Progress City History
And as the sun, that had been too afraid to show its face in this city, started to turn the black into grey, I smiled. Not out of happiness. But because I knew… that one day, I wouldn’t have to do this anymore. One day, I could stop fighting. Because one day… I would win. One day, there will be no pain, no loss, no crime. Because of me, because I fight. For you. One day, I will win.
- Batman, Batman #625
Founded during the Revolutionary War, Progress City was originally a township created entirely as a cover for rebel colonists, known as “Progress Town.”
After the Revolutionary War was won, Progress Town was one of the first cities to hold a democratic election for its leadership. Their original mayor, Generosity Lee, was one of Washington’s lieutenants during the war, and a staunchly democratic figure, seeking equality and liberty for not just landed men, but all peoples of Progress Town.
Progress Town grew rapidly, mostly due to the egalitarian attitudes of Generosity Lee and their proximity to Boston Harbor. Progress Town tended to the “overflow” from Boston’s docks, and also attracted several mercantile shipping companies in its own right – mostly those from countries that were a bit less popular in the United States at the time. After Generosity Lee passed, his son, Brom Lee, founded the Progress Town University (later the University of Massachusetts at Progress City), one of the first colleges to be built in the new United States.
Progress Town was renamed Progress City in 1900, at the instigation of the then-mayor, Geoffrey Keane. Progress City subsumed several smaller cities around it, notably Kirbytown to the west and Kenton to the south. The growth of industry saw Progress City becoming something of a boomtown, as its educated citizenry put the city at the forefront of technological innovations. The city’s demographics became even more varied as people from a variety of nations moved here to find employment at the various industrial and scientific businesses sprouting up in the city, or at least to marvel at, invest in, and purchase the wonders the city produced.
The city shrank a bit during World War I and again during World War II, due to patriotic fervor claiming the lives of many of the city’s younger children, as well as large portions of the student and science populations being recruited to work on government projects instead. It was during this time that the first heroes from Progress City began appearing – gadgeteers or vigilantes lacking any real superhuman power, like the Crimson Kid, Broad Stripe and Bright Star, and Codebreaker.
These heroes paved the way for the heroes that emerged in the wake of World War II, most notably Apex and Collider. Prometheon also made its first appearance in Progress City, and the city later became the headquarters of America’s foremost hero team, the Honor Guard. Unfortunately, with the heroes also came the villains – Braintrust; the High Five; Dr. Next; Bel-Marduk. The city has been the site of many famous super battles, but unfortunately this has had an adverse effect on the economy. To this day, some of the older families in Progress City blame the supers for preventing the city from becoming an even greater, even richer place than it is now, and some have even claimed that the city’s scientific progress was retarded by the presence of supers.
During the 60s and 70s, Progress City went through a brief fad of conservatism, in response to the drug problems (and subsequent organized crime problems) that followed in the wake of the flower children movement that the city was so permissive about. The mayor for three terms in the 60s and 70s, Jordan Harmon, cracked down hard on drug-related crimes, bloating the city’s jails and Witchstone Penitentiary, and triggering a great deal of civil disobedience from minorities and students who claimed they were unfairly targeted. The political turmoil of the era ended with the Franklin Street Riot, and the resignation of Mayor Harmon from office.
His successor, Andrew Lensherr, however, was no better. The police softened their enforcement policies, but the emergence of criminal syndicates dedicated to the sale of drugs resulted in criticism of both the police and the supers for being too soft on crime. Mayor Lensherr fanned these flames, deflecting blame from the police (who stepped up their efforts once again) to the Honor Guard and other local heroes, claiming that the problem was that the police could not successfully nor safely intervene against the super-criminals employed by the drug syndicates. Citizens began to echo his sentiments, demanding a more regimented, military approach to the Honor Guard’s behavior – more oversight, more regulation, but most of all, more fervent action against the drug dealers. The turmoil culminated in the Register Tower Incident, which led to the discovery that Mayor Lensherr was heavily tied in to organized crime and his subsequent removal from office.
The eighties dealt a major blow to the city. They were one of the first hit by the Gouge, who faced the Honor Guard for the first time in the Battle of Progress City. The fight led to the death of Collider, and wrecked the Generosity Valley neighborhood in a way it still hasn’t fully recovered from. When the Age of Heroes ended with the defeat of the End, the city was in mourning for a full year; suicide and crime rates skyrocketed.
