The Mainland is the capital of the the Shire and one of its largest cities (by landmass), and is the oldest city in the the Shire. It was originally named 'The Shire' by early settlers, before the world as a whole adopted the term. The city covers an area approximately 600x600 in size, and the metropolitan area (including Bree, Lamename Village, and Belthil Tower) covers an area of over 1000x1000. The Mainland is also one of two anchors of the substantially larger metropolitan area called Greater Mainland, home to some of the most culturally significant and historical builds.
In year 1 of the Shire Reckoning calendar (Oct 15, 2010), colonists from the defunct Fraggle Rock server founded the city on the shores of the Spawn. The city thrived, becoming the largest in the Shire (and, for a time, the only city in the Shire).
Through land reclamation and municipal annexation, the Mainland has expanded beyond it's original borders. For example, the areas now occupied by the Opera House and the Shire fairgrounds were once part of the ocean.
After the Shire became public, the Mainland became a major trading and shopping hub, and its rich history helps attract many tourists, with The Odd Facade attracting hundreds of tourists every year.
The city was the site of several firsts, including the Shires' first city, first rail system, and the first area to be featured in a Youtube video.
The city's economic base includes retail, government services, entertainment, and tourism.
The city is ranked number one in historical landmarks, and is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
The Mainland has one of the highest costs of living in the Shire, with building access restricted to Archdukes and above, and land becoming increasingly scarce.
The Mainland was founded as 'The Shire' on October 15, 2010 (Shire Reckoning year 1 of the First Age) by Ctshiner, Nebbers, and Mmerkler.
After the sudden and unfortunate loss of their first world, "Fraggle Rock", Ctshiner created a new and far more stable vanilla server, which he hosted from his home PC.
The world was created in Minecraft Alpha (Minecraft Beta was not released until December 20, 2010). The first build ever to be created was a giant "HI" sign, created by Ctshiner to welcome Mmerkler and Nebbers to the server. This "HI" sign, although modified since it's creation, still stands today in it's original location.
Ctshiner was the first to explore the new area. He left two trails of torches for the other members to follow and explore the area. The first route guided early visitors from the spawn, up through what is now the Plaza or Market District, before ending at base camp, which would later become the first Shire Train Station.
The second route was the "scenic tour". It followed along the Mainland's west coast, up through what is now Brandywine Village and Shai-Town, over the mountain that would become the Odd Facade, before turning back toward base camp. Along the way was the second structure ever built on the server - the "Flame Pits" tower.
At the base of what would become the stairway that leads to the Odd Facade was once a sinkhole that had lava dangerously close to the surface. Ctshiner built a tower next to the pit with a sign warning others to watch their step.
The first three months were spent taming the wild lands that would eventually become the Mainland. Citizens explored caves, fought mobs, and survived off the fruits of the land. This time also marked the construction of the first few builds as well. Notable buildings constructed during this time include Castle Wolfen-Neb, Chateau Cristobel, Shire Train Station (demolished), The Odd Facade, Shinto Temple (demolished), Plaza, and the Herman B. Wells Library. The Great Waw was also constructed during these early days - a barrier that was initially built to separate the Shire from the unexplored wild lands beyond.
The Great Waw originally ran, unbroken, from the Mainland's western shore (near the Great Pyramid) all the way to the southwestern shore (near present day Temple District & Maven Mall). Over time, the wall was dissected by roads and bridges as the outside world was colonised. It eventually came to represent the Mainland's official border to the west and south.
Also during this time, an extensive tunnel system was constructed, spreading in all directions from under the Train Station. The Chamber of Souls, located beneath Castle Wolfen-Neb, is the most prominent portion of the system.
December 20th, 2010 ushered in a new era for Mainland. This was the day the Odd Facade Resort was featured in the first video of the Shire uploaded to YouTube, and signaled the first public release of the Shire's server address.
A second video, "The Shire Central District", became another hit when it was uploaded on January 7th, 2011 - it has been seen 187,000 times to-date; new members trickled in, and the Mainland was soon inundated with new capital investment from these newcomers.
One of the first outside members, Vancelot, constructed a house and magic shop in the Plaza. The house still exists to this day, however the magic shop has been built over by Mr. Wolf Inc. tower. It was around this time that the various plaza shops, most of which still exist, were constructed.
The Skybridge was also constructed, in three phases; Phase one, built by mmerkler, linked the now-demolished Merk Manor to the plaza. Phase two, built by nebbers, crossed over the Plaza - and phase three, built by Ctshiner, linked Castle Wolfen-Neb to the far east side of the Mainland. It remains today one of the most iconic features of the Mainland.
Back in those days, Creative mode was unavailable and several items were completely unattainable unless through admin commands.
The stores of the Mainland plaza were kept well stocked, and they were ran on the honor system. The community was small enough that keeping chests stocked was entirely feasible - members took only what they needed and gave back what they could. However, the popularity of the Shire videos led to something the server administrators had not prepared for: griefing.
