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Layered Metropolis

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The Wretched Hive below does no justice to the view from the window of your Mega-Corp Star Scraper? No problem. Cover it up.

"There ain't a side of the tracks more wrong than 'under' 'em."
Augustus Sinclair, BioShock 2

The natural extreme of the Skyscraper City, making it even more enormous and overbuilt. A Skyscraper City is when the city seems to consist entirely of skyscrapers that rival the construction of Dubai (and then some) but the Layered Metropolis is when the city planners went even further by adding more streets, and even buildings, very far (or sometimes not that far) above the city. This tends to go hand in hand with Under City and Absurdly-Spacious Sewer, due to both the aesthetic and to large sewer systems being a relatively intuitive way of adding a lower layer to a city.

Maybe they realized how inconvenient it might be to take an elevator down a hundred stories or so, cross the street, then go back up the other building's elevator. Or they might have been worried about wiring, plumbing, or public transportation. Exactly how people take the car to these levels or get plumbing that high up will almost never be addressed, and similar questions as those raised by the Skyscraper City are also rarely addressed — such as the population needed, the construction methods, or how any of this is structurally sound.

Predictably, there will be Urban Segregation where the rich will always be a majority on the top, and the lower classes will have the bottom. Which presents an intriguing dichotomy as one neighbourhood becomes slowly and literally overshadowed by another level, and thus more unfashionable. Similar to the Skyscraper City, if the issue of population is brought up, it will usually be in a dystopian setting where overpopulation plagues the planet or at least big cities.

It is also a sub-trope of Skyscraper City, making it a sub-subtrope to Mega City. It fits very well in Cyber Punk settings. The Hive City will often be portrayed as having this kind of layering as well. Compare City Planet (which lends itself more to this than the Skyscraper City), Star Scraper, and Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale. Has surprisingly little to do with Layered World.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Battle Angel Alita: Tiphares is home to the privileged few, who live in a gilded city suspended over the Scrapyard, a slum where workers live amongst trash that the Tiphareans toss down to the surface. Later, it's revealed that an even MORE privileged city called Ketheres exists above Tiphares in low Earth orbit, at the other end of the space elevator that Tiphares hangs from.
  • Girls' Last Tour: The dead world is made up of several massive layered cities, literal concrete jungles, and city-sized industrial centers, all of it nearly devoid of life in the wake of some unspecified disaster. Tsukumizu has implied that this world was built on the ruins of a previous civilization that suffered its own apocalypse before this one.
  • Metropolis (2001): Beneath Metropolis lies Zone 1 (where people unemployed by the robots live), Zone 2 (the power-plant area) and Zone 3 (the sewage-handling facility).
  • Tiger & Bunny: Sternbild City is divided into five levels, counting the ground. It's also a decidedly non-grimdark example in that while it has several characteristics that would be required of a Cypherpunk example, such as having corrupt officials, Mega-Corp running rampant, and advanced technology, it is an idealistic show. So Sternbild's slight Bizarrchitecture is played for awesome.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V: The Synchro Dimension's City (called New Domino City in the dub) features two main layers in its infrastructure, reflecting its Fantastic Caste System. The upper layer is basically a series of massive platforms with skyscrapers on them, all with different heights and connected via highway bridges, known as the Top's residential area. The ground level is the Common's slums, which while they do have plenty of access to sunlight, they can't turn their heads up without looking at the glamor of the Tops. It's also prohibited to the Commons to enter any area designated for the Tops, which almost gets Yuzu and Yugo arrested when they teleport to the Synchro Dimension.

    Asian Animation 
  • Ling Long Incarnation: The Lighthouse is an airborne city with multiple levels, so they don't exactly have much room to build upon it. Instead the Lowborn built their shacks dangling from it and connected them to each other with wire and rope, like this.

    Card Games 
  • Magic: The Gathering: Ravnica. The entire plane is a metropolis, built up over thousands of years. As older buildings collapsed, newer ones were built on top of them. The lower levels became the "Undercity," an area of ill repute that now mostly serves as the upper city's sewers where it isn't overgrown ruins. Still, the city grows and expands. There aren't even proper natural features anymore, the lands typical to Magic are only there in spirit, each represented by different architectural features.
    • New Capenna. The one remaining city is divided into three layers: the working-class industrial Caldaia at the bottom, the bustling, central Mezzio in the middle, and the upper-class, relatively quiet Park Heights at the top.

