A GUIDE TO THE CITY OF ARKHAM
Background information and places of interest
Arkham began its existence as a simple trading post at the mouth of the Miskatonic River in the 17th century. The river provided a natural transportation route for the lumber and other natural resources of the area, and a steady flow of trade and commerce soon formed, aided further by the town’s location along the coast of the Atlantic Ocean. Arkham grew steadily over time, as homes, buildings, churches, and streets began to spread outward from the southern shore of the river. Local farms in the surrounding countryside provided ample food for the residents, and the nearby forests and hills provided the raw materials that fueled the construction of the town’s growth. The combination of local industry and steady trade from other cities (through the town’s sea port) created a vibrant economy that spurred further growth and expansion. Though still much smaller than other New England towns such as Boston or Providence, Arkham had become the largest town in the Miskatonic region by the mid-18th century, surpassing older towns such as Dunwich and Innsmouth.
The Revolutionary Era
During the mid-18th century, local sea captains made a concentrated effort to expand Arkham’s sea trade and turn Arkham into a significant port for international goods. Sprawling docks and warehouses were constructed on the coastline north of the river to attract merchants and traders. The effort was successful, and Arkham for years served as a frequent stop for merchant ships travelling between America, Europe, Africa, and the West Indies. This resulted in a fresh flow of riches and money coming into the town, and expansion and growth of the city itself became a priority. The first permanent bridge was built to span the Miskatonic River, and the city slowly began to expand to the north side of the river. It was during this period that Miskatonic Liberal College was founded, funded by a trust of both monetary funds and over nine hundred books left in the will of Jeremiah Orne, a local investor and sea captain who died in 1765. When the Revolutionary War commenced a decade later, ships from Arkham gained notoriety for their successes against British ships that would attempt to sail past Arkham to the more populous areas of New England. Dozens of merchant ships were seized by the local revolutionaries, and hundreds of British troops were killed when their ships were sunk off the coast. The plunder obtained by the Arkham sailors further fueled the growth of the city, which escaped from the war essentially unscathed.
Unfortunately, the end of the war brought about a national peace that was more damaging to Arkham’s economy than the war itself had been. Larger cities such as Boston, Salem, and New York quickly began to dominate the international sea trade in New England, and the effects in Arkham were swift and brutal. By the beginning of the 19th century, the once-steady flow of commerce through Arkham’s ports had slowed to a trickle. Though Arkham was still the largest and most important mercantile port in the Miskatonic region, it was completely overshadowed by the large markets and exploding populations of the larger metropolitan cities, and the ports were once again used for little more than transporting raw materials around the area. The expansion of the town slowed considerably, and the local economy became practically stagnant.
The 19th Century
However, Arkham would once again manage to prosper. The new generation of civic leaders, the children of those local leaders who had been the driving force behind Arkham’s growth decades earlier, soon realized that a new approach would be needed to revitalize their town. They decided to take advantage of the vast amount of farms in the surrounding countryside and opened Arkham’s first textile mill. The mill was extremely successful, and was soon followed by dozens of additional mills and factories in the city. As the century progressed, Arkham grew on the strength of its expanding industrial base, becoming increasingly urbanized. Textile mills were eventually followed by brickyards, shoe factories, watchmakers, leatherworks, and other industries, all of which took advantage of the area’s natural resources to make products that could be sold for a profit in other cities and towns. Furniture made from the sprawilng forests in the area was in particularly high demand, and Arkham earned a reputation for quality craftsmanship.
The industrialists were the driving force behind Arkham’s growth throughout much of the 19th century. While Boston, Providence, and New York seemed to explode in size and population overnight, Arkham maintained a steady, constant level of growth for several decades, which allowed the local leaders to expand the city in a logical, planned manner. The northern half of the city, in particular, was carefully laid out in advance and built to a specific plan. A sprawling city square was included for municipal events, a large train station was constructed to allow room for future growth, and a network of sewers was designed and built. While Arkham did not have every luxury that was available in the larger cities, it was modern enough to accomodate visitors from any location with dignity and style. By the end of the century, electricity, indoor plumbing, and telegraph service all came to Arkham years before they were available anywhere else in the region.
