South Freedom lies on the other side of the South River from the downtown area and is the area that may face the greatest challenges in Freedom’s future. Parts are affluent or middle class, but others are stricken with poverty and plagued by crime, particularly the influence of organized crime. Wealth and poverty stand side by side in the area and the government hopes to make a difference there. It only remains to be seen if it can.
South Freedom is best known for the Boardwalk, running along the shore of the South River between the Wallace Expressway and Route 4. The boardwalk is lined with hotels and casinos, since gambling is legal in the area (but not in other parts of Freedom City, by local ordinance). Originally built during the heyday of gangsters in the 1920s, some of the hotels show their age while others have been recently rebuilt or renovated.
Money pours into the Boardwalk from local people and thousands of tourists from all across the country. The local government and law enforcement are well aware the Boardwalk is riddled with Mob corruption and influence, but efforts to close it down are met with stiff resistance because of the substantial amounts of income the city earns from taxing gambling and other recreational activities along the Boardwalk. Where the police are often stymied, heroes like Foreshadow (see Chapter 5) have made greater progress.
South of the Boardwalk is the Southside district of the city, bounded by Route 4 to the east and Route 6 to the west. Southside is mostly middle- and lower-middle class, but growing pockets of poverty and crime have been eating away at the community for years. Much of the housing near the Boardwalk has dropped in value as crime and gang activities have increased. Many parts of Southside have seen crack houses and meth dealers spring up, get rooted out by the police, then show up somewhere down the street. Areas of low-income housing seem to breed crime, and people are careful about avoiding parts of Southside at night.
The southernmost area of Southside remains the safest and most middle-class, centered on the Freedom College campus and Jordan International Airport. However, property values near the airport tend to be fairly low, creating a kind of “buffer zone” of cheap housing. Freedom College is an accredited state college with something of a reputation as a “party school” and some local businesses (legal and otherwise) cater to the interests of college students looking for a good time.
Even Southside is seeing the impact of the prosperity of Freedom City, with more money going into public works and new construction. But, as some point out, there are concerns that the contractors and construction companies getting that money are influenced by organized crime, merely strengthening their position in Southside.
West of Southside is the neighborhood of Lincoln, built up in the 1950s and 60s. Lincoln has been a predominantly African-American area from the beginning and remains so today, although with a fair number of Hispanics and other ethnic groups. Many of the people living here work in places along the Boardwalk, but many young people also become involved in gangs and criminal activities as a way out of the poverty of the neighborhood.
Lincoln was known as the stomping-grounds of the gang-busting Black Avenger in the 1970s. The Avenger was a member of the Freedom League who also operated solo in the neighborhood. Although he retired and disappeared into obscurity years ago, Lincoln is now home to another local superhero, the teenaged Sonic, who is secretly a student at Joseph Clark High School as well as attending “extra-curricular” classes at the Claremont Academy.
East of Southside is the community of Bayview, between Route 4 and the Interstate, bounded by South Bay Road on one side and the South River on the other. Bayview is a more affluent community than Southside, resembling Kingston, on the other side of the narrows. It goes from waterfront property with a spectacular view of the Centery Narrows and Riverside toward the higher ground near South Bay Road, known as Bayview Heights. Property in Bayview is more expensive than average and there is community concern about crime filtering in from Southside. Neighborhood watches are becoming more common, along with contracts with Stronghold Security.
PLACES OF INTEREST
The Claremont Academy
Port Regal is similar in many respects to North Bay, but it’s somewhat less affluent and some of the old mansions and Victorian-era homes have been sold to businesses or turned into bed-and-breakfast inns. Port Regal clusters around Lake MacKenzie and the peninsulas jutting out into the bay. The lake area features more upscale homes, particularly those with lakefront property. The lake is a popular place for recreation during the summer and fall, replete with boating and other water activities.
Further north, the demographics become solidly middle-class with the Ocean Heights amusement park located at the end of the peninsula. Off an out-of-the-way seaside road stands Providence Asylum, the sprawling Victorian mansion of the Phillips family that became a mental hospital in the early twentieth century and continues in that role today. Some of Freedom City’s most infamous criminals are committed there.
The most isolated point of land in Freedom, Lonely Point is named for its rocky and desolate terrain. There are sandbars and scrub plants, but little else along the narrow peninsula. Lonely Point is home to a United States Naval base, and a single road leads out there from Port Regal. The Naval base sometimes serves as a drop-off or pick-up point for prisoners moving to and from Blackstone Island and often works in cooperation with the Space Control Center on Star Island.