    Comic Books 
  • Avengers Forever (2021): The Shi'ar Throneworld is protrayed like this in Vibranium Man's reality. In an inversion of how the Urban Segregation usually goes, it's the poor who live in the upper stories, connected by rickety walkways, and the rich who live safely on the ground.
  • Batman: Gotham was generally portrayed this way prior to Flashpoint, with a few multi-level streets, bridges, and sidewalks, and the subway having stations on various levels above and below ground. There's also always at least a small destitute community in Gotham's unintended Under City as well.
  • Finder: Anvard is a relatively pleasant example of this. Although there are some rough neighborhoods, nowhere seems to be absolutely hellish.
  • Marvel 2099: Nuevea York. Street level is a Wretched Hive known as Downtown. Employees of the various Mega Corps live in vast skyscrapers, travel by Flying Car, and never go near Downtown unless they have to. And there's no reason they'd have to, except perhaps to find experimental "volunteers".
  • Star Wars: Doctor Aphra: Milvayne City is arranged into two layers. The topmost consists of the higher reaches of its skyscrapers and is home to the city's formal society. The ground level far below is the upper city's dumping ground and is thus a polluted urban wasteland covered in garbage and home to the city's disposed and exiled.

  • A Dragon in Shining Armour and its sequel Holy War have a couple of these. The Sky Colonies are a group of floating cities home to angel Digimon and the main city of Lambent has three layers. Homes and businesses are on the lowest layer while government, military, and religious functions are spread out across the upper two. The forest city of Evergrowth has a similar layout, with the local insect Digimon living in houses on the forest floor and working and doing business in the Tree Top Town above.
  • Star Wars Vs Warhammer 40 K: The Core World of Axum is an ecumenopolis similar to Coruscant with several layers stacked on top of one another. Each layer is built around a series of massive columns/towers referred to as the Axumite Spires.
  • Sunshine and Fire: Trottingham in Sunshine!Equestria. The top layer, built on the limestone pillars holding up the city’s dome, is home to the unicorns and pegasi. On the ground below there is the crowded, dirty shantytown where the earth ponies live. Below that, unknown to the upper crust, there is a network of tunnels and abandoned mines where La Résistance hides out.
  • There is long-running Fanon that's used in quite a few Fanfics that The Jetsons and The Flintstones takes place in this type of setting with the rich, technologically-advanced world of the Jetsons taking placed above in buildings on stilts above the smog-covered, primitive world of the Flintstones.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Dark Knight Trilogy: The city of Gotham is at least two levels due to using Chicago's multi-leveled streets for filming.
  • The Fifth Element: New York is still in the Skyscraper City stage, but it's clearly evolving layers with its multiple above-ground walkways.
  • Metropolis: The "workers' city" may have been at what was once ground level or literally dug underground, but either way it's completely covered by the "surface" of the city above, accessible only by elevator. As with Skyscraper City, this would make it the Trope Maker.
  • Star Wars:
    • Coruscant is covered in skyscrapers, which are also covered in skyscrapers, which are covered in more skyscrapers, which goes on for long enough that the skyscrapers dwarf the natural features of the planet (the only part of the original surface that is sill visible is the top thirty feet or so of it's tallest mountain). And some of the skyscrapers that were built on are actually construction droids for building more skyscrapers. The shiny tops of the skyscrapers are home to senators, rich people, and the rest of the upper class. Below them, there are the middle-class districts, where light starts getting a bit occluded and resources more rationed. Below those are progressively darker and less-policed lower layers, which become more and more disreputable, unlawful, and infested with crime, gigantic mutant rats, escaped monsters from the interstellar pet trade, and eyeless mutants until you reach the planet's surface, which is so polluted as to be flat-out unlivable.
    • Star Wars Legends has this as a common structure for many city-planets. Another good example was Taris, with nobility and upper class on the top levels, the middle class at the mid-level, the Lower City run by rival criminal gangs, and the Undercity... rakghouls everywhere with a few straggling survivors of exiled residents and their descendants.
  • Total Recall (2012): The cities follow this trope, crossing with a bit of Bizarrchitecture. London uses a more conventional approach with flat, layered roads, and actually addresses how cars get between the levels — the hover cars use magnetic "elevators" to get between levels, while standard wheeled vehicles stay at ground level.