The Rise of Miskatonic University
During this time, Miskatonic College began to earn an impressive reputation throughout the academic community. Following the example of Jeremiah Orne’s orginal donation of over nine hundred books, the college became notorious for seeking out and acquiring as many texts, tomes, and books as possible. However, unlike most academic institutions, Miskatonic did not shy away from books that dealt with esoteric topics, nor did it limit its search to works from America and Europe. It was not long before Miskatonic boasted a library that contained works that were literally unavailable anywhere else in the world. Scholars and acamedicians from across the globe soon made their way to Arkham to take advantage of the impressive collection, and Miskatonic College eventually grew into an institution that was widely admired and respected. Despite the relatively small size of the campus and the surrounding city, Miskatonic employed a faculty of professors that were just as educated and respected as any of the nearby Ivy League schools. In addition, not only was the college library the equal of the libraries at Harvard, Brown, and Yale, but it was clearly superior to those distinguished institutions when it came to works dealing with esoteric and arcane topics. By the middle part of the century, Miskatonic College had grown from a simple local school to a leading institution at the forefront of the academic world that attracted students, scholars, and professors from all around the world. In recognition of the school’s established history of academic excellence, Miskatonic Liberal College became Miskatonic University during its centennial celebration in 1866.
The Decline of the Industrial Era
The industrial boom that was the heart of the local economy began to fade at the end of the 19th century, and it was once again the end of a war that brought about the change. Though the Civil War ended in 1865, it was many years before both the nation as a whole was able to recover from the ravages the war had wrought on the national economy. As the southern states began to recover and re-enter the Union, they provided a less-expensive alternative for many textiles and other manufactured products. As a result, the textile mills in the former Confederate states surged, which hit the textile industries in New England hard. Many of the mills in Arkham went bankrupt and closed, and the local economy once again began to slow down. After seven decades of steady prosperity and growth, Arkham’s economy experienced its first decline of the century. However, the economic slump hit most of New England just as hard, so Arkham was able to retain its position as a modern center of trade and commerce within the area despite the decline. Nonetheless, by the end of the 19th century, New England had lost so much textile business to the South that Arkham’s once-thriving industrial base was a mere shadow of its former self.
The 20th Century
The beginning of the 20th century was a difficult period for the city of Arkham. The first decade was plagued with a series of natural disasters that battered the town, including brutal winters, record flood waters, and several fires that devastated the local forests. In addition, an epidemic of cholera swept through the town, infecting hundreds and killing dozens. The local economy did not grow appreciably during this time, but neither did it decline any further, bolstered by the increasing influence and popularity of Miskatonic University. The town began to show signs of growth in the next decade, but the city’s labor force was greatly reduced when America entered the Great War in 1917 and many of Arkham’s young men went to war. Just as the war was ending, another epidemic swept through Arkham in 1918. A particularly deadly outbreak of “the Spanish flu” occurred in Boston, and it did not take long for it to reach Arkham. Over one hundred residents of Arkham were killed in the outbreak, and three times as many were infected by it.
Arkham Today (1920’s)
Arkham today is the most modern and cosmopolitan of the the cities and towns in the Miskatonic region of Massachusetts. It boasts paved streets, electric streetlamps, a wide assortment of shops, a dedication to history and culture, and is home to one of the most prestigious universities in the nation. While many of the industries that contributed to Arkham’s growth have faded and declined over the years, they have not disappeared entirely. Lumber, crops, and raw materials are still shipped down the Miskatonic River. Cargo to and from foreign lands still passes through the commerical docks. Mills and factories still produce a variety of textiles and other goods. Though none of these is currently the dominant industry in Arkham, they are all still present, which creates a diversified base that supports the local economy rather effectively. Even if one of these industries has a bad year, there are still other industries upon which to rely. It is this diversity that has helped to maintain the local economy for several decades.
