illuminated cities at the centre of me


AH tumblrcon panel: the City

The City of Almost Human is an unnamed metropolis on the West Coast of the US. It ranges from shady black-market districts to high-end mansions.

It is watched over by drones, protected by the police force and separated by a wall. The shabbier parts of the city, such as Kohln Avenue district by the wall, Kingston Heights, the Ironworks have been main locations in several episodes, while on the outskirts and subsurbs, you have high-end Chrome schools and large mansions.

As the series is shot in Vancouver, there are also several distinct landmarks that stand out.

Speculation and History: The City and The Wall

(see this post for the Wall panel)

There isn’t much else we’re shown about the city, so from here on it’s all meta about what it could hide, what could have happened previously and how the worldbuilding could stretch.

Central to the city is the Wall, which it into separates two sections. While we don’t know its purpose or background, the hints that are given in the series are plenty to go by. Since the history, location and backstory is coated in mystery, a lot of speculation about the city comes from the Wall and the few times that it’s mentioned.

Historically, city walls have had two purposes: to protect and to segregate.  While perimeter walls have been used for thousands of years, separation barriers is something from the 20th century, often used to isolate two geopolitical factions, dividing them into to governing forces.

We can assume that the Wall functions as a separation barrier from the vastly different conditions on the two sides. In the few shots it appears in, we are shown shabby, run-down buildings, overgrown streets and what appears a city with no electricity, in contrast to the city’s gleaming architecture.

Separation barriers have been used to divide two conflicting sides that have turned, or will turn, violent, with race, religion and political segregation being the main causes. While the Berlin Wall is most well-known, it was separated by outside forces (Ally/Soviet). However, Belfast’s Peace Line functioned from 1969 to 2011 to divide the working class into Catholic and Protestant sides as tensions grew during the Troubles. Niciosa was divided along the Greece/Turkey border to suppress riots, and Jerusalem’s Green Line kept the peace between Palestine and Israel factions from 1948-67.

These were mostly used as a last resort, as tolls of urban partition are heavy. The social and economical effects of living in a segregated city has been explored in the book Divided Cities by Calame and Charlesworth, and the drastic difference in economical and social status even after the city is reformed is not easy to repair.

Going from this, it’s likely that some form of armed conflict broke out in the City’s recent history. It would also explain the series’ vague hints of an authoritarian-like government, such as the surveillance drones, DNA profiling at birth, the cheery voice asking you to obey authorities. It’s easy to see how, in the aftermaths of either terrorist conflict or an armed uprising, the government decided to tightened security and go segregate the two parts of the City.

Now, separation barriers from history usually aren’t as large and menacing as the one in Almost Human, most of them rising maybe 10 metres into the air. We don’t know who is on the other side of the Wall, or why they were partitioned, but the nature of the wall itself should be a huge factor in indicating that the government wanted them as separated as humanly possible.

Furthermore, it hints at a governing powers more oppressive than what’s been revealed. It’s possible that this level of deterioriation on the other side of the Wall could be a form of deliberately suppressed of economy on the the other side in order to hinder uprisings. Despite the pretty building of the city, it’s hiding a very ugly underbelly.

(disclaimer: I am in no way a historical expert on this, and what I’ve got I  got from Google, so if I have dates or facts wrong, or if you have anything to add to this at all, please correct me!)