  • In Animorphs, the team and Erek are brought to the City of Beauty on the Iskoort home world. It's a bizarrely colorful series of layers which each serves a different function, though there doesn't seem to be much reasoning in their arrangement or even how far apart each story is from the ones above and below. The team spend a lot of time walking up and down stairs, and are annoyed near the end of the book when their guide, Guide, reveals that they also have elevators. (He figured, wrongly, that they'd prefer the scenic route.)
  • Isaac Asimov:
  • The Book of Dragons: In "Cut Me Another Quill Mister Fitz", the city of Nikandros is built atop an arrowhead-shaped promontory and arranged into layers by altitude. The Archon's citadel sits at the top, surrounded by the Upper Third (actually less than a quarter of the city's overall size) where the city's upper-class lives. A wall separates the Upper Third from the Middle Third where the rest of the general population lives, which is itself terraced into five tiers. Below that and past a large crevasse, the Lower Third sprawls around the promontory's base and consists of great complexes of forges, foundries, and metalworking shops that form the backbone of the city's industry.
  • The Corsay Books: Trowth started when one noble family built a tall, spindly tower with a view of the river, which offended another noble family who made a squat ugly tower in front of the tall spindly tower as an insult. It escalated into war until a new front opened up when one architect built bridges over a major thoroughfare that went through his property. Soon, people started building on top of the bridges, leading Trowth to become a massive, towering, constantly constructed city.
  • Cylinder Van Troffa: The Framing Device is archeologists uncovering one where buildings have been built upon cement-filled buildings.
  • Discworld: Ankh-Morpork is a city built on a foundation of mud and silt, which means it's constantly, gradually sinking. As the old city gets buried, the new city gets built on top, leading to entire buildings and even streets being preserved beneath the earth. The city's resident dwarves make good use of all the available space. It's said that, traveling underground, one can reach anywhere in Ankh-Morpork as long as they have a hammer (to knock down walls) and a good sense of direction (to walk in a straight line), and the ability to breathe mud.
  • Gor: Most major city-states are filled with towering "cylinders", with narrow unrailed bridges between them to go from cylinder to cylinder without having to descend to street level first.
  • The Lord of the Rings: Minas Tirith has seven levels, with a stone promontory jutting out from the topmost to overtake the rest of the city. It was built this way to be extremely defensible, with multiple lines of defense — it originated as a fortress first and foremost, before the old Gondorian capital fell and the kings had to relocate.
    • Bored of the Rings parodies Minas Tirith with Minas Troney, which was built on seven levels for no better reason than its builder having water on the brain, in a shape similar to that of an Italian wedding cake. The Urban Segregation resulting from this design is Played for Laughs.
  • Mortal Engines: London has become this thanks to the great engineer Quirke, who transformed it into the world's first mobile city. The 7th tier houses the engine district, while St Paul's Cathedral sits on the uppermost tier. We see more and more Traction Cities in the later books of the series, and they all make use of this trope — the number of layers a city has also shows its overall wealth and power. Only the smallest, poorest towns have a single deck. This goes hand-in-hand with Urban Segregation in this setting; upper city tiers are home to the wealthy and the ruling classes, while lower ones become progressively dirtier and more ramshackle and are home to the worker classes.
  • Titan's Forest: Even outside of the setting's Layered World proper, Canopy serves as an arboreal version of this. The gods and their servants live in the emergent trees that tower above the city, with the citizens and wealthier classes immediately below them in the upper canopy. The poor and the slaves live in the city's lowest stratum, where light already begins to be occluded by the thick growth above and the locals can expect to be literally shat upon by people living further up. However, the lower layer is actually safer to walk around alone in — since nobody has anything worth stealing, there's not much crime.

