireitei walls in the Rukongai ("Town of Wandering Spirits"). There are 80 numbered districts in the Rukongai, those with smaller numbers can be rather nice, but the ones at the end have hellish living conditions. And according to the setting, people who die in the real world get reincarnated in a random Rukongai district.
    • However, people with enough spiritual power can make their way into the Seireitei from any of the districts by joining the Shinigami. Rukia and Renji were ex Street Urchin types came from the 78th district, for instance, and Captain of the 11th division, Kenpachi Zaraki, is from the 80th.
      • If you become aware of it's existence before dying of hunger that is. Only people with spiritual power need food,, so right off the bat you're trapped in a world where the majority doesn't need and thus doesn't trade in food. If you're stuck in the ghetto's to boot...
    • Still doesn't change the fact that everyone from every nation who dies in the real world will be forced to live in a gunpowder age japanese district, and if you're unlucky a ghetto hellhole, and the shinigami do nothing to try and improve the state of the districts. the series starts turning sour real fast if you think too much about the afterlife and it's keepers.
  • Neo Verona is like this in Romeo x Juliet. The noble people live in the upper parts and the rest in the lower ones.
  • Domino City in Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's. On the quality side, Neo Domino City. About the same quality of life as Domino from the original Yu-Gi-Oh!, plus 25 years or so of technological advancement. On the bad side, Satellite, where the inhabitants recycle trash for a (meager) living and aren't allowed to leave.
  • They may be entirely on entirely different stellar bodies, but the lunar city of Mooneyes is treated much like the upper echelons of society in Basquash. In contrast, Rollingtown is almost a modern day Earth downtown. Except for the whole Bigfoot mecha thing.
  • The Manga and film version of Osamu Tezuka's Metropolis has a layered society, much like the Fritz Lang version below: the elites live in the top of the skyscrapers, middle classes on/near the ground, workers in the first underground layer, while only robots toil in the depths of the city.
  • In Gundam AGE, the rich and middle class inhabitants live in the interior of colonies, where they can enjoy simulated environments and live in well maintained cities. However, the colony's poor are often forced to live in the "underside" of the colony, which would be its outer rim.

Comic Books

  • In Sin City, the rich live in Sacred Oaks, the poor in The Projects. Somewhere in between is Old Town, the city's quasi-autonomous Red Light District.

Film

  • The Blind Side: Contrast the wealthy suburban community of the Tuohys and Wingate with the housing projects of Hurt Village.
  • In Fritz Lang's classic movie Metropolis, the poor live in squalor underground, while the rich live high up in towers.
  • In George A. Romero's Land of the Dead, the poor live in slums, while the rich live in Fiddler's Green, protected by a river and an electric fence. This doesn't stop the zombies in the end.
  • In Vexille, the remaining population of Japan lives in a shantytown, while the Mega Corp has it's own ultra-high-tech island.
  • New York in The Fifth Element is segregated vertically: as the protagonist drives further and further down the buildings get more and more decrepit, finishing with a very thick layer of smog.
  • Coruscant in Star Wars is also a vertically segregated city/planet: diplomatic quarters, the Senate, the Jedi Temple etc are all at the top, while the entertainment district and the industrial district are further down.
    • Star Wars in general loves this trope. Any city that evolves vertically is vertically separated. While Coruscant's lowest levels are home to the filth of society, Nar Shaddaa, which is a slum in its best areas, has its lowest levels infested with all sorts of mutants and dangerous beasts.
  • This trope was actually brought up in the film Candyman.
  • The silent movie The Golem, set mostly in the Jewish ghetto of Prague, treats the issue as a quite obvious Subtext. A massive gate separates the Jewish quarter from the Christian town and seems to be always closed, and anyone passing in or out of the ghetto is a cumbersome procedure each time.

