Welcome to the City of Wanda's Domain, an imaginary city that I have created
and brought to life using art and writing. Look around and enjoy!

There are more pictures and maps down at the very bottom and in the archives!

What Wenda's listening to...

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Windrider Green Line

The Green Line, west to east:

Wilderness Avenue--As the name implies, pretty desolate.  There are some housing developments near the station, but not much else here at the true western end of the line.  A center island platform; tracks are shared between Green Line and Westside Commuter trains, but only the Green Line stops here.  The north track and all electrification end here.

The route passes by the Windrider West Yard, where trains are stored and light maintenance performed.

Hannigan Junction TC--The functional end of the line.  Some housing and light industrial development, a park and ride, transfer to Begonia's Commuter Line stop, and the western end of all Begonia bus routes.  Two parallel sets of tracks; one for Green Line trains, one for Commuter trains, both with center-island platforms, as well as a shared platform between the two tracks for ease of transfer.

Soltau Street--Housing and light industry.  Center island platform.

Las Preguntas TC--Serves housing and light industrial jobs.  The primary transit center for Begonia's west side, including a large park and ride.  A sunken station, in an open cut with side platforms.

The line curves sharply to avoid the Rose Hills.

Marsh Canyon--Primarily housing.  Side platforms.

Crosses bridge over Marsh Creek.

Westbourne Avenue--Housing, hiking trails and the Marsh Creek Greenway.  Side platforms.

Byrne Street--Housing and light commercial.  Center island platform.

Line crosses a funky old railroad bridge over the Donald Shaw Freeway, then dives into a short subway under downtown Begonia.

Boadicea Square--Primary stop for downtown shopping/dining district along Moya Brennan Boulevard, as well as Boadicea Square and Downtown View Parks.  Most convenient transfer station to the Begonia Streetcar.  This is an underground station with side platforms.

Green Line exits the tunnel.

Harlequin Street--Commercial district with offices and retail.  3 blocks from Begonia Central Library.  Side platforms.

Donegal TC--Commercial district with offices.  Central Begonia's primary transit center; connections to many bus lines, and a park and ride.  Side platforms.

Here, the line intersects a stub track that links the Green Line with the Begonia Boulevard Streetcar.  It is used primarily for maintenance and other non-revenue use, but occasionally trains with passengers also utilize it.  Also, it passes through a short, sharply curving tunnel underneath Interstate 140.

Westside Boulevard TC--Commercial district with offices and light retail.  Station is on an elevated structure, with connections to the Windrider Bronze Line, several bus lines, and a park and ride on the lower level.  Center island platform.

Byzantine Road--Medium density housing, apartments, condos, etc.  Center island platform.

Mountain View--Medium density housing and retail, with easy access to Mountain View Park.  First station within Wanda's Domain city limits.  Side platforms.

Estacada Street--Mostly housing.  Center island platform.

Merges with Windrider Blue Line; the two will share track for almost 15 miles.

Reid Mihalko TC--Industrial area, with some offices.  Park and ride.  Center island platform.

Westside Galleria TC--Transit-oriented-development area with direct connection to Westside Galleria Mall and attached high-density housing.  Park and ride with multiple bus connections and a branching stub track connecting to the Begonia Boulevard Streetcar.  Indoor station built into the ground floor of the Westside Galleria complex has side platforms opening directly into mall and housing.

Green and Blue Lines dive directly into a subway from here.

Calpernia Street--Older, quaint inner-city neighborhood, with medium density housing and retail.  Underground station with side platforms.

Music District--Serving both the City Concert Hall and Lexington Conservatory as well as a plethora of smaller venues and clubs for nearly every genre under the sun, this stop earns its name.  Also home to much high-density housing.  Underground station with side platforms.

Bonaparte Street--High-density urban neighborhood.  Primarily housing and retail.  Underground station with center island platform.

Green and Blue Lines temporarily surface for the next station, and pass by the Windrider Central Yard, where most heavy maintenance/repair work is performed.