    Live Action TV 

    Tabletop Games 
  • The Dark Eye: The city of Fasar is a medieval version of this, with the fortified towers of the rich and powerful linked by a network of narrow bridges so their owners won't have to mingle with the common rabble below.
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • Eberron: Because the city of Sharn sits in a Manifest Zone that enhances anti-gravity magic, its towers have been built to incredible heights and cross-connected at various levels. The towers are tall enough that neighborhoods are defined by their vertical position in addition to their horizontal one, and the higher ones goes the more prestigious and expensive they become. Just to make sure the rich really do stay on top, the very wealthiest live in a floating neighborhood above the towers.
    • Forgotten Realms: Elminster's Ecologies mentions a communal tower that had been built near the city of Suzail, which resembled twenty brick houses piled on top of each other and was home to multiple inhabitants. The lower quarters were home to the laborers and commoners, while the upper ones, closer to the gods, were reserved for the merchants and other important folk. The whole thing apparently worked well enough for a while, until it was knocked down during a storm.
  • Exalted:
    • During the High First Age, when the Solar Exalted ruled the world, their capital city of Meru was built so that the administrative districts, temple, and the mansions of the Solars were built on the sides of the immense mountain whose name it shared, while the living quarters of the servants and the thousands of mortal citizens were housed within a maze of tunnels beneath its surface. However, these underground quarters were spacious, well-lit and by and large nice places to live — they're a lightless warren infested with horrors now, but that's because of the city's cataclysmic destruction and the millennia of decay since then.
    • Likewise in the First Age, the people of the flying city of Tzatli were divided between the layers of its great towers. The upper stories were reserved for the Solars who ruled the city, while the middle layer was home to their Dragon-Blooded soldiers and bureaucrats. The mortal citizens were confined to the lowest stories.
    • Mount Kahikatea, another First Age city, was built on top of a mountain-sized tangle of living trees and consisted of two distinct layers. The topmost consisted of the grand wooden palaces and buildings inhabited by the Exalted themselves, while a maze of tunnels and chambers snaking throughout the thick canopy beneath it was home to the mortal servants who attended the Exalted and maintained the city. It was fairly common for the servants to go so long away from the sun that their children tended to become extremely sensitive to direct sunlight, although medical procedures usually corrected this.
    • Gethamane, a city built within a mostly hollowed-out mountain, is divided into five layers — the Temple District at the top, the Upper Ring beneath it, the mercantile Guild District in the middle, then the Outer Ring housing the larger portion of the city's population, and finally the Garden District housing the mushroom farms that keep Gethamane fed. Beneath this is a trackless labyrinth of tunnels crawling with horrible things and connecting to cavern systems extending throughout the depths of Creation. Unlike what one would expect, the desirability of each district increases as you head down, due to the cultural value placed on the food production that keeps the city fed and that makes up the tithes that keep the subterranean horrors away. The vital Garden District is the most prestigious neighborhood in the city and where most wealthy residents live, the Outer Ring houses the city's middle class, and only the poor share the Upper Ring with the city's livestock.
    • Wu-Jian is built on a small oceanic island where space is at a premium, forcing its residents to build up when they wish to expand. Over centuries of this practice, the city's become a teetering mass of architecture divided between the Heights, where access to sunlight and fresh air are welcome enough to make them the most desired neighborhood despite their tendency to sway severely in the wind; the Shades below them, densely crowded and home to most of the city's workers and illicit trades; and Mud at the very bottom, constantly flooded with stagnant ocean water, piles of jetsam and sewage from above, mostly home to scavengers who pick through the wreckage for valuables, rice and mollusk farmers, and people wishing to hide where they won't be found.
    • It's also a common structure for the Alchemical cities of Autochthonia.
    • Malfeas, the Demon City, is described as consisting of innumerable layers that generally float separately from one another (although they're connected in places by certain roads made from the voice of a powerful demon). In his rage and frustration, Malfeas has a tendency to crash his layers into one another; they'll often be merged together by this process.
  • Mechanical Dream: Cities are built in layers of platforms among the branches of the world's immense trees; the further up a platform, the safer it is from the dangers of the forest floor. The people on the lowest layers or on the ground lead precarious, medieval lifestyles; further up are Renaissance-like and then industrial areas, while those at the top enjoy advanced, modern culture and technology and effectively rule the world.
  • Numenera:
    • Many of Qi's central-most sections lie on multiple levels, with decorative bridges and raised walkways connecting the higher levels and bright glowglobes illuminating the lower so that each level is equally lit.
