I'm writing a story (a pen and paper roleplaying story), which is based on the USA.

I'm writing a story (a pen and paper roleplaying story), which is based on the USA. The story is inside the World of Darkness, with its vampires and all, and that forces some needs for the city.

I'm looking for a city near New York, that is not part of New York City (Wikipedia gave me the impresion that Yonkers was kind of merged with New York City), that have at least a population of 100.000, and, if possible, that have either this kind of blocks (suburbs it's called? Not a native english, sorry), or some kind of cultural activity, be it music festivals, or museums, I don't know, some artistic atraction.

I first placed my story on Poughkeepsie, but I just found out that it only has a population of 30k, which my bad Spanish town duplicates, so I'm now at a loss. I tried to look around on the wikipedia, but the whole county, district, suburb, pseudo-cities/actually part of new york thing confused me. My wiki-fu has been weak lately, so I'll still try again later, but I though it would be a good idea to ask you.

Thank you.

Top Answer:

This is probably an ancient and abandoned comment, considering Poughkeepsie is closer to 40k in population today. But as someone who has lived in Poughkeepsie for years, let me explain this to you a bit.

Poughkeepsie is a small city, but almost no one in Poughkeepsie actually spends all their time in Poughkeepsie. It isn't "one-stop shopping" like NYC. There's a train that goes south along the Hudson river that hits a bunch of other small cities, towns, and hamlets, before ending up in the heart of NYC. That takes about 90 minutes and costs about $20 (exact details available online from Metro North) and plenty of people use that to commute. So while Poughkeepsie is in some ways very distant and apart from NYC, there is that link.

What's more common is that Poughkeepsie residents view themselves more as residents of the Hudson Valley as a whole. The many cities, towns, and hamlets of the Hudson Valley together form a loosely-networked culture. Most people in the Hudson Valley drive, and it isn't a big deal to drive from Poughkeepsie to other cities, such as Fishkill, Wappingers, Kingston, Beacon, Newburgh, or more distantly, Middletown, Peekskill, Carmel, and so on. Individuals will have the circles that they run in and areas they're more familiar with--to one person, Middletown will be "right next door," while to another it's "all the way over there." Travel to nearby Danbury, CT is also common.

Because people commonly leave Poughkeepsie to work, shop, date, and so on, and also come into Poughkeepsie from neighboring areas for the same reasons, a vampire wouldn't be relying on the strict population of Poughkeepsie in isolation. There are also a lot of towns around Poughkeepsie that don't have much going on (e.g. Arlington) whose residents would come into Poughkeepsie to shop, eat out, etc.

Poughkeepsie is also one of those Hudson Valley locales that has weird borders--think of a donut, with Poughkeepsie the city as the hole, and Poughkeepsie the town as the rest of the donut. Most Hudson Valley cities have this weird setup. So a lot of the population (and some of the culture) of Poughkeepsie is spread out in the larger Town of Poughkeepsie, with the more concentrated City of Poughkeepsie in the center.

Let's define some terms: Poughkeepsie (the city one, anyway) is actually a city in its own right. It isn't a metropolis like NYC, of course. It doesn't have skyscrapers or the overall hugeness of NYC. It's just legally considered a city. The stereotype of a suburb is basically a bunch of houses with lawns where people from cities go to raise their kids. There are certainly parts of Poughkeepsie like that, but the urban center isn't suburban. Whether the suburbs are suburbs of NYC or suburbs of Poughkeepsie itself is a matter of debate. Poughkeepsie is part of NYC's urban sprawl, but we're also sort of the tail end of the Rust Belt. A lot of upstate NY cities have that post-industrial depression feel. In some ways, we're culturally closer to Detroit than NYC. Places like Rochester are what we would have been without NYC to ride on. We're basically an area that used to be self-sustaining through industry, but when that industry died we became more of a satellite of NYC to stay alive. When you head out a bit more into the Catskills, further from NYC's influence, you see the effects more strongly.

Getting back to vampire worldbuilding: did you know that nearby city of Newburgh is considered the "murder capital of NY"? Poughkeepsie is usually #2 on that list. The real-life reason for this is that, in the 1990s, when police ousted NYC gangs, those gangs didn't break up, they just moved north. Both Newburgh and Poughkeepsie have a lot of that transplanted gang violence. Shootings are sadly common. Years ago, upon learning a co-worker lived in the (then run-down, now gentrified) city of Beacon, I said that was kind of a crappy town, and she said, "Better than Poughkeepsie--someone gets shot there every day!"

So the high murder rate does make it easier to worldbuild vampires.

