- "Why would he send is savior unto us, if we will not raise a finger for our own salvation? And though we deserved not his mercy, he has led us to this New Eden, a last chance for redemption. And the prophet shall lead the people to the New Eden."
- ―Columbia's Purpose
- "What is Columbia if not another Ark, for another time?"
- ―Zachary Comstock
Columbia is a massive floating city in the sky, forged by the American Government, which was conceived by Zachary Hale Comstock to re-imagine the American society as Christian utopia. Columbia's construction was under the guidance of quantum physicist Rosalind Lutece who managed Columbia to be able to literally fly over the clouds using her Lutece Field of Quantum Levitation.
Columbia floats atop of the American continent with periodic stops across major cities of the United States, only to connect to certain station and lighthouses that hold rockets to propel people into the city. Composed of neoclassical buildings constructed on giant reactors and self-sustaining balloons, Columbia is able to literally fly over the clouds. It strongly resembles a classic version of Boston. 60 million people lived in Columbia in 1912.
Originally conceived as a floating symbol of American ideals at a time when the United States was emerging as a world power, Columbia was launched to great fanfare in 1893, and dispatched to distant shores. However, what began as an endeavor of hope went drastically wrong: in 1901, during the Boxer Rebellion, Columbia fired on Chinese civilians who had taken American hostages. This event revealed the true nature of the floating city: a heavily armed aerial battleship. This event created a rift between leadership in Columbia and Washington, and in response, Columbia seceded from the union and disappeared into the clouds.
Despite its purpose of morality and upholding Christian values, Columbia still carried on America's xenophobic and racist ideals. The people of Columbia and its leaders believed that Christianity is the only true religion, and that the White race is superior to other races, who were forced into working classes and segregation, and only in-born Americans are accepted as opposed to immigrants. Propaganda in the city suggests that the White man needs to protect oneself against the "hordes" of different races and nationalities.Those of different race, nationality, and religion were forced to work in the intense labor and service field, including Fink Manufacturing, which is often known for their mistreatment and poor housing of their workers in Finkton. The people of Columbia think that they are "The true America". For this reason, Columbia calls America the "So called America" and themselves "The real America".
Among the working class was Daisy Fitzroy, an African-American servant in the service for the First Lady of Columbia, Lady Comstock. It was known that she and Daisy had a good relationship while they were together. However, in the event of Lady Comstock's mysterious death, Daisy was caught at the scene and arrested. She eventually escaped and finally felt the last of the oppression of the Founders, the leading faction who supported ideals of American exceptionalism. Daisy was only blamed because of the color of her skin, and therefore she waged a war by creating her own faction known as the Vox Populi, who are in favor of equal treatment for those of all races and economic statuses, and uphold socialist ideals.
Religious Beliefs and PhilosophiesEdit
Columbia's founder Zachary Comstock, a self-appointed Prophet supposedly granted wisdom by the angel Columbia, described the city as "another Ark for another time." The majority of Columbia's citizens worship Father Comstock, following his word blindly and trusting wholly in his prophecies. As a result, they stand by his decision to intervene in the Boxer Rebellion, and Columbia's subsequent secession. In addition, the people of the city worship Elizabeth as the Lamb of Columbia, believing she will fulfill Comstock's prophecies in years to come.
The people of Columbia also worship the Founding Fathers--particularly George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin--as religious icons. Each of the three is associated with a different symbol, according to what they gave to mankind: Franklin is associated with the key, a symbol of knowledge; Jefferson is associated with the scroll, a symbol of law and order; and Washington is associated with the sword, a symbol of power and justice. Various statues of the Founding Fathers can be seen throughout the city, such as immediately outside the Welcome Center, and giant balloons of them are fashioned for the yearly Raffle & Fair.
Fink Manufacturing is the largest business in Columbia, as well as its largest employer and manufacturer of most of Columbia's resources, from building materials to Vending Machines. Due to a high demand for Vigors in Columbia, Fink Manufacturing also bottles and distributes Vigors produced by independent, contracted businesses such as Marlowe for Murder of Crows. The work floor at Fink Manufacturing shows its dominance in various markets--one floor, for example, works on automated turrets, whilst the one above works on children's toys.
Smaller businesses produce various items for the people of Columbia, the Founders, and the Vox. However, most of these companies are quickly bought out by Fink's business empire, leaving him the sole distributor for goods in the city. There are exceptions however, such as the Duke & Dimwitt Company, which produces propaganda pieces via books, toys and machines.