Literature

  • The Ur-example of vertical segregation occurs in H.G. Wells' The Time Machine. The Time Traveler arrives at such a distant point in the future that divergent evolution has transformed the human race into Morlocks and Eloi, and hypothesizes this is the end result of a society where the working-class was moved underground and the middle- and upper-classes remained above ground. He then says (approximately) "Like most neat, simple theories, it was wrong."
  • David Wingrove's Chung Kuo is an extreme example: the entire Earth is covered in a 50-story megastructure, with the elite living up top, a wretched hive of scum and villainy on the bottom, and beneath even that, the poor schlubs who actually live on the ground in utter barbarity.
  • David Weber has it in droves in Honor Harrington series, especially when League or Haven is concerned. Nouveau Paris, Haven's capital, has explicitly separated slums in the form of decrepit kilometer-high habitation towers built during happier times, where only proles now live. Chicago, the capital of the Solarian League, is even more spectacular in this regard, as it's now more that two thousand years old and is a survivor of many wars and revolutions. It even has a stone-age-like troglodytes living on the lowest levels.
  • Terry Pratchett's Discworld has got the famous city Ankh-Morpork. It is divided by the river Ankh into the sections Ankh (where the rich live) and bigger Morpork (where the less well-off live). On the Ankh itself, there lies an island with the Opera House, the Dysk Theatre, a major publishing house, and the main Watch House.
    • There's also the Shades, a Wretched Hive with a dash of Red Light District thrown in, which seems to be pretty well delineated. Earlier books stated that it predates the rest of the city (except possibly the Tower of Art) by so much that the street plan follows stone-age goat paths.
  • Patrick Rothfuss does this with the port city of Tarbean in The Name of the Wind, which is divided into Waterside (poor) and Hillside (rich). The rich side keeps the beggars out by brutally oppressing the ones who dare show their face in Hillside.
  • H. M. Hoover's This Time of Darkness separates the unschooled laborers from the clueless elites by putting the elites at the top of the city and the laborers at the bottom (the city is much like a giant, windowless skyscraper albeit most of it underground). There's a third group, simple farmer types, who live outside the city in relative peace and prosperity. Oh, and the city gets rid of undesirables downstairs by refusing them jobs and pretty much making them hobos, and gets rid of them upstairs by shoving them outside the city and leaving them to fend for themselves, so over the years they turn feral and become examples used to scare the others into unquestioning obedience.
    • The whole setup screams Aesop about not forgetting history: The laborers get taught only how to obey rules and do jobs (the few who can read are regarded as troublemakers), and believe in Level 80 as a sort of fairy tale ("be good and someday you might get to go there"), the elites have forgotten that there are even laborers living beneath them (they think it's all machinery), and those outside the city don't know about anything within the city, and once they find out, realize there's nothing they can do to fix things. The only people who know what's truly going on are the few who making up the ruling class and law enforcers, and even they seem to have a communication problem.
  • The Expanded Universe novels for Star Wars brought to light that Corsucant was a planet-sized example of this trope. The topmost layers were where the rich and powerful dwelled while the rotting layers of city beneath were filled with criminals, vagrants and mutated creatures where no 'civilized' person would dream of going.
  • Bored of the Rings parodies this by making the Minas Tirith knockoff have nine city levels, each with better life quality than the previous ones. The people of the higher levels keep throwing their garbage to the lower ones, and on the lowest level people are so poor they have to eat it to survive.
    • So it's basically a giant wormery?
  • In the unnamed city in Swordspoint, the nobility lives on the Hill while the poor and the criminals live in Riverside.
  • In Havemercy, Thremedon is divided into three districts of different levels of prosperity.
  • Axiom Nexus in the Transformers Trans Tech universe is arranged into Zones, each of which is further subdivided into levels. They range from the upper zones which are upper-class and usually reserved exclusively for the native TransTech denizens, down to The Heap, a lawless trash-filled place described in the visitors' info pamphlet as a place to "Stay out [of] unless you really want to die."
  • In The Chosen we are shown the Hassidic district of New Yorkand the less conservative district. The various gentile districts never is shown as the focus is on Jews. There seems little difference in wealth; everybody is a reasonably prosperous middle class.

Live Action TV

  • In the Doctor Who episode "Gridlock", it is revealed that the poor people of New New York live in underground slums, while the rich live above ground. Or they would, if the latter weren't all dead.
  • The title station in Babylon 5 is mostly a very clean place with lots of shiny metal architecture. Then there's Down Below, a grimy crime-ridden section filled with petty criminals, gangsters, and the just plain luckless who got stranded on the station when their money ran out.

Real Life

  • Needless to say, this happens in real life. Virtually every city big enough to have seperate neighborhoods will have posh residential districts and places to avoid after nightfall.
  • Tel-Aviv, Israel used to (and in many ways still does) fit this trope. There are rich neighbourhoods (some of the richest in the country) and expensive residential towers in the north, industry and slums in the south (now housing a very large illegal immigrant community), and a cosmopolitan commercial center.
  • The Northsides of Cork and Dublin are poor, their southsides posh.
  • Not within a city but a metro area: Detroit's northern limit is Eight Mile Road. Things get much, much nicer about a mile north of that.
  • There are exceptions, but property values in Omaha, Nebraska take a sharp jump once you cross 72nd Street.
  • This is a general rule for Chicago as well - north of the Loop is generally rich, south of the Loop is generally poor. There's a racial aspect as well: if you ride a Red Line train from one end to the other (it runs north-south roughly near Lake Michigan), you will see the racial composition of the train's passengers go from mostly white to mostly black or vice versa.
  • This is also how most medieval European towns (especially those founded according do German law) were organized. City center housed Town Hall, townhouses of rich burghers and town square that was equivalent with City of Adventure "Merchant District". Artisans lived nearby and poorer inhabitants lived on the periphery, usually close to the city walls. Also clergy lived in separate part of the city, usually close to church or cathedral. Additionally, in cities with several lines of walls the richer the people the closer to the innermost city they lived as peripheral "rings" were more likely to be overrun and demolished in the case of war.
  • Phoenix, Arizona and its surrounding metropolitan area has the richer denizens living in the north and eastern parts of town, while the less-well-off tend to live in the south and western parts of the valley. There are of course some exceptions, but everyone generally can agree that south phoenix is the poorest area.
  • Many if not all "Gated Comunities" count.
    • This may be a misperception at least for all but the most upper class and exclusive communities. Generally, while such things as crime decrease when a community is first opened, over time, the community statistics will normalize to the surrounding due to things like the pizza guy needed the gate code (which in turn allows less savory types to get the gate code). Thus, ironically, eventually people believe their community is in fact much better than it actually is.
      • Also gated communities have fewer bystanders hanging around, reducing the chance of samaritanism and helpful witnesses. The security measures are also unfortunately effective at delaying the response time of police, firemen, and paramedics.
  • In the city of Atlanta, northern Atlanta and the Buckhead area tends to be more well of than south Atlanta (or the "swats"). In the metro Atlanta area it is pretty much common knowledge that the northern counties(North Fulton, North Dekalb, Cobb, Cherokee, etc.) are generally richer and usually has more white people than the southern areas (e.g. South Dekalb, Clayton). Knowing this, when a majority white northern part of Atlanta split off into the city of Sandy Springs in 2005 (and is even considering splitting off from Fulton County itself), this has caused many black leaders to accuse them of racism to sue the city and demand that the town be dissolved.
  • If you take the 4, 5 or 6 train in the New York City Subway uptown, you'll cross a border from some of the richest neighborhoods in the country - the Upper West Side - to some of the poorest urban neighborhoods in the country - East Harlem and the South Bronx. The division is stark enough that you can witness the demographic shift at the 86th street stop.
    • Interestingly enough, if you keep riding north in the Bronx, the neighborhood will actually improve as you get into Riverdale and closer to Westchester County.
  • Contrast the districts of Makati and Pandacan in Manila.
  • Rio De Janiero's famous skyline has favela's, which are quite poor and often full of drug-related crime, contrasting sharply to luxury suberbs.
  • In Istanbul during the days of the Ottoman Empire much of the city was like this. Part of the reason was the Millet system in which different ethnic and religious groups had neighborhoods set aside for them with leaders that answered to The Government. In some ways this was pre-Ottoman. During the conquest in 1453 some neighborhoods were able to avoid Rape, Pillage and Burn by forting up and then making a separate peace; just forcing the invaders to stop and take a breath before continuing the sack was sometimes enough to save a neighborhood.

Tabletop Games

  • Hive cities in Warhammer 40000 put a literal spin on the concept of a pyramid hierarchy; the wealthy, distinguished elite of society live closest to the top, with the living standard going down as you move down the hive. At the very bottom is the Underhive, populated by tribes of scavengers who live off the garbage dumped from the upper levels and generally have little contact with the rest of the society. Below that live mutants and monsters, and below that even worse mutants and monsters, and so on. Therefore, the underhive is usually considered a practical and efficient barrier between the elite and danger.
    • Although the traditional structure, this is not always the case. In one of the Hives from the Dark Heresy background, the rich all live in the middle and particularly at the bottom, whilst the 'underhive' is actually the surface area of the Hive. This is because the Hive is located in the middle of a desert in the baking sun and as such shade, coolness and air conditioning is considered a premium.
    • It gets even more complicated in Petropolis, a subsector capital where much of Dan Abnett's Ravenor series takes place. Wealthy and powerful there live in the center, as Eustis Majoris, the planet is sits on, is so polluted that acid rain is a significant threat on the upper levels, and underhive is a usual wretched den of gangs and criminals, as in most imperial hive cities.
    • In Sandy Mitchell's Scourge the Heretic, Icenholm is not a hive city -- but it has the same effect, being a city suspended over a (deep) mine, with status rising as you rose.
  • In the Dungeons and Dragons campaign setting Eberron, Sharn, the city of Towers, is divided in multiple wards and levels. Like the 40k hives, the lower you are, the poorer you are. In decreasing level of prestige, the levels are: Skyway, High City, Middle City, Lower City & the Cogs. In fact, Sharn takes things a step further than usual. The High City is the tops of the towers, but it's only for the independently wealthy. If you're obscenely wealthy, your entire Skyway estate floats above the entire city.

    More in depths, districts begin mixing it up. The high/middle/lower divisions are divided into five quarters based on their horizontal position. Upper Dura is in fact less prestigious than Lower Northedge, while Lower Dura is practically the Cogs. Lower Tavik's is a mix of slums and the usual trappings of rail stations, while Upper Tavik's is on par with Skyway in terms of prestige and bests them when it comes to keeping out the riffraff. (Well, they best them because the district has it's own private security. Skyway simply keeps the riffraff out because its flying and the riffraff is generally not expected to be able to afford the transportation to go there.)
  • Some sourcebooks for Vampire: The Masquerade point out that if player characters are part of the Camarilla, they should actively encourage this state of affairs as a part of their need for blood. Rich people, the reasoning goes, are bored and decadent and prone to do mind-numbing things in strange places with strange people, while poor people are isolated, powerless, and ignored by authorities. Both make them good prey for vampires bent on enforcing the title Masquerade. When cities are full of content middle-class professionals who go home to the suburbs before sundown, vampires go hungry.
  • In Magic: The Gathering's Ravnica block, Ravnica is implied to have urban segregation like this. Again, the rich and the prestigious guilds (Selenya, Izzet, Azorius) live on top, while the poor and the guilds more associated with manual labour (Golgari, Rakdos, Boros and Dimir if it existed, which it does not) live closer to street level.
  • In GURPS Traveller Starports a typical starport city will have the port district ruled directly by the Imperium, the rest of the city ruled by the natives, and the Startown on the border of jurisdictions where law enforcement is tangled up and the less seemly members of the population live.

Video Games

  • Diablo II: Lower Kurast, Kurast Bazaar, and Upper Kurast.
    • Of course, all three of these areas are inhabited by murderous demon-possessed fanatics. There isn't a lot to distinguish Lower Kurast from Upper Kurast.
  • Knights of the Old Republic: the three layers of the city-planet of Taris--the Upper City, the Lower City, and the Undercity. The farther down you go, the worse it gets.
    • And the upper layer got obliterated when Malak order its destruction, with lower levels mostly surviving. Sometimes it's good to be poor.
      • Except the people at the bottom had all the rubble fall on them. So, it kind of sucks either way.
      • Plus, the upper levels were mostly human supremacists and the lowest levels were filled with disease, lack of sunlight, very few supplies and giant monsters as well as being used as bases for some of the meanest and dirtiest gangs. Sometimes the Sith do good works.
  • Final Fantasy VI has Jidoor, which is segregated between the middle class to the south and the rich to the north, the poor residents of the city banished to the Wretched Hive city of Zozo.
  • One of the most famous examples: Final Fantasy VII actually sported three.
    • The giant city of Midgar, which is divided into "above the plate" (rich) and "below the plate" (absolute slums). Since the city was built outwards and upwards in a circular tier shape, sunlight often didn't reach the bottom bits.
    • Junon, with paved streets and nice houses on either side of the cannon, slowly smothering the small fishing village it was built over to death.
    • The Gold Saucer, though technically not a town, follows the same pattern. There's a glitzy casino/amusement park on top - again, elevated off the ground - with a shantytown (the remains of a certain character's Doomed Hometown) filled with debtors and criminals at its base.
  • Final Fantasy IX has Lindblum where there are different districts, some of which are blatantly poorer than others. There's no tension because of this though as Lindblum is a giant sprawling industrial city with jobs for everyone.
    • Treno, reverses the usual trend as a city divided into the rich section by the low-ground (along the water) and the poor, crime-ridden section built up the hill.
  • Final Fantasy XII does this twice, with Rabanastre and Archades.
  • Valua in Skies of Arcadia. Like Midgar, it lacks middle ground, though arguably the rich are the middle class and the palace, on a separate landmass, is where the most elite are.
    • If you could call it "middle" class. One of the residents of the upper city complains of an empty feeling in her life, which she immediately decides to fill by installing a solid silver bathtub next to her solid gold shitter. Meanwhile, in the lower city, you can meet a little girl whose fondest wish is to try the soft white bread residents of the upper city eat, because in the lower city they only have black bread that's so hard, eating a meal means running the risk of losing a tooth.
  • Summoner had Lenele, featuring the Crown District, the rest of the city, and the Old City (along with the ubiquitous sewers).
  • In Beneath a Steel Sky, the poor are forced to live high up in steel towers, where there is a great deal of pollution, while the rich live in hermetically-sealed safety on the ground.
  • In Neverwinter Nights 2, the city of Neverwinter is divided into exactly, you guessed it, three areas. The Docks, home to the petty criminals and organised crime; the merchant district, with a lot of shopkeepers and such; and the Blacklake district, location of the seat of government, the archives, the academy and the vast majority of the nobility.
    • The first Neverwinter Nights had the Beggars' Nest (what it sounds like) and Peninsula (prison) districts also.
      • In the first game the academy was actually in the Beggers' Nest. And despite being dominated by a prison, the Peninsula district was middle-class.
  • The city of Rogueport in Paper Mario: the Thousand-Year Door may seem like one big slum, but there is a hierarchy: Robbo territory in east Rogueport qualifies as the slums of the slums, and you either have to pay Gus 10 coins every time you want to pass, or beat him in a fight. The west side, however, is as elite as Rogueport gets. It's run by the Piantas, who in this city are a mafia-esque organization who run a casino and who actually help you twice over the course of the plot.
    • That's right. Mario worked for the mafia.
    • Then you have the Absurdly Spacious Sewers, which are home to madmen and people who need to stay even farther off the radar than the people living topside.
  • Illusion of Gaia has the town of Freejia, with a very well-kept neighborhood on the side facing the main entrance... and a back-alley slum with slave laborers on the other side.
  • In Baldur's Gate, the title city is divided into six sections (which can get annoying to navigate due to the city having double walls), based more on geography than anything else - the districts flow into each other, rather can being completely self-contained. The sequel, 'Shadows Of Amn decided to make ease of navigation more important than complete versimilitude, and divided up Amn's capital of Athkatla into a Government District, the Slums, the Temple District, the Graveyard, the Docks, the Gate, and Waukeen's Promenade (market district), none of which have geographical landmarks in common with each other. (There's also the sewers under the Slums, and another set under the Temple. The Government district should probably have one too, being full of rich people who can afford plumbing.)
  • Bowerstone in Fable is divided into three sections, a rich, a poor and a docks section.
    • In the sequel, Bowerstone has a pretty average area which is either the lower or upper class based on your earlier actions. Old Town can be an up market area with expensive, but well stocked shops or the most wretched hive of scum and villainy this side of the Wraithmarsh.
    • In Fable III, Bowerstone Industrial is a slum, Bowerstone Old Town is a middle-class neighborhood, and Bowerstone Market is an upscale neighborhood. However, all the really rich people apparently live in nearby Millfields.
  • Each of the three cities in Assassin's Creed, Jerusalem, Acre and Damascus, are split into Rich, Poor and Middle districts.
  • Pops up in all three Deus Ex games:
    • In the first game, The poorer parts of New York have been literally walled off from the rest of the city to cork up the high crime and rioting taking place.
    • In Deus Ex Invisible War Futuristic Seattle is split into Upper Seattle and Lower Seattle, connecting by the Inclinator, a large transport elevator. Upper Seattle residents are rich and live in luxury, and they had robotic servants. The residents of Lower Seattle live in slums and have to worry about wild mutants and cyborgs. They seemed to have made the best of the mutant problem though, they use them for something similar to a cockfight.
      • In Cairo the WTO-controlled Arcology is prosperous while the outer Medina is infested with a nano-machine plague. You require a passport to get from the outer area to the upper area.
    • Heng Sha in Deus Ex Human Revolution is divided between upper and lower cities as well. In contrast to the other examples, Lower Heng Sha is clearly not the worst place, having an impressive skyline of its own and home to the city's entertainment districts. It actually comes off as more vibrant than Upper Heng Sha which hosts universities, research centres and corporate headquarters. That said, the impeccabily modern and shiny upper city is so expensive that many of society's less fortunate end up in the lower city anyway.
  • Pacific City in Crackdown is divided into three regions: the western part of the city is residential and "normal," the southeastern part is an industrial hell, and to the northeast is the clean and futuristic (but still corrupt) region.
  • Project Eden has conditions degrade drastically as soon as you leave the top parts of the city
  • Suikoden II has Two River City, a city split into three sections by two rivers. One section contains only Humans, another only Wingers, and the third only Kobold. The Wingers seem to be the slum section, while the Human the elite. As to where the Kobold fit in, this troper is not quite sure.
  • Tales of Symphonia has Meltokio, Tethe'alla's crown city. For the most part, the city is as upscale as it gets, with the castle, church, and aristocracy on the upper level. One corner of the lower level of the city is home to the slums, which are populated by the poor, the sick, and the just plain unlucky.
    • The first town in Tales of Vesperia also has this in place, being explicitly divided into the modest "Lower Quarter", and the thriving "Upper Quarter". This is emphasized in the story where the lower quarter's sole blastia malfunctions. This is trivial, when one sees that the Upper Quarter is chock full of blastia.
  • Romancing SaGa has Estamir, a city straddling a river. North Estamir borders the lush kingdom of Rosalia, and is a wealthy port town, boasting a massive temple dedicated to the goddess of love, Amut, a vast selection of high-scale shops, and a very comfortable aristocracy. South Estamir, meanwhile, is a slum ruled by slavers, where thugs and beggars alike chase after anyone they think has money.
  • Runescape has Varrock; north Varrock is populated by the wealthy, while its southern half is run-down.
    • There's also Ardougne; The eastern part of Ardougne is wealthy, while the western part is full of the poor and the so-called plague victims.
    • Keldagrim, on the west of the Kelda River is rich dwarves and the Black Guard's fortress, the east side is mostly an industrial section.
    • There's also Meiyerditch and Darkmeyer. Meiyerditch is practically a blood farm but Darkmeyer itself is divided into 3 zones based on wealth of the inhabitants.
  • The dwarven city of Orzammar in Dragon Age is segregated into the Diamond Quarter (where the Noble Caste lives), the Commons (where the Merchant Caste does their business), the Proving Grounds (where the Warrior Caste spends their time), and Dust Town (the only place in the city where casteless can live). Given the dwarven caste system, Kal Sharok is likely divided the same way.
  • Bully has the town of Bullworth, which has the rich suburb Old Bullworth Vale and the downtown political and commercial district Bullworth Town separated from the inner city ghetto New Coventry and the rough blue collar industrial neighborhood Blue Skies Industrial Park by a railway bridge.
  • Shin Megami Tensei II: The Center, for the important religious people, and the Valhalla.
  • Fallout 2's Vault City is divided between the Citizens who have access to high tech services and a good quality life and the Denizens who live in the slums outside the city proper and can only get in by passing a ridiculously hard citizen test (which most Citizens would not be able to pass either) or becoming "servants", i.e. slaves (but the Citizens get really annoyed if you call them that).
    • Most other places in the Fallout verse have no problems like this though, one of the few improvements they have over modern society. But then again they live in a post apocalyptic kill or be killed slaver and monster infested hellhole.
  • In TES: Morrowind, The cantons of Vivec have a bit of this going on. The lower you are in one of the cantons the worse off people are, until you get to the sewers which tend to be filled with vermin. And rats.
    • Most of the major cities had a subtle amount of segregation. Note Balmora with "Poor Town", "Commercial Row" and "Temple (or High) Hill", or Ald'Rhun with "Under Skar".
    • The Elder Scrolls V Skyrim features this in several of the major cities. Markarth is mostly a city of gray-white stone built into an old dwarven ruin, where the middle class lives on the ground level, the nobility in the upper levels of the cliffs around the main keep, and the poor underclass lives in tunnels referred to as the "Warrens." Windhelm, capital of the Stormcloak rebels, is more conventional, with the west side of the city featuring large mansions and the east side of the city being a slum with narrow alleys. The former is home to the native Nord nobility, while the latter is home to the poorer Dunmer immigrants. (Argonians who work the docks aren't even allowed in the city in the first place). A more benevolent version is the central city of Whiterun, built around a large hill, where the business/lower class "Plains" district is located at the bottom of the hill, the residential "Wind" district is partway up the hill, and the Jarl's keep is located in the "Cloud" district at the top of the hill.
  • The Witcher video game. The city of Vizima is made up of the the not-visited-in-this-game but presumably elite Royal Quarter, the rich Trade Quarter, the poor Temple Quarter, and the plague infested nonhuman ghetto of Old Vizima. Each district is separated by some very solid looking walls.
  • Vandal Hearts has an interesting version early on. In the capital city the former aristocrats who supported the reign of the Holy Asha Dynasty now live in the "blue blood ghetto" downtown. In the upper echelons of the new democracy are former members of the Liberation Army, comprised mainly of peasants. Hel Spites, the defense minister, seems to be a remnant of the old kingdom tohugh, as do his elite Blood Knights.

