Created By: Alkthash on August 11, 2010 Last Edited By: Arivne on July 24, 2017

Rising City

A city which is built up, not out.

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Normal urban planning would suggest that the typical growth pattern of a city would be outwards along a horizontal axis. Some cities however decide to eschew this approach and spread out on a vertical axis.

The reasons for this can vary a bit. Sometimes the city did spread out along the ground and still ran out of room, so buildings had to be built on top of buildings. Other times the city was built on top of an existing geographical structure like a mountain. Some just flat out invoke Rule of Cool and have the city be built in the form of a giant tower.

It is easy to determine social standing in a rising city via vertical Urban Segregation. The higher up one lives the more likely they are to be well off. Conversely the lower one lives the greater the likelihood that their home will range from slum to monster infest hell hole.


  • The city of Basel in Resonance of Fate is built into a giant air purification tower.
  • Tiphares in Battle Angel Alita first appears as a city floating in the sky above the scrapyard. It is actually connected by a tower to a space station in orbit.
  • Coruscant in Star Wars is an example of them just running out of room. After covering the whole planet in city, the only place left to build was on top of other buildings.
  • Gotham city in Batman Beyond to invoke a cyberpunk future aesthetic. - Zero-Context Example
  • The Tales Series loves this trope and a city such as this will appear frequently throughout the games. It will frequently be the capital of some country and have Urban Segregation via height.
    • The capital of Tethe'Alla (its name escapes me). - Zero-Context Example
    • Zaphias, the imperial capital from Tales of Vesperia. It seems to be the case of them building on top of a mountain. Also note Heliord Rising City and Tarquaron (which also doubles as a Floating Continent
    • Baticul from Tales of the Abyss. It was built over a crater left from a fonstone (read meteor) impact. Cable cars and elevators are commonly used to get around the city.

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Community Feedback Replies: 23
  • August 11, 2010
    There's no trope for this already? Wow. An example I know off is Futurama, which has the mutant city in New York's sewers, not exactly this, but gives a similar feel. I think there's also something like this in a Donald Duck/Uncle Scrooge comic, but I'm not sure about details.
  • August 11, 2010
    In Futurama New New York is built on the ruins of Old New York.

    Real life: New York is an example of this due to running out of space on the island it covers.
  • August 11, 2010
    Parts of Seattle are built on top of Old Seattle, which is now a tourist attraction.
  • August 12, 2010
    Kaineng City in Guild Wars has layers and layers of buildings, even including one zone directly on top of another.
  • August 12, 2010
    We never see what's down below, but on The Jetsons everything is built up high in the sky, on top of very thin (at least by comparison) pedastals.
  • August 15, 2010
  • August 15, 2010
    Fritz Lang's Metropolis is a classic example, with workers living underground and the rich up top.
  • September 22, 2010
  • September 22, 2010
    In the video game Slave Zero, Megacity S1-9 is build over the ruins of Bejing.
  • September 24, 2010
    Tokyo-3 in Neon Genesis Evangelion is built on Tokyo. In the daytime, the city is above ground for convenience, and at night it sinks below the Earth's surface for protection against Angels. Due to rising water levels and the fact that it's built into the ground it can't expand any further, making most of the buildings tall high-rises.
  • September 24, 2010
    Unknown Troper
    Mugenjou in Get Backers.
  • October 16, 2010
    The trope description looks fine.

    ^^ No, Tokyo-3 is built in the location of old Hakone; there is no mention of a city in the Evangelion universe that fits this trope.
  • March 4, 2011
    Would these fit?

    Real Life:

    • Also from Star Wars, Bespin City. The Administrators and their guests reside in the towers above the main city.


    Web Comics
  • May 21, 2011
    I had a YKTTW going a while ago called Sky Scraping City, which had a few examples added to it. Tried to find it, and it's not in my YKTTW watchlist, or my Launched list, and the page that search brings up is gibberish. Soooo no idea what's going on there.
  • May 21, 2011
    I imagine there are quite a few from fantasy tales (mostly Middle-Earth) or war epics where city walls, ramparts, or moats provide the necessary constraint; or where airborne threats such as dragons or dirigibles are the impetus.

    • Teppelin from Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, which is appropriately shaped. That the humans start from underground adds to the classism.
    • Midgar from Final Fantasy VII, though likely more for visual effect and plot dressing, to set it apart from the less industrial cities.
  • May 22, 2011
  • July 1, 2017
    Would the title city from Atlantis The Lost Empire count?
  • July 2, 2017
    This proposal is suffering from a TLP bug that prevents edits from showing up in the display.

    • Examples section
      • Added a line separating the Description and Examples section.
      • Namespaced work names.
      • Italicized work names as per How To Write An Example - Emphasis For Work Names.
      • Capitalized (Gotham city).
      • Corrected spelling (asthetic, hieght, it's name -> its).

    Zero Context Examples have been marked as such. They need more information to show how they fit the trope. Please don't remove the marking unless you add enough context.
  • July 15, 2017
    I know I've seen a ton before.

    I would assume this would count cliff-cities (where they all stick out sideways from a cliff, so you have to go down/up to get to other building lower/higher on the cliff)?
  • July 16, 2017
    Fixed the problem that prevented editing. Apparently, under the current version of TLP it is required that a proposal have a Laconic or it can't be edited.
  • July 16, 2017
    • In The Eighties, Springbok had a puzzle titled Verticalville which depicted a city with skyscrapers build on top of each other. The puzzle had a sequel called Verticalville 2 which depicted a similar city. The main difference between the two is that the first has a rather classical art style while the second is more cartoonish.
  • July 16, 2017
    Adding onto the Star Wars example. The Expanded Universe (both current and Legends) also feature Nar Shaddaa, which is like Courscant, but it's more of a Wretched Hive (since it's the moon for Nal Hutta, the captial of Hutt Space). It was also nicknamed "Vertical City"
  • July 24, 2017
    Very common in the Honorverse novels, thanks to counter-grav.

    The Cityborn, by Edward Willett: the City is a huge tower with thirteen tiers. For the most part, the higher in the City you live the better your life is. (The City's Hellhole Prison is on Tier 10, dividing the common folk from the Officers who live on 11 and 12 and the Captain on 13.)