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My primary question comes from a fledgling animator's perspective. I'd like to capture the general look and feel of a lot of South Florida's cities, while also combining it with my urban-fantasy/science-fantasy's quirks. What I'm not sure about... is what sort of balance to strike between clear real-world inspirations (especially when it comes to road/city layout, the look of buildings, the arrangement of residential, industrial, and business areas) and the purely fictional designs (especially with the alternate history in-mind). Forgive me if this question and its context are a bit wordy... I've been building on this idea for a few years now, and am finally at a point where I want to, and can, make something concrete about it.

To add a bit of context:

The primary setting of many of my stories is set in an alternate South Florida (one that was separated from the rest of North America sometime in the 1830's, about 170 years before the series' present day... a channel was carved through the middle of Florida through abnormal means, turning Lake Okeechobee into a colossal river that allows water to flow from the Atlantic Ocean into the Gulf of Mexico... turning South Florida into an partially flooded island). The new river is about 40 - 50 miles wide, North-to-South, and cuts through the peninsula, creating some very rough coastlines.

To speak of the alternate history, this is one where the United States, as we know it, does not exist. Britain, as we know it, is a different animal. Its monarchy was effectively wiped out during the tyrannical reign of a "god-king" (ruling from 1356 to 1556, until he was destroyed), and the concept was dissolved following a period of instability and uncertainty (between the 1560's and 1650's). Fast-forwarding a bit to the 19th century... I'd like to imagine that this alternate Britain has some colonial hold on North America (made a bit difficult by the Spanish Empire, American Natives, and the supernaturally vigorous flora, fauna, and geography). This, somewhat haphazardly, leads us to the Sionna-Seminole Wars (1810's - 1850's), when Florida was bifurcated (conflicting contemporary reports point the finger at both the Seminole and Nature itself, as both Europeans and Seminole received substantial casualties from the event). The Seminole were eventually subjugated, the island colony of St. Sionna was established (the alternate Southern Florida). St. Sionna would achieve independence in 1930, following a catastrophic war. And now, in an alternate 2006, we have a modern island nation in the midst of a strange, hazardous world.

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  • $\begingroup$ (1) The English monarchy was effectively destroyed in 1649, when Great Britain and Ireland became the Commonwealth of England, Ireland and Scotland, headed by a Lord Protector. In real history, the monarchy was restored in 1660. (2) That's not a river, that's a strait. (3) There is zero reason for Floridian cities to be similar to develop like in real history; they will be completely different. $\endgroup$ – AlexP Aug 13 at 2:42
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    $\begingroup$ I apologize for my VTC, but traditionally (and oddly, no doubt), questions about the process of worldbuilding have been off-topic (too opinion-based, a VTC reason). This site is for asking specific questions about your fictional world. This question can't have a Best Answer, which is part of SE's model (one-specific-question/one-best-answer). Worst of all, it's basically an invitation to a discussion - and SE is not a discussion forum. If you have specific questions about the world you're developing, we're happy to post answers. If you want to chat about it, please visit Worldbuilding Chat. $\endgroup$ – JBH Aug 13 at 5:02
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Ok your 'Florida' is kinda a caribbean island now.

So make your base architecture like that of Cuba. Because well Cuba is cool.

However for the more fantastic aspect have it that for whatever reasons the Família Basilica never gets approval to go ahead. So Antonio Gaudi doesn't die, and moves to Florida getting a job as a city planner architect.

One thing leads to another and boom fantastic Florida.

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If you're talking about cities in USA I would say there cannot be any similarities to "our world modern" cities. If you look on map of Manhattan (or Fort Amsterdam) from 1640 you will notice that althought it was kind of straight it was also very organic. A map from 1660 embelish it even more Fort Amsterdam on Wikipedia. A clean, easy to read grid of streets and roads showed in the second half of XIX century. In Europe Barcelona is only city I can think that look that way.

What more, cities in USA lack a need to wall themself. That need had very strong impact on European and Euroasian cities. You could differentiate beetwen villages with "Main street" that had buildings along it and towns that grow from a circle. A castle, bailey, market etc.

In your world the need to have a palisade is still there. And that dictate how cities grow. European cities are not so close and tight because they didn't had space to grow. It was just more convienent to be close to gate that could be closed and provided security. Best if you were living inside that gated community from the start.

For example, maybe, Fort Harvie would never be abandoned. "Ok the war is calming but there is no reason to leave this post because we might need it soon". Which, if you mention flora and fauna the "soon is now".

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