Marylebone TC--Primarily industrial area, with a large park and ride.  This is one of the busiest, most unique, and, some say, most confusing stations on the Windrider system.  Here is where the Green and Blue Lines cross the northbound Yellow Line, and temporarily merge with the southbound Yellow Line and both directions of the Red Line.  Four light-rail lines, a branch of the streetcar, and more than 20 bus lines all stop here, at surface level, in a large intermingled platform/bus stop zone.  The Green, Blue, and northbound Yellow Lines merge onto a single "traffic circle" track, paved so that buses may drive around the same circle, with a large, circular center island platform for trains, and a concentric, outer circle platform for bus stops.  In the middle of the circular platform is another "station" with side platforms for Red, southbound Yellow Line, and Express Streetcar trains that are laying over at the transit center.  If you must use this station, just grit your teeth, keep your eyes open, listen to announcements, and double-check your bus or train's headsign before boarding to make sure it is going where you want to go.

Tracks dive back into the subway, now carrying both directions of the Green, Blue, and Red Lines, as well as the Express Streetcar and southbound Yellow Line trains.

Orinoco Street--Downtown Wanda's Domain, offices, retail, and high-density housing.  Underground station with center island platform.

Watermark Street--Downtown Wanda's Domain, offices, retail, and high-density housing.  Underground station with center island platform.  

The southbound Red Line and the Express Streetcar branch off and leave the subway here.  Green, Blue, Northbound Red, and southbound Yellow Lines continue.

Garvey Road--Downtown Wanda's Domain, offices, retail, and high-density housing.  Underground station with center island platform.  

Millenium Quarter--Downtown Wanda's Domain, offices, retail, and high-density housing.  Underground station with side platforms.  Mezzanine level with side platforms for transfer to Wanda's Domain Boulevard Streetcar.  

Longship Street--Downtown Wanda's Domain, offices, retail, and high-density housing.  Underground station with center island platform.  

Marina TC--Waterfront District; access to the south bank of the Lancre River.  Offices, retail, and high-density housing.  Underground bi-level station:  Upper level for eastbound Green and Blue lines, and northbound Red Line.  Lower level for westbound Green and Blue Lines, and southbound Yellow Line.  Surface level connections to downtown buses and Begonia Boulevard Streetcar.

Red and Yellow Lines branch off completely here.  Green and Blue Lines continue east through a tunnel under the Lancre River.

East Port--Industrialized north bank of the Lancre River, including main ports.  Unique underground and partly underwater station with center island platform.

Green and Blue Lines leave the downtown subway here.

Abalaye Street--Eastside residential neighborhoods and industrial areas.  Center island platform.

Lemuria TC--Closest park and ride/transit center to W.D. International Airport.  Connections to most eastside buses.  Serves remote airport parking, rental car offices, and private aircraft terminals.  Sunken station in an open cut, with side platforms.

Green and Blue Lines enter a curving tunnel which takes them onto a short street-running section on International Boulevard.

Hotel Row--Self-explanatory; primarily serves airport hotels.  Street-running station with sidewalk platforms along International Boulevard.

Green and Blue Lines again dive into a tunnel through the airport itself.

Wanda's Domain International Airport--Directly serves primary terminals.  Indoor station with center island platform, opening directly into baggage claim and ticketing areas.

Green and Blue Lines exit tunnel at airport perimeter.

Santa Barbara Street--Housing and light commercial.  Center island platform.

Albertson TC--Housing and light commercial.  Park and ride with connections to local buses.  Center island platform.

Feitshans Street--Housing and light commercial.  Sunken station in an open cut with side platforms.

West Braxton TC--Medium density housing and offices.  Surface level park and ride with connections to many eastside buses.  Elevated station with center island platform.

Blue Line branches northward from this station toward Aberystwyth, Wendy, and Oriole.  Green Line continues east.

Buenos Aires Avenue--Mostly housing.  Side platforms.

Green Line begins street-running segment along Bellehaven Boulevard.

Rye Street--Retail and restaurant district with housing along side streets.  Sidewalk platforms on Bellehaven Boulevard.

Bellehaven TC--Retail and restaurant district with housing along side streets.  Bellehaven Boulevard is converted to a transit mall for local buses, along with sidewalk platforms for the Green Line.  A park and ride is located a short walk away.