    • Nihliesh was built upon the hulk of an immense, mostly broken-down machine, and has three tiers: the first and lowest is the machine originally discovered by the founders, where workers maintain it; the second consists of the squat, crowded original buildings erected atop the machine where the lowest caste live, now completely buried by further growth; and the third, home to the wealthy, consists of the elegant, artistic buildings that Nihliesh is best known for. The bottom and top layers are the most desirable — life in the bottom one is hazardous but comes with the prestige of operating the machines that power and maintain the city, while the rich and powerful live in the spires — while the people of the middle layer form the city's lowest caste.
    • Ephremon occupies many levels of the forest, from cavelike dwellings among the tree roots to nest-styled homes in the highest canopies. A complicated system of risers, ladders, and swings allows access to every level of the city.
  • Pathfinder: Korvosa is a bit of an odd example, as its slums — the Shingles — are above the nice districts. The Shingles were born when many of the city's poor were left homeless by urban renovation and new zoning laws, forcing them to move into already crowded older districts of the city. Lacking space, many settled on top of preexisting buildings, eventually creating a shantytown of rooftop shacks and makeshift new upper floors connected by a maze of catwalks and rope bridges and often several layers deep. The Shingles extend over large parts of Korvosa, are home to much of the city's poor, beggars and criminals, are infested with minor monsters and are the reason most of Korvosa's populace avoids going above the second story of buildings in several of the city's districts.
  • Pokémon Tabletop Adventures: The Babel campaign setting from the Sci-Fi-focused Do Porygon Dream of Mareep? splatbook centers around Heizhou, a cyberpunk metropolis consisting of skyscraper arcologies which reach high into the clouds and are connected to one another by commercial skybridges. Naturally, where you live is tied to your status: the richest and most affluent live in penthouse apartments which literally let them look down on the clouds, while the poorest live at or below ground level.
  • SLA Industries: Mort Central, the setting of most campaigns, actually manages to hold three varieties. First, the city is built on top of the ruins of a previous city that is now mostly underground, which the citizens of Mort don't like to talk about. Understandable, given that it's full of decaying infrastructure, carnivorous pigs, carriens, human psychopaths, and horrifying monsters, men in Powered Armor, terrorists, and things that the standard police rifle is less effective against than a BB gun... because, ironically enough, it IS a gauss BB gun. Second, there's Downtown, a warren of walkways, streets, and buildings extending deep underground that's similar to the Kowloon Walled City. Third, there's also several skyways full of shops high above the urban sprawl of the city.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • Hive Cities, which have been varyingly described as mountains hollowed out to make room for entire cities, or in cases such as Necromunda, overpopulated and horrifically violent kilometer-high skyscraper arcologies the size of cities, or just as cities so mind-bogglingly ancient that millennia of growth and construction of new buildings has progressively buried the old parts of the cities under layers and layers of urban growth. The upper parts of these cities, clean and crime-free and above the smog layers, are home to the Hive Cities' ruling classes. As one goes down, the lack of light, lack of utilities, and increasing amounts of sewage and refuse leaking down from above make things progressively more squalid, through the filthy, crime-ridden Underhive, and at the bottom of it all the Sump, a multicolored lake of accumulated waste and toxic runoff, left to mix and fester for thousands of years.
    • Dark Heresy: The cities of Vouxis Prime are a somewhat unusual case. Technically a Hive World, the planet's cities were dug underground to escape a war between two alien forces that devastated the surface. A caste system formed where the most talented architects and stonemasons, who were vital to the new order's continued functionality, formed a new social elite. In the present day, the planet's architect-nobles live in the very lowest depths of the underground cities, kilometers down, among ornate mansions and lavishly carved grottos. The upper levels grow progressively more utilitarian until one reaches the surface, where the poorest live in continent-spanning shantytowns of one- and two-story shacks amidst the sterile deserts that now cover the planet.
  • Warhammer: Age of Sigmar:
    • The city of Brightspear has built a giant rotating disc upon which the Upper City is built. The Lower Tier is under the disc and is permanently under the shadow of the Upper City both literally and figuratively. In addition to the perpetual lack of direct sunlight, they also have to deal with the perpetual grinding sound of the disc holding the Upper Tier rotating.
    • The city of Colonnade is built on a giant granite disc on top of several hundred feet tall pillars. On top of the disc is "The Above" which is layered into terraces that get higher as you come close to the Castle of the Diamond Spire in which the Lord of the city live. However, only the richest and the nobility live in the Above. The rest live in "The Beneath" which is hung from the main platform by chains. Closer these are to the Above better the quality of life thus further dividing the Beneath into "Short Chain" and "Long Chain" based on the length of the chains hanging them. While the short chain is decent life in the long chain is completely miserable.