During the early part of the decade, Arkham’s civic leaders decided to embark upon a plan to make their city as modern as possible, while still honoring and protecting the legacy and history of the city. This resulted in a large number of civic improvements, which have done much to change Arkham’s image. Once considered little more than another town along the Atlantic coast, it now presents the image of a small but modern city that is ripe for continued growth and expansion. Nonetheless, it still retains elements of its small town charm, which have attracted a surprising number of visitors from Boston, Providence, and Salem who wish to escape the hustle and bustle of the big city. This tourism provides yet another source of revenue for the already-diverse local economy, though civic leaders remained focused on developing a local industry that Arkham can rely on in the future.
The city’s greatest strength is perhaps Miskatonic University. While the city and its economy have risen and fallen over the century and a half since the school’s founding, the university itself has continued to expand and grow without pause. There are even businesses in Arkham that cater exclusively to the school, judging that the steady flow of new students and professors into the school represents an infinitely-renewing source of customers. While much of New England has missed out on the economic boom that much of the nation is currently enjoying, a small portion of that boom has found its way to Arkham through the university and its contacts throughout the country. It remains to be seen whether catering Arkham’s businesses specifically to the university can be a successful (or even advisable) long-term source of revenue for the city, but there is no doubt that the school’s very presence lends additional prestige to the entire town.
In general, Arkham has been quite successful throughout its history. It has risen from a tiny trading outpost to a modern, mid-sized American city, and it has done so without abandoning its history or traditions. The local residents are largely a proud, hard-working people who are very protective of their history. Despite their efforts to become a more modern city, there is still a certain small town charm to them, an open friendliness that is common among people who know every neighbor in the area. Arkham contains the same socio-economic classes as larger cities, from the farmers who work the fields outside of town, to the laborers who toil on the docks and in the mills, to the merchants, to the wealthy land-owners and shipping magnates, most of whom are descended from the original sea-faring families that pushed to expand the city two centuries ago. The size of the city has attracted a certain amount of criminal activity over the years, but violent crime is not a common problem within the city, and the police department spends much of their time trying to enforce the laws of Prohibition. Arkham is a city with a proud history and an open future.
Locations Within Arkham
Note About Arkham Street:
Almost all the streets in Arkham run north/south or east/west. For the streets that run north/south, the Miskatonic River serves as the dividing point between north and south. Thus, Peabody Avenue is North Peabody on one side of the river, and South Peabody on the other. Block numbers increase by 100 as they proceed away from the river in either direction. For streets that run east/west, the dividing line is Garrison Street, with block numbers increasing as the road leads away from Garrison Street in either direction.
