Monday, June 2, 2014

The City on a Waterfall

The concept of a city built on a waterfall was first brought to my attention by James Gurney's Waterfall City (pictured above) in Dinotopia, published in 1992.  But while the aesthetic appeal of such a city is quite obvious to me - in spite of its equally obvious impracticality - I realized one day that this is by no means the only fictional city built on a waterfall.  Did a number of minds simultaneously come up with this same idea?  Or does it have a single point of origin?

As one blogger points out, Waterfall City bears a certain resemblance to the city of Theed on the planet of Naboo (seen below) in Star Wars: Episode I, which was released in 1999.

In 1999 the British band Ozric Tentacles released an album titled Waterfall Cities; clearly the idea was moving into wide circulation.  But where did it begin?

A quick search of the internet is daunting.  The concept has become so popular in fantasy literature and art that one has trouble isolating a few key instances of it among reams of fan art (seen above and below).

Did James Gurney really conceive this idea, the otherworldly idea of balancing that height of human civilization, a city, on that most terrible of natural objects, a waterfall?  It seems unlikely to me that it took so long for someone to dream up such a place.  And yet, it seems he did...

If you know anything about the origin of waterfall cities, please, share!

None of today's images are used with permission or anything so fancy.  But if you do a quick image search for "waterfall city" you should turn them all up.