    Theme Parks 
  • Walt Disney's original concept for his Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow (when it was a planned community and only a small portion of his Disney World vision), featured a radially-structured, multi-tiered city with shopping, tourist, industrial, business and residential districts on the top, service areas in the middle and automotive throughways on the bottom. Obviously, the EPCOT that would open twenty years later bore little resemblance to Walt's vision.

    Video Games 
  • 80 Days has the city of Agra be an example of this. It's also a walking city that prowls the Indian subcontinent. On top, it looks like what the Real Life Agra must have looked like in the 19th century. You may end up seeing the other layers which are full of Steampunk machinery that keeps the city running and thousands of workers maintaining it.
  • Beneath a Steel Sky and its sequel Beyond A Steel Sky have it the opposite way. Upper levels for the poor and for industry, bottom level for the rich and privileged.
  • Binary Domain: Tokyo has been made into one. It actually does address why this happened (global warming) and it is probably the only example with a giant sewer tower meant to help with the plumbing of the upper city.
  • BlazBlue: The Hierarchical Cities, with the NOL's cathedral-like offices at the very top, all the way down to unfortunates with high Seither tolerance, such as the Kaka Clan and Arakune at the very bottom.
  • Dark Souls has many examples of this type of design, fitting with the Bizarrchitecture that the series is known for.
    • In Dark Souls, Lordran is built this way, with Anor Londo (the city of the Gods) at the very top. Going down we get; Sen's Fortress, the Undead Parish/Undead Burg, then the Depths, then Blighttown, then the Great Swamp. At this point, it diverges and goes down to Ash Lake on one branch (which is also the support structure for the whole world thanks to the Archtrees holding the "ground" up), and the Demon Ruins and Lost Izalith on the other branch. New Londo is on the same strata as Blighttown, the Darkroot Garden/Basin are on roughly the same strata as the Undead Parish and the Undead Burg, and the Catacombs/Tomb of the Giants are on the same strata as the Demon Ruins. The Painted World Of Ariamis and the Undead Asylum avert this as the latter is located far from Lordran and the former is contained within an enchanted painting in Anor Londo.
    • Dark Souls III:
      • Lothric has this, with the Grand Archives located at the very top, followed downward by Lothric Castle, the High Wall of Lothric, the Undead Settlement, The Road of Sacrifices, Farron Keep, and then the Catacombs of Carthus. After the Catacombs the path branches, with one branch continuing further down into the Smouldering Lake and the Demon Ruins after it, while another continues upward to Irithyll of the Boreal Valley and then either upwards more to the ruins of Anor Londo or further downwards into the Irithyll Dungeon and then the Profaned Capitol. The Very Definitely Final Dungeon The Kiln of the First Flame is entirely removed from the rest of the areas in the game, as is Archdragon Peak, averting this trope.
      • Both DLC areas for the game also use this, with the Painted World Of Ariandel from Ashes Of Ariandel having the Church at the top, followed downward to the Corvian Settlement with the Snowfields on the same level, and then downward again to the Champion's Graveyard and the ruins of Priscilla's boss arena from the original Painted World Of Ariamis. The Ringed City starts at Dreg Heap, which is on the level of the main game's Very Definitely Final Dungeon, and then goes downward until reaching The remains of Firelink Shrine from the first game which serve's as the Demon Prince's Boss arena. After that, you get taken further down into the Ringed City itself, which has you travel down into the Abyssal Swamp in order to reach the Church of Filianore, or go downward some more to reach the boss arena for Darkeater Midir which may also serve as the origin point of the First Flame. After waking Filianore up, time catches up with the City and the area you were in (which was suspended in the air by a considerable height) suddenly is at ground level and forms the arena for the Final Boss.
  • Deus Ex Universe:
    • Deus Ex: Human Revolution: Hengsha has been described as "a true urban planning nightmare that would make an oil rig look like the Taj Mahal by comparison." The bottom is dark and full of squat, ugly, blockish buildings and neon that simultaneously look both planned and unplanned and there are also streets above the streets there. The Upper City bears an odd resemblance to The Ark of Brink!. It is the complete opposite of the Lower City, with every bit of ground not occupied by enormous skyscrapers occupied by parks. However, unlike a typical example, there's little segregation between the poor and the wealthy. Most people work in the Upper City and go down to the Lower City to bars and clubs. Additionally, while the extremely wealthy may live in the Upper City and the Lower City is home to the Alice Garden Podsnote  the Lower City is still home to plenty of nice places to live.
    • Deus Ex: Invisible War also has more than a few, including Seattle and Cairo. Unlike in Human Revolution, the upper and lower levels are more rigidly divided along class lines.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Final Fantasy VII:
