Note: all images in this article taken using my personal EEP settings rather than the region defaults.
Ethereal City is an estate of (at the time of writing!) four regions in Second Life, comprising (from north to south-east as one looks at the map) two Full private regions leveraging the Land Capacity bonus (Ethereal City Noir and Ethereal City), a Full region (Ethereal City Legacy) and a Homestead (Ethereal City Beauty). The entire estate is held by Noon Jaxxon, who is also – along with Dandy Warhlol (terry Fotherington) – is principally responsible for the overall design and construction of the estate.
It was an invitation from Noon (received together with suggestions from several others (including MorganaCarter and Shawn Shakespeare, both of whom fired over LMs to me) to drop in and wandering through Ethereal City Noir, which I gather is the latest addition to the estate. However, such is the nature of the estate. I set out on a much more extensive ramble through streets and long trails and old railway lines.
Together, the four regions offer an interesting fusion of ideas which flow seamlessly one to the next, despite the influences that helped form them originating in places hundred and thousands of kilometres apart in the physical world. For example – and to take the regions in reverse order to that given above – take Ethereal City Beauty. Sitting within the south-east of the estate, it presents as a coastal region which could reside almost anywhere in the world. For me, it held a sense of perhaps being borrowed from the smaller islands just of the Scottish coast or perhaps those scattered along the Danish and German Baltic coasts.
Being a gathering of little islands, the region offers the opportunity to take the water on little motorboats and putter around, or – for those finding their way to the bar at the extreme eastern tip of the largest island in the group – the chance to go swimming. There are also multiple places it sit and relax and / or enjoy a little romance and dancing; however, do keep in mind the two islands in the north-east corner of the region, one of which carries a large house on its back, are both part of a private residence, and so while the small cove before it is open to boats and swimmers, do please respect privacy.
A single point of contact for traveller links Ethereal City Beauty with Ethereal City Legacy. It takes the form of an iron girder bridge of the kind many might well associate with the railroads of North America. Tracks still sit on the bridge, but on the far side from the islands they vanish, leaving only a broad expanse of gravel forming a path through the region and to hint at where the line may once have run.
Keeping up the sense of open countryside that could have been lifted from almost anywhere in the world (or at least the northern hemisphere!), Ethereal City Legacy is a mixed public / private rentals setting so again, discretion is required to avoid trespass into private homes. Fortunately, most of the houses are clearly denoted as private by the presence of gated access as the various paths and trails lead to them, making accidental trespass harder, providing one keeps to the footpaths.
Richly wooded and rugged, the region offers a good sense of privacy for each of the rentals properties, with the landscaping richly capturing a sense of the wild outdoors. More bridges span gorges and water whilst wood hewn from trees has been used to help retain other paths at they climb slopes in steps, reducing the risk of them being washed away in heavy rains, and a network of lamps to light the way at night.
All of the trails – assuming you’ve come from Ethereal City Beauty in following this articles – lead eventually to the northern coast of the region (passing by way of various scenic / romantic spots in the process). Here sits a waterfront parade of shops, the local rental office (also the landing point for the region) and the local railways station. Fronting the rental office is a broad terrace and wide span of a stone bridge reaching across the channel to connect with Ethereal City.
The entryway to Ethereal City takes the form of a modest square sitting under the arch of an old city gate. This also forms the main landing point for the city, and so offers a good place to start general explorations. To help with the latter, the Information Centre offers a series of quick teleports to various points of interest around the city for those content to hop around.
The city is a curious fusion of European and Sino-Japanese sensibilities throughout, and is marked by multiple public spaces and buildings interspersed with private (and commercial?) rentals. Like urban centres the world over, the city has older elements bumping up against more modern, whilst a narrow-gauge train chugs its way around street-level tracks, available for people to hop on and off at will. The public spaces offered at the Information Centre sit both at the ground level and up on or within some of the taller buildings, the latter offering views over which is a very mixed urban setting.
A Sino-French connection is to be found within Ethereal City Noir, which connects to Ethereal City via a road-topped causeway. Largely put together by Dandy Warhlol (terry Fotherington) on Noon’s behalf, this is intended to offer a fusion of Paris and the Shanghai French Concession. This was one of a number of colonial concessions negotiated / forced on the Chinese empire by European powers whereby ports, sections of cities and parts of regions were forced into control by said countries.
In the case of France, the Chinese conceded certain territory around the city of Shanghai in 1849, leaving it under French administrative control through until 1943 when the Vichy government surrendered it to Japanese control before it reverted to Chinese ownership following the end of World War 2. Throughout that period, it was established and remained one of the major centres of Catholicism in China.
During its time, the Concession went through multiple changes and expansions, some of the more popular sections becoming heavily influenced by French architectural and road design, with broad avenues (such as Avenue Joffre), apartment houses and large houses set within walled gardens. Today, several examples of these influences remain, and the former Concession residential districts are among the most affluent in modern Shanghai.
Ethereal City Noir captures some of this whilst also mixing it with elements suggestive of the banks of Seine and the cobbles streets south of the Champs-Élysées, albeit on a much smaller scale and perhaps a little more whimsically. This is a place where area seem to blend together, with touches of the 1930s, 1950s and more recent times mixes easily with the architecture of earlier periods – there’s even a suggestion of France’s medieval history, while overhead a hint of the Montgolfier brothers drifts on the wind.
As with Ethereal City, Noir offers much to see and explore, and together then make a contrasting pair of settings for photography when paired with the more open countryside of Legacy and Beauty. When taken as a whole the estate offers a richly rewarding visit.
All regions in the estate are rated Moderate