I'm trying to develop the city where my fictional story will take place. Do you have any resources for city planning, or different types of cities and architecture in different climates and cultures--or really anything about creating a city?
Planned cities. These cities were made before they were settled or substantially renovated after they were settled. Planned cities are more navigable than their unplanned counterparts. Planned cities often use a gridiron plan. Planned cities include Washington, D.C., New York City, and Melbourne.
Unplanned cities. These cities were originally small settlements that grew larger and larger without much organization. Unplanned cities are a haphazard dash of roads that often follow old footpaths. Unplanned cities that survive to the modern era usually have been substantially renovated. Unplanned cities include Boston, Rome, and Paris.
Most cities are near a large body of water. The water supplies the city’s inhabitants and takes away waste. The older the city, the more likely it is to be on the water. If the city is not near water (Las Vegas) or has insufficient water (Ancient Rome), it must be brought in via aqueducts, pipes, etc. A city on the coast will have salt treatment facilities, pipe water in from freshwater springs, or exclusively non-water beverages (fermented drinks, milk, etc.)
If a city is hilly, the most important people/most important buildings will probably be on the tops of the tallest hills. The hills will have names. A city on flat land will be easier to build on. A city built on swampy land (Venice, Chicago, St. Petersburg) will need to deal with the heavy buildings sinking into the muck. A drainage system or levies may need to be constructed to keep the water out of the city.
Before the great and glorious invention of affordable air conditioning, cities in hot or mild climates tended to have more open floor plans, like holes in the ceiling and open gardens within their house. There wasn’t a need to keep air inside the house, where it usually became hotter. Precipitation (chiefly rain) would have been a seasonal or occasional problem. Cities in the mountains or in cold climates do not have open floor plans. The windows are small to prevent heat from escaping. There is a minimum of doorways. All entrances to the house are covered to prevent wind, snow, or sleet from coming in.
Buildings in cold areas need slanted or onion-shaped roofs to displace the weight of the accumulating winter snow. Buildings in hot areas can have flat roofs because the weight of snow isn’t a problem. (Also, you could sleep on a flat roof.) Many buildings in cold-climate cities today have flat roofs, but it is a problem your construction crews should be aware of.
Much of a city’s “character” - including names, architecture, areas of interest, city stereotypes, sports teams, and so on - comes from the people who settled it. You will need to do a historical background before you name or build anything. It doesn’t need to be lengthy. Just list out what ethnic groups settled in the city and who has ruled the city over its history. For example, the city had a large influx of Greek settlers, so many of the older streets have Greek influences. The recent emigration of Indians will not have as large an impact because they haven’t been established as long. Let’s say for the last two hundred years, the city has been ruled by an Indonesian government. The new architecture - especially government buildings - in the city will look Indonesian. The Indonesian buildings will go up alongside Georgian-looking buildings from when the British controlled the city and Chinese-looking buildings from when the Chinese controlled the city. Since the city was largely influenced by Greeks, Indonesians, British, and Chinese, the street/circle/landmark names will be a mishmash of these languages. The name of the city itself likely comes from the first group to have a strong presence there.
The easiest way to start making your city is to divide it into neighborhoods, boroughs, regions, or something similar. There are three ways you can go about this:
Culturally. Birds of a feather tend to flock together and this is very true for immigrants. Immigrants live together, within the boundaries of a few city blocks, where they can practice their religion, language, and culture with those of like mind. Many cities in America have a Chinatown and Little Italy for these reasons. People of similar income also tend to live together, so in addition to ethnic borders, you can divide by income. Richer people tend to live outside the city or close to the important buildings. The income boundary can shift over time - say the canal was a big source of income, so all the rich merchants lived there. When the canal went out of use, the rich people moved near the big road and people of lower income moved into the areas near the canal.
By service. The financial district is here, the residential is over here, the clothing shops are here, the government is here, and the really good food is over there. It might lead to names like the Shopping District or the Government Block or Embassy Row or the Red Light District. People usually live near their work, so you should plan this alongside neighborhoods divided by income.
Geographically. The city’s district names come from the points of the compass, like the North Quarter or the Southwest Section. The district names could also come from landmarks like the Wharf District or Riverside - or even weather patterns, like Foggy Bottom.