Argus Street--Medium density residential district.  Sidewalk platforms on Bellehaven Boulevard, with an additional stub track and sidewalk platform on Argus Street for trains turning around here.

Green Line leaves Bellehaven Boulevard, and narrows to a single track before entering the old Lancre River Canyon tunnel, built in 1933, and refitted to accept light rail in 2004.  This begins the Nynell Extension, the most controversial segment of the Windrider system ever built due to the difficult terrain and low population density between Bellehaven and Cavia Porcellus.  The multiple single-track segments limit headways to 15 minutes, so about half of rush-hour trains turn around at Argus Street, as well as two thirds of late-night trains.

Lancre--Serves the small, quirky canyon village at the base of the Lancre Falls.  A very unique underground station--it is the only bi-directional station on the system with only one track and platform.  The only entrance to the station is through an underground extension of the Lancre Municipal Elevator, a funicular railway which connects the main village inside the canyon to Lancre Highway and the Rainbow Bridge above.  Rides on the funicular are free with a valid Windrider ticket or pass, otherwise 25 cents; fare control for the two systems are integrated with all ticket machines at surface level funicular stations.

Green Line leaves the tunnel and returns to a double-track configuration.

Brion Village--Primarily serves Lancre Falls State Park, as well some riverfront houses.  Center island platform.

Wood Glen--Serves a transit-oriented development.  Center island platform.

Green Line again narrows to a single track, and begins climbing Moonstone Pass along the old 1933 route, with many curves and tunnels.  Line returns to double-track just before the Moonstone station.

Moonstone--Small town in the Amaryllis Mountains.  Underground station with center island platform.

Green Line descends Moonstone Pass in modern twin tunnels, and surfaces directly before Vixen Vance station.

Vixen Vance TC--Housing area, large park and ride, and local bus connections.  Center island platform.

Chandra Avenue--Suburban housing area.  Center island platform.

Green Line merges with track for the heavy-rail Mariposa Valley Transit run ValleyLink line.  The two will share track for the remainder of their run.

Cavia Porcellus TC--Suburban housing and transit-oriented development.  Park and ride with connections to most Mariposa Valley Transit bus lines.  Shared station with MVT ValleyLink trains; Green Line trains use side platforms, ValleyLink uses a high-level center island platform.

Arboretum--Housing and light commercial, with connection to Wanda's Domain County Arboretum.  Side platforms.  Tracks are shared between Green Line and MVT ValleyLink, but only the Green Line stops here.

Green Line and MVT ValleyLink dive into a short tunnel that takes them into the median of the US-395 freeway.

Bontrager Street--Housing and light commercial.  Center island platform.  Tracks are shared between Green Line and MVT ValleyLink, but only the Green Line stops here.

Green Line and MVT ValleyLink separate just before Nynell TC station; Green Line descends to a street-running loop along Village Avenue, while MVT ValleyLink ends in the freeway median.

Nynell TC (northbound only)--Medium-density housing and commercial, with a park and ride and connections to most MVT bus lines in the area as well as the ValleyLink train.  Platform on left, opening onto bus depot.

Nynell Village North (northbound only)--Downtown Nynell's retail and restaurant district, with medium-density housing nearby.  Sidewalk platform on left.

Line loops around through a park to South Village Avenue.

Nynell Village South (northbound only)--Downtown Nynell's retail and restaurant district, with medium-density housing nearby.  Sidewalk platform on left.

Nynell TC (southbound only)--Medium-density housing and commercial, with a park and ride and connections to most MVT bus lines in the area as well as the ValleyLink train.  Sidewalk platform on left, opening onto bus depot and park and ride.  This is the eastern end of the line; trains lay over here before continuing back onto the main alignment westbound to return to W.D. and Begonia.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

The Windrider System

Rail transit first returned in Wanda's Domain almost 30 years ago with the restoration of the old Begonia Boulevard Streetcar.  Wanda's Domain Transit sought to restore the old route to replace the overcrowded bus line 20, affectionately known as the "Terrible 20," which ran the Boulevard between downtown W.D. and Begonia.  It was an ideal place to experiment with modern light rail, with existing high ridership on the bus line projected to nearly double with rail.  The 1950's-era tracks had never been removed from the street--they had simply been paved over.  In 1981, WDT began the Streetcar Project, as it was originally known.  The tracks were uncovered, remarkably in good condition for their age, requiring only simple modernization and repair work.  A new overhead electrification system was installed, and simple sidewalk stations constructed at major intersections.