|City Courthouse||250 West College Street|
|City Hall||1000 South West Street|
|Fire Department||200 South Garrison Street|
|Miskatonic Regional Medical Center||850 South West Street|
|Miskatonic University||450 West Church Street|
|Police Station||201 South Peabody Avenue|
|U.S. Post Office||1012 West Church Street|
|Arkham Bridal Boutique||302 West River Street||11am – 10pm|
|Giovanni’s Clothing for Men||780 North West Street||10am – 9pm|
|Hans Yodin, Master Cobbler||215 North Fishe Street||9am – 10pm|
|Miss Ann’s Fashions for Ladies||319 West Church Street||9am – 9pm|
|V. Carrington, Expert Milliner||707 West Main Street||9am – 9pm|
|Watkins’ Formal Wear||242 West River Street||9am – 9pm|
|Arkham Fish Market||362 West Derby Street||Always Open|
|Barlow’s Butcher Shop||461 West Church Street||9am – 10pm|
|Black Dahlia Jazz Club||279 North Jenkin Street|
|The Blue Ballroom||719 West Washington Street||8pm – 4am|
|The Cat and Fiddle Pub||224 East Derby Street||11am – Midnight|
|Dover’s Groceries||577 West Church Street||6am – 10pm|
|Arkham Leatherworks||486 West College Street||Noon – Midnight|
|Arkham Medical Supplies||494 East Derby Street||9am – 10pm|
|Burns Agricultural Goods||843 West Main Street||6am – Midnight|
|Carla’s Collectibles||673 South West Street||6am – 7pm|
|Charles Browning – Master Gun Smith||650 South Garrison Street||9am – Midnight|
|Clarke and Sons Quality Furniture||215 West Hyde Street||8am – 10pm|
|Eddie’s Bike Emporium||690 South Peabody Street||8am – 7pm|
|Garrick’s Knick-knacks||245 West Crane Street||Always Open|
|Jamison’s Hunting Supplies||867 South Boundary Street||8am – 7pm|
|Janson Family Hardware and Supplies||242 West Derby Street||8am – 10pm|
|Harold Wingham – Master Shipwright||132 South French Hill Street||10am – 8pm|
|Heaple’s Toys and Games||485 West Washington Street||10am – 7pm|
|Margaret’s Curio Shop||394 West Curwen Street||9am – 10pm|
|Marvin’s Tattoo Parlor||203 North Fishe Street||Always Open|
|McHugh’s Antiques||898 West Church Street||Always Open|
|McNally Motor Vehicles||412 South Peabody Street||8am – 7pm|
|Peabody Pets||218 South Peabody Avenue||Always Open|
|Prentice’s Books and Tomes||656 West Derby Street||8am – 7pm|
|Prescott’s Gem Shop||207 East Washington Street||7am – 8pm|
|Prince’s Jewelry Galleria||490 West River Street||9am – 6pm|
|Salter’s Antiques||760 West Derby Street||8am – 10pm|
|Strausberg’s Fine Tobacco Shop||295 West Armitage Street||8am – 11pm|
|Zimmerman Luggage Shop||373 West Armitage Street||8am – 10pm|
Houses of Worship
|Asbury Methodist-Episcopal Church||401 South Boundary Street|
|The Convent of St. Teresa||1472 South West Street|
|First Baptist Church of Arkham||207 East Church Street|
|Miskatonic Synagogue||247 West Church Street|
|St. Genisius’ Basilica||700 South Parsonage Street|
|St. Stanislaus’ Church||600 East Derby Street|
|St. Toad’s Mission||362 North Federal Street|
|First Bank of Arkham||425 East College Street|
|Second Bank of Arkham||450 West Church Street (inside M.U.)|
|Dombrowski’s Boarding House||667 East Pickman Street|
|The Grand Hotel of Arkham||452 North Jenkin Street|
|Miskatonic Hotel||742 West Pickman Street|
|Arkham Municipal Park||1200 South Garrison Street|
|Assyrian Gardens||643 South Powder Mill Street|
|Olde Towne Cemetery||431 East Lich Street|
|Arkham Community Theatre||396 North Garrison Street|
|The Arkham Historical Society||759 West Church Street|
|Arkham Home for the Elderly||359 East Derby Street|
|Arkham Institute of Art||869 West Washington Street|
|Arkham Museum of History||550 West College Street|
|Arkham Observatory||268 West Miskatonic Avenue|
|The Arkham Observer||209 East College Street|
|Arkham Passenger Docks||800 South French Hill Street|
|Arkham Pugilists’ Club||723 North West Street|
|Arkham Society of Skeptical Minds||332 West College Street|
|Arkham Town Auction Hall||193 South Bad Water Road|
|Arkham Train Station||400 West Armitage Street|
|Mortis & Carver, Undertakers||647 East Lich Street|
|Old Guild Hall||339 West Main Street|
|Pearson and Sons’ Christmas Grotto||523 North Garrison Street|
|WHPL Arkham Radio||722 North Peabody Avenue|