      • Midgar. In all sectors (numbered 0-8), an upper plate separates the ground-level slums from the other districts. This plate also blocks sunlight (what little there is of it) from trickling down into the slums. Agents from Shinra Inc. activate a support structure's Self-Destruct Mechanism between both layers of Sector 7, causing a section of the plate to come loose and crush everyone beneath before sending an earthquake relief force on the plate. Ironically, Reeve later moves the entire population of Midgar into the slums to protect them from METEOR. An additional secret level, only known as Deepground, is located below both Midgar and the Slums, only accessible via the Sector 0 reactor. (Dirge of Cerberus)
      • The military port city of Junon also has a small village under it, near the elevator to the city proper.
    • Final Fantasy XII's Rabanastre is divided into two halves following its occupation by Archadian forces. "Lowtown", as its name suggests, lies beneath the streets and comprises storerooms, now converted into residences. We see where the imperials got the idea when we visit Archades. The city overlooks the junk heap of a slum called "Old Archades", and the city proper is divided into ascending layers. The higher your home is, the more of a hotshot you are.
    • Final Fantasy XIII-2: Academia has multiple levels of streets and platforms to walk on. The different levels are connected by conveyor belts. The ground is not even visible.
  • Halo 2: New Mombasa was originally designed as an enormous structure shaped like a baobab tree stretching up into the clouds. Extruding from it are arms large and strong enough to hold several skyscrapers, streets, and even freeways, meant to show just how over-populated Earth has become. In the end, Bungie went for a more realistic angle with the space elevator.
  • Hard Reset: Bezoar City is a vast, towering Cyberpunk example of this. As Yahtzee pointed out: "There's one level where you're in a subway station and a few corridors later you're on a rooftop!" They did sort of hint at it with how tall Bezoar is implied to be, at certain points the wind whistles by fast enough to suggest you are a very... appreciable distance from the ground that you most definitely can't see. Yet, when you look up? There's still a lot more city to go.
  • League of Legends feature the sister city-states of Piltover and Zaun, though the typical geographical layout with this trope is inverted — Piltover (the top layer) rests on ground-level coasts, while Zaun (the bottom layer) is built on the sides of underground cliffs. While the two cities have a closely symbiotic relationship, Piltover is a thriving and clean Shining City with constant innovation in magic and science, while Zaun is its heavily industrial undercity where crime, pollution, and mad science run rampant.
  • The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel has a downplayed version of the trope with Roer Industrial City, which is a two-story city, but they're separated only by a short escalator ride. An NPC notes that layering the city allowed for twice as many buildings to be built in the same area of land.
  • The Longest Journey: Newport is one of these, with protagonist April Ryan unable to reach the glitzier upper levels of the city until she can have the proper permits falsified. The Propast district of Europolis, seen in the sequel Dreamfall Chapters, also has elements of this, with multiple levels even within the ground "floor".
  • Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door has Rogueport on the surface, but also Rogueport Sewers underground. As it seems, the modern Rogueport was built over some old ruins that had since been buried underground but is now inhabited by various people who want to keep a low profile. Oddly for this trope, the upper surface area is a Wretched Hive, ruled by violent gangs with everyone else caught in the middle, while the lower area has mostly decent, peaceful people for inhabitants, though shady folks are present down there too. The end of the game reveals a third city even further below containing the Palace of Shadow, among others, but the only inhabitants remaining here are servants of the Shadow Queen and the Shadow Queen herself.
  • Project Eden has the rich living at the top and the poor living below them. Things get worse the further down you go, the ground far below is home to mutants, cannibals, and scavenger tribes. Large numbers of buildings are abandoned and crumbling.
  • Splatoon: Inkopolis is a bustling Americasia metropolis that rests on top of Octo Valley/Canyon, a twisted mess of decaying underground domes and giant monitors showing pictures of skylines.
  • Streets of Rogue is set in a layered Wretched Hive of a city; the player has to ascend from floor to floor via elevators in order to eventually reach the Mayor at the top.
  • Thunder Force: Stage 3 of Thunder Force V, "Human Road", takes place in a multi-layered city.
  • Woodruff and the Schnibble of Azimuth has the great vertical city of Vlurxtrznbnaxl. The citizens live in different parts of the city according to their socioeconomic status: the poor live on the lower levels, the rich and powerful live on the higher levels.
  • Xenoblade Chronicles 1 has Alcamoth and the Frontier Village. The former is an advanced multi-level city that floats above the Eryth Sea, which is located atop the Bionis' head. However, the Frontier Village is a whopping 9-level monstrosity, connected by stairs and rope bridges, that's so big that you can literally fall to your death! The same is true, if you fall from the upper ring, or either of the observation decks, of Alcamoth.