Despite these business opportunities, 50% of every Silver Eagle earned goes directly to Comstock, which deeply affects the laborers of Columbia. Further, Fink's heavy-handed exploitation of his workers becomes a factor in the city's eventual social uprising, led by the Vox Populi.
Science and TechnologyEditColumbia possesses numerous technologies that are seemingly beyond the capabilities of the rest of the world circa 1912. The most prominent of these technologies is the system of quantum mechanics that allows Columbia to remain aloft. Although most buildings feature balloons, propellers, and reactors, these devices are only ancillary to Columbia's flight. Rosalind Lutece discovered a method of indefinitely suspending atomic particles in mid-air, named the "Lutece Field," which her colleagues lauded as "quantum levitation." Lutece reasoned that if an atom could be suspended, larger objects such as buildings could as well. Columbia is the end result of Lutece's work.
The city contains other technological marvels, including Vigors, which grant various superhuman powers; the Songbird; Handymen; automata including mechanical horses and Motorized Patriots; Voxophones; advanced weaponry, and the Sky-Line transport system that links much of the city.
Columbia is composed of several distinct districts:
- Monument Island
- Soldier's Field
- Welcome Center
Columbian Propaganda PostersEdit
- The name Columbia refers to the female personification of the United States used in various forms of patriotic symbolism in the 19th century.
- Columbia is supposedly the angel that visited Comstock, inspiring him to build Columbia (his own ark). This can be heard at the celebrations at the start of the game when the floats pass by.
- Early in development, Columbia was meant to be much darker than it currently is. Ken Levine mentioned at a press conference that the concept looked like "Rapture in the sky."
- The process of entering Columbia is a mirror to that of entering Rapture: both journeys start at a lighthouse, but whereas the journey to Rapture is a descent into the ocean, travel to Columbia involves ascension in an airborne capsule. When a whale comes into view when the player descends into Rapture, a zeppelin comes into view when the player is launched to Columbia. Furthering these opposing parallels, Jack rides an airplane to the lighthouse in BioShock and Booker takes a boat in Infinite. A final parallel in decor is also present, as Bioshock opens with a sign declaring Rapture's atheism, whereas the lighthouse at the start of Infinite has signs alluding to Columbia's heavily religious society.
- The events of BioShock Infinite begin on July 6, 1912, the anniversary of Columbia's secession from the United States.
- Columbia appears in PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale. It makes two appearances: once, in the background of the Uncharted stage, Stowaways, and again as its very own stage, which is invaded by the Twisted Metal character, Dollface.
- Columbia is shown attacking New York City on December 31st, 1983 in one reality.
- According to the automated recording heard in the transport capsule Booker DeWitt rides to Columbia, the city resides at an altitude of approximately 15,000 ft (4572 meters). This altitude would have a serious effect on the health of Columbia's residents. The lower air pressure and oxygen can effect judgement and instill a sense of euphoria, tunnel vision, and hypoxia (insufficient oxygen supply to the body or parts of the body) within moments. Prolonged exposure can also result in altitude sickness and high altitude pulmonary edema or a fatal cerebral edema.
- The lighthouse at the start of the game actually has a schedule for Columbia's visits to U.S cities. Cities include Washington, New York, Chicago, St. Louis and Savannah. How exactly Columbia can visit these cities with their secession from the United States is unclear, it may be possible that Columbia still accepts new visitors on a regular basis, which further parallels against Bioshock, where Rapture not only stopped accepting new people, but completely forbade any contact whatsoever with the outside world.
- The map in the lighthouse (next to the schedule mentioned above) shows that Columbia was never originally intended to fly over the Atlantic, and instead was to travel in a loop on a tour across the U.S. The map seems to be period-correct, or perhaps slightly older, maybe created in 1893 when Columbia was created, since it does not show Alaska or Hawai'i.
- Unlike the high standards of success and inclusion of the "best and the brightest" present in the system of inclusion for Rapture, Columbia appears to have no such ruling and anyone is allowed to enter so long as they believe in the city's variation of "American Exceptionalism."
- ↑ City of Columbia Historical Timeline
- ↑ "E3 2011: BioShock Infinite preview" article by Nick Cowen at The Guradian
- ↑ GameInformer 210, October Edition, Page 52
- ↑ Columbia, patriotic symbol, on Wikipedia
- ↑ "BioShock Infinite Interview: Irrational Boss Ken Levine" interview by Xav de Matos at Shacknews.com