A cultural note on that too--several Hudson Valley towns have undergone gentrification recently. (The rich people around here I know hate that word. "Gentrification" is when rich people take over a poor neighborhood, and the word focuses on how this exiles and harms the poor. Rich people don't like to think about the blood on their hands or the repeating US history of white people taking land from PoC, so they call it "urban renewal," and insist, emotionally, that it is a good thing.) This is the fringe of a much larger gentrification going on in NYC. Beacon is one example of a place that's been completely gentrified lately. Parts of Kingston are being gentrified, and that's such a place of poverty and misery it makes me sick to think of hipsters competing with single welfare moms for housing. People are trying it with Newburgh, but Newburgh, nicknamed "sin city," will never stop being a hotbed of crime, too dangerous for the most arrogant of hipsters. And that brings us to Poughkeepsie.

Poughkeepsie is a city with a deeply disassociated culture. The downtown (and its associated culture) vibes with nearby Newburgh, Detroit, and Brooklyn-as-it-was. But on the southside, you have Vassar College, and the palest, most doe-eyed privileged children, along with their ivory tower liberal professors. This is a class divide, a cultural divide, and a racial divide. In some instances, even a language divide, as much more Spanish is spoken downtown. Downtown Poughkeepsie is classified by the FDA as a food desert--a place where residents don't have access to fresh fruit, vegetables, and meat to cook with--while southside Poughkeepsie has gluten-free cupcake shops and vape shops and even the corner store stocks kombucha. This isn't gentrification, though, because Vassar has been there a while, so this cultural border isn't new, and for the most part hasn't advanced. Just throwing that in there, because this cultural conflict is at the heart of the region. It creates a quite visible shift--in housing, in storefronts, and even the demographics of the people you pass on the street and the languages and dialects you hear spoken around you.

But the point of this long comment: yes, I think vampires would do just fine in Poughkeepsie. I think they'd probably want to have cars (in an absolute pinch, they could take the bus, if you want a vampire without any dignity) and would probably get around a lot of the surrounding cities and towns, but based on the murder rates, if they focused on Poughkeepsie and Newburgh I would not be surprised. If you really want it to blend in, they might also shoot their victims and disguise them as gang killings.

Other Answers:

Suburbs aren't in a city -- they're outside a city. You won't find anything like your picture in a city, at least on the East Coast of the US.

However, if you want a city + suburbs close to NYC, check out Newark, NJ and Essex County, NJ. Newark is pretty much a terrible place (good for vampires and all that, I suppose) but the suburb towns in Essex County are really nice. Take a look at Montclair, Essex Fells, Cedar Grove, Verona, etc.

there are some really suburban parts of Staten Island and Queens

LEVITTOWN NY the first and original suburb.
Radburn NJ the first town built to accommodate the automobile.
if your looking for a good example y not just go with the OG Original Levittown

Levittown is NOT the first suburb, most of the houses where I live (same county as Levittown) were built before Levittown

Hoboken NJ
over 100k
suburb of nyc
Google it, it should fit your criteria

Only downside is the 1992 underdog computer game Superhero League of Hoboken is from there

Hoboken is not a suburb lol

How about Greenwich, CT? Near New York, with lots of yuge mansions and probably an interesting environment for such a story.

I have been looking most counties and cities on the NY state, and I ended up choosing Poughkeepsie (what a pleasant surprise). The main thing detracting me from picking it in the beginning was the population, as vampires require, usually, a ratio of 100k humans per vampire to not be a problem, and Poughkeepsie showed as having only 30k, and I need to fit 10 vampires. But that number can be streched, the overpopulation plot is also interesting, and I found out that census and city borders are a bit weird there in the US, as yeah, Poughkeepsie CITY does have 30k, but that doesn't mean that a vampire in the middle of Poughkeepsie only have 30k humans nearby, but quite the opposite.

Also, It has a pretty downtown, it has a couple of Colleges, libraries, a Theater, a culinary academy and some restaurants, and an opera. Also, it is 2 hours away from NY, which is pretty important.

Anyway, thank you all. Your ideas pointed me to good cities that showed me how things work there.So yeah, thank you.


Sorry, just realized -- "NJ" is New Jersey.

Yonkers is not part of NYC, but it borders it

Albany or Buffalo, New York maybe?

Albany or Rochester.

Related tweets:

No tweets about this topic yet. Tweet us at @trvlthoughts to contribute!

Tagged:

This topic has not been tagged yet.

Information:

This topic has been viewed 608 times and has 13 replies.

Add a new reply

Replying to 'I'm writing a story (a pen and paper roleplaying story), which is based on the USA.'.