    Web Animation 
  • Sherwood (2019): The Upper City where the wealthy and powerful live is a Ominous Floating City, while the poor scrape by in waterlogged slums below.
  • RWBY: The Kingdom of Atlas-Mantle is better known as the Kingdom of Atlas, a symptom of its inequality, and consists of two cities and three layers. Atlas is a technologically advanced floating city where the wealthy live in comfort; it contains open spaces, greenery, fertile agricultural land, and Hard Light shields to defend against the Creatures of Grimm and harsh environmental conditions alike. Mantle is a decaying, crowded urban sprawl trapped in the shadow of the "City of Dreams". Basic needs are overlooked, digital technology hasn't been updated for years, a broken perimeter wall fails to protect from the Grimm, and an outdated heating grid just barely holds back the harsh tundra weather. The Crater contains slums outside Mantle's walls where the Faunus are forced to live. It's a shanty town built in the giant hole created by Atlas's ascent and provides no Grimm protection. They're overshadowed by both cities.

  • The Cyantian Chronicles: Centralis consists of several large discs attached to a central "stem", the discs are capable of moving to prevent soil erosion or even detaching and flying off using Anti-Gravity.
  • Leve L: The titular (allegedly) Shining City; the highest of its nine "tiers" is built out of Hard Light.
  • A Miracle of Science: Mark Sachs states in the commentary on this page that he considered making a Venusian city into this kind of ultra-stratified city, but ultimately decided that it was just plain ridiculous.
  • Schlock Mercenary: All cities of Solar System, as explained in the commentary for this strip. 1 trillion people (not necessarily humans) inhabit the system, of those 200 billion live on Earth. Arcologies occupy only 10% of Earth land (and a bit of oceans), but they are several kilometers high and deep. Population density is measured in people per cubic rather than square kilometer. This is the 31st century, with cheap annihilation energy and superstrong construction materials.
  • In Sunset Grill most major cities are like this. The city of Kieselburg has the classic rich live on the top, poor live on the bottom Urban Segregation. It's got so many layers that neighborhoods are measured by how many tiers tall they are.

    Web Original 
  • Metamor City is built like a layer cake with four skyways suspended between the skyscrapers on top of one another. And the original Metamor Keep has practically evolved into an Arcology.
  • Skies Unbroken,: Since land is scarce at least some cities, like Gloria, are built that way, with docks and The City Narrows on lower levels and nice stuff upstairs, while the land around the city gets used for intensive farming.
  • Dynamo Dream: Many of Shade's neighborhoods, as seen from a passing train, consist of buildings on top of other buildings.

    Western Animation 
  • Futurama: New New York was built on top of the ruins of old New York. The original city is now basically a sewer, inhabited entirely by mutants.
  • Motorcity: The titular city is the grimy and gritty remains of old Detroit, with shiny and futuristic Detroit Deluxe constructed directly on top of it. As in, Detroit Deluxe is built on top of a gigantic metal shell that completely covers old Detroit.
  • Although it's not explored in detail, New New York as seen in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003)'s Fast Forward season, we are told, was built largely over the present-day New York City.

    Real Life 
  • Marina Bay Sands in Singapore looks like a miniaturized version of the above-mentioned Hengsha. (It's been seen in The Amazing Race and Crazy Rich Asians). One can't help but think the design may become more popular over time as space in metropolitan areas becomes a premium.
  • Portions of Chicago are built on double-decker or triple-decker streets; the lower decks are at the original ground level and are used for loading docks and through traffic. Wacker Drive, the longest street in this system, features in The Blues Brothers and The Dark Knight, and the Billy Goat Tavern of Saturday Night Live Fame is located on lower Michigan Avenue. Above, the "L" tracks that loop around The Loop add yet another layer.
  • Seattle had a downplayed version of this during the rebuilding project that started after the great fire of 1889. The entire downtown area was regraded to be about one floor higher than it originally was. Businesses in the area stayed open during the project, meaning that many of them had sidewalks both above and below, creating a two-layer urban environment. When the project was completed, the original first floors were turned into basements and the second floors became the new street-level floors. Some of the old infrastructure still exists and serves as a tourist attraction.
  • It was proposed that much of the City of London should be rebuilt like this after the bomb damage of World War II, with cars and service entrances at ground level and pedestrians getting around on elevated walkways. The Barbican area roughly bounded by Aldersgate Street, London Wall, Finsbury Pavement, Chiswell Street, and Beech Street was significantly reconstructed like this, and the notoriously labyrinthine nature of the network of walkways, bridges, and high-level entrances to buildings helps to explain why it didn't spread wider. "Streets in the sky" was another attempt at this in the UK during the 60s and 70s. In practice, the idea was a rather grandiose version of a mixed-use building, where shops and other community facilities would be integrated into an apartment block along exposed exterior walkways. Because there was no through traffic, the idea rarely worked as intended and most British shops and whatnot are decidedly earthbound.
  • Several cities in the Canadian Prairies and in the northern United States Midwest have extensive skyway systems, with pedestrian traffic in between blocks in the downtown centers a level above the street. These serve the practical purpose of not going outside in cold winter weather.
  • The Township of East Pasila, Helsinki, Finland, has been designed with this in mind. The cars run on ground level, while the pedestrian and bicycle passageways are on the upper levels.
  • The capital of Estonia, Tallinn. The Vanalinn (Old Town) consists of three tiers: the historically bourgeoisie-inhabited Lower Town, the noblemen's Upper Town, and the military and administration center, Toompea Castle, on the upmost tier. The city wall separates not only the whole Old Town from newer townships but also the Lower Town from the Upper Town, while Toompea Castle is the citadel on its own. If we take into account the newer townships, that would make altogether four tiers.