Rather than using vintage streetcars, however, WDT ordered a starter fleet of custom-built light rail vehicles from a local company--an unusual move, as most of these vehicles were manufactured in Europe and Japan.  These single-ended, articulated cars, offically known as RailBuses or Windrider Mark I's, were built using bus bodies fixed to standard-gauge railroad trucks.  Unfortunately, they would prove to be a source of endless trouble for the agency, as mechanical failures became a regular occurrence.

Yet, despite the problems, the response was overwhelming.  People flocked onto the new line, and by 1983 the streetcar faced the same capacity and delay troubles as the original bus.  Yet this was the catalyst for the system that exists today.  A group of Begonia residents successfully lobbied for WDT to consider an "express streetcar," which would branch off of the main route onto a private right-of-way through the extremely dense areas of downtown and the Music District, avoiding the traffic jams and frequent stops of the existing line.  In 1984, the plan was approved and funded.  Windrider was born.  

The first line to be constructed was the westside section of the Green Line, originally running from Civic Center TC downtown to Byrne Street in Begonia, with six underground stations.  The "Express Streetcar" as it was then called, was an instant hit, and soon WDT began replacing the line's ailing, low-capacity RailBuses with the much larger Windrider Mark II vehicles.  The Mark II's, however, stretched the boundaries of what could be called "light rail."  They were too large to safely maneuver any street-running route, including the new Watermark Street tracks between Civic Center TC and Watermark Street station.  These vehicles were forced to lay over at Watermark Street's stub track, and only the RailBuses could run the whole route.

Next would come the popular Downtown Loop Subway, which would be extended into the Yellow Line subway that exists today, and in 1992 a stub called the Blue Line was branched off from the Green Line south into Culebra and Rossmoyne, using an elevated right-of-way primarily in the median of Interstate 38.  Both lines were built to the specs of the Mark II vehicles.

By the mid-90's, however, WDT began to drastically change its vision for the fledgling system.  Although the Yellow Line attracted heavy ridership in its northern section, through the highest density sections of the city, its southern suburban extension was more lightly used than expected, despite passing through vibrant neighborhoods such as Sienna and Umberpark.  What really stood out, however, was the failure of the Blue Line.  Trains ran half-empty even during rush hour, and off-peak use was low enough to prompt WDT to run one-car trains and end service at 10 p.m.

What went wrong?  The common factor seemed to be that both lines were separated from the areas they ran through, especially the Blue Line.  For most of its six-mile length, it ran on elevated track in the middle of the Valley's busiest freeway, and its primary destination, Culebra, had but two stops, with the one closest to the neighborhood's center being in the freeway median.

As they began considering their next project to extend Windrider, WDT officials reviewed the successful original Green Line, and discovered that it was not blind speed and efficiency that always made a line successful, but pedestrian-friendliness and community integration.

As a result, when the Red Line was built in 1996, it was primarily at-grade, with key stops such as the Stadium and U.C. Wanda's Domain being pedestrian-oriented facilities at street level.  Soon after, WDT began testing a new class of rail vehicles: the Windrider Mark III, combining the agility of the old RailBuses with increased capacity and modern technologies approaching the capabilities of the Mark II.  These would become the standard vehicle used on most of the system, with the RailBuses primarily consigned to streetcar use, and the Mark II primarily running the Yellow Line.