Whatever damage was done to the city by the world wars and the drug trade was paid back a thousandfold with the advent of the personal computer and later the Internet. Volund International, one of the first companies outside of IBM and Apple to get into the business of PCs, had its American headquarters in Progress City, and the interest in personal computers resulted in a hiring boom at the now meteorically expanding company. Computer engineering became a major industry in the city, swelling the intellectual and educated population even further, and the economy began to make another major upturn. The city is now economically stable, even booming; but crime is a continued issue, and civil unrest is still simmering just below the surface.
Progress City is densely populated, with a population of 530,399 people. Including Kirbytown and Kenton in the census data, the greater metropolitan area is approximately 700,000.
The inhabitants are predominantly white, but peoples of all races are represent
Progress City is a relatively prosperous city, but it suffers from severe income disparity, with recognizable upper-class, middle-class, and lower-class areas of the city.
The city’s primary industry is technology and science – many MIT graduate students take their internships in Progress City and many STEM students, especially marine biologists, come to Progress City to work at the facilities there. The Progress City Aquarium is the East Coast’s answer to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, and NASA’s Pike Research Center is located in Kenton, one of the exurban areas outside Progress City (equivalent to the NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View).
After STEM careers, education is the next-largest job market in Progress City, in both the public and private sectors. UMPC is the private university within the city, and has the more sought-after jobs than Progress City State University. There are also numerous private schools, both religious and secular. Progress City routinely scores high on standardized tests, but the state board of education is known for rejecting the idea that this is enough and encourages teachers to teach the material, not “teach to the test.” The city has the third lowest high school dropout rate for in the United States, and the lowest college dropout rate.
The rest of the employment opportunities in Progress City are standard business jobs – management, accounting, etc. – skilled labor – mechanics, electricians, plumbers – and other infrastructural and service industries.
Progress City’s culture is highly egalitarian. The theater district hosts a wide variety of events, and many big-name bands appear at the Chris Cheney Music Hall. Punk rock and indie music are very popular with the student population, and there is a thriving techno and rave scene in the city as well. College students have also led to city being very well-read; multiple indie bookstores continue to thrive in the city despite the digital revolution and the move to e-books.
Progress City is known for having actively welcomed the flower children during the Sixties, and has similarly been a liberal haven in the Nineties and early 21st century. Conservative politics are clearly in the minority in the area, with progressive policies being almost presumed to pass muster with the voters. They have a large LGBT community, largely living in Rivertown, and were the first city in the state to legalize gay marriage.
The city’s major newspaper is the Progress City Intelligence, known colloquially as “the Brain.” The Intelligence has been home to multiple Pulitzer-winning journalists; they were among the first to report unbiased information about the attacks during the Chicago Democratic Convention, and are still well-known for breaking the corruption scandal involving Mayor Andrew Lensherr.
In radio, the city’s major AM stations are news radio WHNR and talk radio WLKY. WLKY is known for being a source of anti-super sentiment during the Age of Heroes and for being the outspoken “Devil’s Advocate,” the right-wing firebrand in a liberal city. Its major FM radio station is WPRG, which does news and sports. There are a variety of music stations available in the area, with the two biggest being WROK, a classic rock station; WJAM, a Top 40 pop station; and WHEX, an alternative rock station best known for its late-night death-metal programming.
Progress City has a hometown baseball team, the Progress City Bandits, and a hometown hockey team, the Progress City Minutemen, both minor-league teams who are used as “farm teams” for the Red Sox and the Bruins, respectively. The college football team, the UMPC Lightning, has a passionate following in the area.
Cheney Music Hall – used for concerts, usually more “fringe” bands than the LeeTech Center.
LeeTech Center – the premier sports arena in the area, home of the Minutemen, also used for concerts.
The Progress City Atlas – a statue of the Honor Guard erected outside City Hall
Rivertown Park – the second-largest park in the city, used as a gathering place for a lot of protests.
Unity Park – A huge park near downtown, often compared to Central Park. Houses several memorials to fallen patriots, including the heroes who died in the Eighties.
Eagle Park – A large park in Hero Town, best known for being beautiful during the day due to the large amount of naturally growing flowers, and incredibly dangerous at night.
Lantern Park – the park outside UMPC, known for its large lantern statue, an abstract piece commissioned by the university as a gift to the city.
The Gardner Baths – a beautiful Victorian-era bathhouse, left up as a historical landmark but abandoned long ago; the first historical landmark in the city to be damaged in a hero battle.
The Richards Radio Telescope Array – a radio telescope array, one of the largest on the East Coast, built on the peaks overlooking Progress City.
Cape Progress Lighthouse – one of the first lighthouses in the United States
The Old Opera House – a gorgeous old building in Hero Town; long abandoned, but fully restored as part of a failed effort to increase tourist interest in the area and find the money to restore Hero Town.