Monday, May 3, 2010

[Resources] Seattle is the New Rome

The ancient city of Rome was built among seven hills (Aventinus, Caelius, Capitolinus, Esquilinus, Palatinus, Quirinalis and Viminalis).

Each hill had a character associated with it:

Aventinus was named after a pre-Roman Italian king, rumored to be the son of Hercules and a priestess named Rhea, who was killed and buried there. Remus, one of the founders of Rome, was said to have chosen this hill for his observation station, while Romulus chose the Palatinus, but several sources have it differently, with Romulus on the Aventinus.

Caelius was where the rich and famous lived.

Capitolinus was where the Temple of Jupiter was built and where a human skull was found during the digging of the foundations.

Esquilinus was lush with Holly Oaks and overlooked the Colosseum.

Palatinus was the location of the cave where the she-wolf raised Romulus and Remus and also where the Imperial Palaces for Augustus, Tiberius and Domitian were built.

Quirinalis was the site of a pre-Roman Sabine village and many famous Roman families were very proud of their Sabine heritage.

Viminalis was the smallest of the seven hills.

While many cities claim that they have seven hills like Rome, only one is a true descendant: Seattle.

The seven hills of Seattle were First Hill, Yesler Hill, Second Hill, Denny Hill, Capitol Hill, Queen Anne Hill, Beacon Hill.

First Hill is also called 'Pill Hill' because of all the hospitals that perch on it's heights: Harborview Medical Center, Swedish Medical Center, Virginia Mason Medical Center and the old Providence Medical Center (now Swedish Medical Center/Cherry Hill Campus). This is Seattle's version of Capitolinus.

Yesler Hill was called 'Profanity Hill' by lawyers from by-gone days. Yesler, the start of Skid Road, is the new Palatinus.

Second Hill was also named Renton Hill, after Captain William Renton (1818-1891), a merchant and lumberman of old Seattle. Though both names have now passed out of common usage, it's now considered upper Capitol Hill and upper First Hill by most city residents. This hill attunes with Esquilinus

Denny Hill was razed in several projects between 1897 and 1930. The area is known as the Denny Regrade. From 1897 to 1899, the hill was first regraded along 1st Avenue. A second razing occurred along Pine and Pike Streets from 1902 to 1911 using water from Lake Union with hydraulic mining techniques. A final set of regrades occurred between 1929 to 1930. The remains of Denny Hill analog straight with Viminalis.

Capitol Hill , formerly known as Broadway Hill, has many of the city's old mansions on "Millionaire Row" and is a densely packed neighborhood. The main drag on the hill, Broadway, is the center of Seattle's counterculture. Volunteer Park, a number of churches, including St. Mark's Episcopal Cathedral, and scores of coffeehouses dot the hill. This matches pretty well with Caelius.

Queen Anne Hill was first settled by David Denny in 1852. The hill became commonly known for the Queen Anne style of homes built on it by 1885. As this hill is named after a pre-Seattle monarch, so is it now Aventinus.

Beacon Hill was nicknamed "Boeing Hill" in the 1950s and 1960s for all the Boeing employees who lived there. A century before that, the early settlers called it Holgate and Hanford Hill. And even before that, the native americans called the hill the Greenish Yellow Spine. The hill now has many asian businesses, mixed in with parks, the old Pacific Medical Center (now used by, cemeteries and the civil rights/community organization, El Centro de la Raza. Filled with strong family ties and proud communities, Beacon Hill is Quirinalis.

How you use this setting is up to you. But I know that when I run a future campaign set in the Seven Hills of Seattle, there will be blood!


  1. I've always been a fan of overlaying our fantasy playworlds on the actual real-life locales we're familiar with or have visited. Years ago I slept on the streets of your new Aventinus a few times. Damn fine beer too.

  2. Thanks for the comments. The "overlay of fantasy worlds to real ones" is a common trope in urban fantasy literature and games. One of my favorites is Changeling: The Dreaming.

    I'll have to try that beer now.


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