Completing the system were extensions of the Blue Line south to Moyer Park, and north to Oriole, followed by extensions of the Green Line west to Hannigan TC, and east to Nynell.  The final route to be built was the westside suburb-to-suburb connector called the Bronze Line, from Jadzia's Domain to Bermuda.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Windrider Pictures

My drawing of a Windrider train leaving Sunnyvale TC (transit center) station in Quinlan:

Windrider Pictures

Two interior views of a Windrider train rendered with DAZ Bryce from a 3D model I am working on:

Windrider Urban Rail: System Map

Having grown up in Los Angeles, a city of freeways and disorganized, spotty public transit has given me a fascination with how transit systems work.  Very soon after gas hit its all-time high recently (peaking at nearly $4.75 a gallon in most of L.A.!), I decided to be adventurous and try to save some dough.  I bought myself a Metro Day Pass, and headed out to see what the world looked like from the inside of one of those big orange buses lumbering all over town--something Southern California suburban dwellers never do, according to the legends, anyway.

Real Life, on the other hand, is different.  Los Angeles suburbanites can and DO take public transit, despite Metro's rather haphazard bus network.  Despite gas dropping back to semi-reasonable levels, I am now a converted transit rider, and my urban infrastructure obsession took its next turn, from freeways, interstates and interchanges, on to the ways to move people around who do not have cars, or choose not to drive them.  Yes, I guess it is an obsession when I can close my eyes and tell what make and model of bus I am riding from the sound of the engine.  ;-)  

But it was not the buses that truly caught my interest that day that I ventured out into the big scary city without the safe hideaway of my car.  It was the fast, sleek, smooth-riding Metro Gold Line--14 miles of light-rail heaven.

I never liked trains much before that day. Interesting.

Take a ride on the Windrider.  You'll like it.  ;-)

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Etymology: Begonia

Meet Begonia's namesake:

Yes, I have a thing for cute guinea pigs.  ;-)

The Guinea Pig Goddess surveying her kingdom from on high...

Sadly, she is no longer with us...  :-(  She had the most lovable personality of any pet I have ever had--a real rough-tough-creampuff type who liked to think that she was a vicious attack dog--except on the inside she was just a sweetheart.  Ahh...I wax poetic.  She is memorialized in a statue at the 401 freeway exit to Moya Brennan Boulevard.


City Profile Series: Begonia

One of the jewels in Wanda's Domain's crown is the beautiful city of Begonia, located about fifteen miles west of the city center in a small hidden valley at the base of the Taliesin Mountains.  Although technically a suburb with its relatively small population of 114,000 people, Begonia is known as a haven of the arts and culture, and a center of Celtic music and art in California, rivalling WD proper in number of galleries, theatres, concerts, and other cultural events per capita.  Its compact, pedestrian-friendly downtown invites strolling along the lively boulevards and side streets, window-shopping and taking in the nightlife.

The city is also home to several exquisite parks, including the well-loved Downtown View Park, which, as its name suggests, sits on a bluff directly above downtown.  Its many secluded vista points are favorite spots for couples on a Sunday afternoon.  Also, running north and south from the expansive Hannigan Wilderness Park directly through the heart of the city is the Marsh Creek Greenway, a favorite of kayakers, bikers, and joggers.

Getting There:

The city is connected to the rest of the WD metro area by two interstate highways:  east-west traffic is served by Interstate 138 (the Begonia Freeway), and north-south traffic utilizes Interstate 140 (the Elken's Domain Freeway).  In addition, the downtown area is served by a small state highway, California 401 (the Donald Shaw Freeway), which provides a near-complete loop around downtown.  Please note, however, that I-138 is the primary commuter route between Begonia and the WD city center, and suffers from nearly constant traffic woes; be sure to allow plenty of extra time when driving.

Getting Around:

Downtown Begonia is laid out primarily from north to south along Moya Brennan Blvd., between the Rose Hills and Begonia Blvd., the major east-west street and other primary commercial zone. Residential districts extend on the north and east side of the Rose Hills, as well as south of Begonia Blvd.  

North of the Rose Hills, most east-west traffic uses either Ordreya Ave. or Calle del OtoƱo.  In the industrialized western portion of the city, an additional city-maintained expressway is formed by Camino de Las Preguntas and Calle del Invierno, linking the industrial area easily with I-138.

