New Shanghai is a polyglot city, and almost any language that survived the Fall can be heard here if one waits long enough. The most spoken languages are English, Mandarin, Wu, and Arabic, with substantial populations also speaking Hindi, Urdu, and Portuguese.
New Shanghai proper, along with Little Shanghai and Valles Center, stands on a high bluff overlooking the meeting of two rivers, the Xi and Monongahela, where they merge into a third, the Nanjing. All three are shallow, with slow currents, and they run at the bottom of deep cuts crisscrossing the chaotic terrain of the mesa. Across the rivers, at slightly higher and lower elevations to the east and north, respectively, rise the domes of New Pittsburgh and Nytrondheim. The domes are linked by massive transit conduits carrying highways and commuter trains (the Valles-New Shanghai Transit Maglev, or just “vi”). Above them are fyways demarcated by massive beacons on tall aerial spars hundreds of meters high.
From the periphery of the domes to the river banks spread the maze-like souks, a dense network of covered walkways, arcades, streets, and tramways connecting myriad pressurized buildings ranging in size from arcologies to the dilapidated tin can modules of the slums. Most Martian cities have souks, but Valles-New Shanghai’s are the archetype. Almost all buildings have black or darkly colored roofs to capture heat from the weak Martian sun. At night they are lit with a riot of glowstrips and, when one comes closer, AR graphics, either displaying advertisements or marking landing pads for small aircraft. Inside the souks, the arcades are flled with a river of transhumanity day and night, and the aromas of cooking food, orbital hashish, and sex waft out from the open fronts of eateries, gambling dens, and brothels. It’s as if all the flth and glitter of the red-light district of Amsterdam, the hutongs of Beijing, the squats of Montreal and old Mumbai, and the bazaars of Marrakesh had all come together on one endlessly twisting byway.
Valles-New Shanghai grew from the colonization efforts of several major Earth power blocs, and the architecture and culture of the fve domes still refects this to some extent. Originally, of the three oldest settlements, New Shanghai was Chinese, Nytrondheim European, and New Pittsburgh American. Valles Center was a purely corporate enterprise, and Little Shanghai was built after the Fall.