The Arcade is a long narrow entertainment district. It has three levels, the lower level which was the old creek bed (which now has the stairways leading down to it in a number of places) and the upper street level where the two boardwalk/ trails paralell to the old creekbed are filled with stalls and the occasional storefront/ theater. Sometimes there are tarps roofing over the second level in places. In places there is a third level, were a raised sidewalk and bridgewalks connect stalls and businesses on the upper levels to each other. It is a narrow pace, filled with a riot of people, color, smoke, and entertainment.
(Note there are no open fires allowed here. The locals will literally jump anyone with an open flame, so all the lighting is glow lights and lamps.) Cooking fires are in fully contained vessels.
Years ago, the Arcadey creek was one of those waterways that the area built itself up around. There were two major streets that parallelled it (a short distance to the creek). Along the old creekway there were paths along the upper banks.
The Arcadey creek would occasionally become stagnent (creating quite a stink of unpalitable water) and occasionally flood the surrounding area. The city fathers decided to "fix the creek" (the first water control project since Imperial times). They dug a deeper channel for the creek, lining it with stone. They built many small bridges, almost one every block to connect the two sides of the district easily. There was much civic pride when they completed the water project. The council decided to take on the rest of the water ways.
After a while, they decided to redirect all the waterways out of the city. It allowed for it all to be done with one huge project rather than nine costly smaller ones. This left the only completed waterway, the Arcadey Creek dry and abandoned.
The area in and around the creek became a sort of no-man’s land, as it was not covered by anyone’s charter from the crown - a perpetual someone else’s problem. People discovered that they could play cards and dice on the creek and the Watch could not touch them. Players discovered that the ban on theater/ plays in the city did not pertain to areas unchartered… i.e. around the creek… so many troupes set up stages here. The street performers which were recently outlawed joined the players. The Arcade district began to take form.
Some people sit up tables in the creek to play cards and dice. People would sit upon the rocky banks and watch performers (primative stadium sitting. Better performers and perfomances had rough seats installed across from their stages.
*note: This is where the phrase rocking or rock’n comes from. To people in this area, sitting on the rocks is to sit and watch a badly produced play or public display. So if you tell someone you are not sitting on the rocks, you are not going to watch this bad performance/ situation/ hysterical situation. The term, "He’s Rock’n", means he is lying/ bluffing… usually badly or he is trying to be something he is not… usually badly.
Certain areas of the creek bed were roofed over. Some of these roofts are fabric/ tarps… others are flimsy but bridges (which usually have stalls built over them). These were normally around stages, but other areas have them too. There are new fronts on the buildings (facing the old creek bed) and stall built up against walls. The old trails have been built up with wooden boardwalks. The area has grown and grown again, with food stalls, some restaraunts, exhibits of the strange/ bizzare/ mystical, and one mission trying to save the various lost souls here.
The stalls and small stages hawk wares and food. Some have carnival like games of skill and chance. Pinball/ pachinco ball games are popular. There is a nightly knife and dart throwing contest in one of the local pubs. Performers take up certain stages or stroll through the crowd for tips. Various theater troupes put on performances through out the day and night. There are still dens, where card players gather… drinking and playing.
Some enterprising souls have built upwards… building wooden sidewalks above the ground level. There are stalls on the roofs of the buildings (or doors have been put in to a second story wall). There are new footbridges connecting the topwalks on each side of the creek bed.
Eventually the new area was granted a charter as an "entertainment" section that can not be closed down in except in times of plague, despite the cries of various religious and guild leaders.
If you want to see some people to populat this area:
30 of the Arcade District