Addresses are numbered with N, S, E, and W designations; the north/south dividing line being Begonia Blvd., and the east/west line at Moya Brennan Blvd. south of the Rose Hills, and Dylan St. north of the hills.  Although most streets follow a basic grid, some of the major thouroughfares tend to be routed a bit organically, curving around hills and other obstacles, and can change names and directions unexpectedly.  The best advice for an out-of-towner?  Carry a good map.

Public Transportation:

Begonia is served by the Wanda's Domain Transit system, including two light-rail lines and the Line 20 Streetcar on Begonia Blvd.  The Windrider Green Line runs east and west through the city, connecting Begonia and Wanda's Domain, and helps to ease the traffic strain on I-138.  The underground Boadicea Square station is directly below downtown Begonia, and provides a convenient place to catch the train.  On the east side, straddling the city boundary between Begonia and WD, is the north-south Windrider Bronze Line.   

In addition, eleven WDT bus lines run through the city, as well as five shuttle buses operated by the city.  Begonia is entirely within Fare Zone 2.  Although a bit hilly, Begonia is respected as a bicycling haven, with many bike lanes and off-street bike paths.  Ample bike parking is provided at all Windrider stations except Boadicea Square, as well as many major bus transfer points.  In fact, it is often easier to find a bike rack spot or even a locker than a parking spot at one of the city's few, far-between, and full park-and-ride lots!

Don't Miss:

Downtown View Park
Boadicea Square, and the Boadicea Statue at Moya Brennan Blvd. and Crounse St.
The Celtic Museum
The ever-changing displays at the galleries on Moya Brennan Blvd.
Kayaking on Marsh Creek

Enjoy your stay!
I wish...

Friday, December 19, 2008

Street names and three pictures online!

Finally, I've gotten this working!  The map now has clickable street labels with blurbs about how they got their names, and three of my colored-pencil drawings of the city, clickably placed on the map a la Google Street View:

Thursday, December 18, 2008

City Map Series: Begonia

Begonia is a beautiful hamlet approximately fifteen miles west of the Wanda's Domain city center; this map shows it in fine detail. Coming soon will be some of my drawings of the city, write-ups of street names, and a city profile with much more info!

Credit to David Kendrick's Shields Up highway shield generator for the interstate symbols, and to Wikipedia for the Celtic spiral.

Everything else was hand-drawn by yours truly using Adobe Photoshop!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

About the name...

This project has evolved organically in my imagination, so a lot of the names of places featured here may not seem to make a whole lot of sense because they were chosen for their personal meaning.  If one has a story behind it, however, I'll explain, and I'll start with "Wanda's Domain."

I never really chose this name consciously--it just came to me and stuck, and try as I might, I haven't wanted to get rid of it.  

Who is Wanda?  (Note that it's not Wenda, so it's not my egotistical bid for immortalization ;-)  No--Wanda was my pet guinea pig when I was ten years old--just as this city was born.

The namesake enjoying his midday snack :-)  Yes, his.  The pet store can have, ahem, trouble, telling the sexes apart when they're young.  I tried to change his name after finding out, but, like with the city, it stuck.

I love guinea pigs.  They make great pets, and they're just so darn cute!  I've had ten of them, and most got towns named after them...

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

City Limits

(Thanks to Kurumi for the wonderful SignMaker app!)


You could say I have an obsession of sorts.  For most of my life, I have been fascinated with how cities work.  As a child, I spent hours playing SimCity, dreaming up new lands and metropolises from my imagination.  But at some point, I began to feel limited by the constrictions of the game software; it didn't let me truly express what I wanted to create.  I learned every little trick I came across to cheat my way around the gameplay and just get to the point--building the city I saw in my head!  I was never totally satisfied with the results.

So I created a city in the only place where I could truly mold it to fit my imagination--my own head.  It started small, but soon grew into a county and then an entire metropolitan area, complete with suburbs and all!  I drew maps and sketched out scenes, all with little or no reference.  

Now, I finally have enough material to begin to bring the City of Wanda's Domain to the world, through the amazing power of the internet.  This is very much a personal project for me, a way to bring my disparate passions for both urban planning and art together, into one place.  Special thanks to Bill Olson for encouraging me to put this on the web for all to see.

I hope you continue to read on, and enjoy!