Web Comics

  • The Continentals: In the steampunk murder, mystery, scifi adventure webcomic "The Continentals", the city of Mansfordshire is figuratively and literally divided into two halves-The high society Westend known as "The Heights" and the lower class Eastend known as "The Narrows"-by a series of interlocking back alleyways known as "The Divide". Find it here.

Western Animation

  • The Earth Kingdom capital Ba Sing Se (The Impenetrable City) in Avatar: The Last Airbender, in which the three districts are divided by big huge walls. The outer ring is home to the refugees from the war, menial laborers and other poorer inhabitants; it is described by Joo Dee as "quaint" and "lively," but she also warns visitors to watch where they walk. The middle ring is home to the middle class; government functionaries, business owners and artisans. The inner ring is where the Earth King himself lives and is home to the wealthy aristocracy of the city, including the Avatar when he and his team travaled to the city in order to meet with the Earth King.
  • Exaggerated ridiculously in The Fairly Odd Parents - Chester and AJ literally live across the railroad tracks from each other. However, Chester's side is a rundown trailer park, and AJ's side is a wealthy suburb where everyone lives in a huge house.
  • Hill Valley in The Oblongs is divided between "the Hills" (upper-class) and "the valley" (horrible polution). One line implied that the people from the valley can't afford to live anywhere else because they spend all of their money on treating the illness they get from living there, which makes sense as anybody born there suffers from at least one birth defect. The titular family has a man from the Valley (who has no arms or legs) married to a Hill girl, she moved into the valley and lost all her hair, though she wears a wig most of the time.
  • The city of Springfield from The Simpsons underwent that when the city adopted new area codes. 939 was the poor area while 636 was the rich area and a wall was built between the two areas.
    • Which was more like the inner german wall in Berlin making 939 the East and 636 the West.
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