The chests were raided, homes were burned, and the plaza was covered in lava on more than one occasion. Not only did the sudden popularity bring griefers, but it also brought something else: bad builders. In fact, one could argue that it was in the Mainland where Mr. Wolf was truly born. These early pioneers of dirt houses helped pave the way for the Shire's quality control systems and our stringent ranking rules and regulations.
By April 2011, the Mainland became a restricted zone for its own protection - only a privileged few were allowed to build in what was then the jewel of the server. This lockdown had unintended consequences, however. It forcibly removed several members and projects from the Mainland and, while tragic as this may sound, the Mainland diaspora helped seed other parts of the Shire, giving rise to new communities, each with their own distinct themes and personalities.
For the next several months, growth in the Mainland was slow but steady. The glory of the Mainland faded and it's importance dropped substantially, as new cities sought to supplant the Mainland as the dominant political force in the Shire.
It was in late 2011 that efforts to rejuvenate began in earnest. The server's first Architect, Shanevr, has likely contributed the most new buildings after ordering the dismantling of his first city, Vartistia. Several of his builds were relocated to the Mainland to spare them from destruction.
This sparked a renaissance within the Mainland as other builders desired to have their builds featured in the Mainland. Over the next year, the Mainland underwent substantial gentrification (with exception to the Brandywine area, which had it's property values purposely depressed for the benefit of the Mainland's poorer residents).
Furthermore, the Greater Mainland metropolitan area consists of Bree, Lamename Village, Belthil, and arguably Homestar Port. Political scholars suspect Oranjestad will be included in the Greater Mainland area by the time of the next census in Oct. 2013, as that city expands rapidly toward the eastern coast of the Mainland.
The Mainland is sometimes called a "city of neighbourhoods" because of the profusion of diverse subsections.
There are 7 official neighbourhoods in the Mainland (as listed in previous section), plus 6 special administrative zones (these being the Opera House, Dukedom, Shire Govt Offices, Odd Facade Resort, Maven Mall, and Shire University). Much of the Opera House and Spawn Zone areas are built on reclaimed land—the ocean in the area has been completely filled in, forcing the destruction of the Shire's first lighthouse, which was stationed just off the original coastline.
The Central District area and immediate surroundings consist mostly of mid-rise wood and stone buildings, with many older buildings in the Survivalism era style. Several of these buildings mix in with modern mid-rises, notably the Church of Motherwell, Chateau Cristobel, and Castle Wolfen-Neb. In addition to the Survivalism cobblestone & wood styles, several other architectural styles have found their way to the Mainland.
The Central District has come to be dominated by Homestar & Silex-style mid-rises. Shire Heights, Brandywine, and Shiredale became known their Bree styles (with the neo-classical civic buildings as centrepieces). Shai-Town, of course, became known for their heavy Gong-Chengshi and Shai-Ling influences.
The Mainland is the unofficial hub of the world, with the Shire's Rail, Highway, and Sewer systems all stemming from it.
The original Shire Rail system was a single-line booster cart system that circled the Mainland and stretched as far as Shai-Ling.
By early 2011, the Rail system was antiquated and was in dire need of an overhaul.
Dendrago and his STA coworker LttylerJ30 brought their substantial redstone knowledge to world and completely revamped the system, starting with the Mainland.
Their system lasted nearly a year before being revamped again by Andrewpo, fatllama and several helpers. Keikei designed the new Central_Railway_Station, replacing the obsolete Survivalism style station entirely.
There are some hidden portions of the original rail lines buried deep within the new station still. It was LttylerJ30 who started the first legs of the Intershire Highway System; the first line started at the end of the Sky Bridge and ran all the way to Shai-Ling.
He constructed the first bypass as well, looping from the Odd Facade, up through Lamename and Bree, before connecting back to the Mainland. Today, the Mainland is criss-crossed by several highways, roads, and tunnels, making it one of the most accessible cities in the Shire.
The Mainland shows its age in its old road system - most roads are old cobblestone, since it was readily available to early settlers.
The area's unmanaged, organic growth is evident in the city's archaic and meandering road layout, as opposed to a pre-planned city which often employs a grid pattern to its streets (see Venice).
The sewer system had it's beginnings underneath where the Opera House now sits; the land was originally ocean until a worldedit land reclamation project started by nebbers filled in the area.
A never-completed retirement centre & market square was built on the new land before being removed to make way for the Opera House.
The landfill project left a moderate cliff face, making a unique drainage point for a sewer system. From there, the sewer system was built out across the Mainland, running under the train station, plaza, Odd Facade, and spawn.
Several lakes and wells in the Mainland drain into the sewers, a little-known secret.
The Mainland is featured in multiple videos:
- The Shire Central District Part I
- The Shire Central District Part II
- The Shire Central District Part III
Several detailed maps have been made of the Mainland as well, each at a different stage in its creation: