Cars move along the streets, planes fly overhead and trains pull through the city, but no one actually lives there.
Unless, that is, the cyber residents in Adam Pelkey's simulated city have an electronic pulse.
They live in an expansive city on the Mississippi River. Wind and sun provide non-polluting power to their multi-story apartment houses and their green residential sections. The city includes a forest preserve along the river front.
Over a month's time, the 11-year-old south Brainerd resident created a city with a population of more than 208,000 residents. He had a firm idea of things he wanted the city to include.
Adam Pelkey, 11, Brainerd, completed the winning entry for The Dispatch SimCity contest. Students were asked to redesign Brainerd using the computer program's simulated city. Pelkey used city landmarks and created a community of more than 208,000.
"I definitely wanted an airport and a harbor," Adam said.
Within the city there are buildings that may not be recognized, but the landmarks carry familiar names. The city includes St. Joseph's Medical Center, Brainerd Medical Center and Crow Wing Power. Two major highway arteries also carry familiar numbers of 371 and 210.
A unique building along the river has the futuristic architecture as though the Seattle Space Needle met the Foshay Tower. Named the Paul Bunyan Tower, the river building is actually an amusement center. Higher education is also a priority in Adam's city. There are four colleges and an archeology institute.
With all the possibilities of simulated creation, building the city was not without challenges.
"I have had water shortages scattered around when I was designing it," Adam said. And he noted cyber citizens were concerned about having more police stations even after additional protection was supplied.
His parents remarked on the time Adam devoted to the project.
Laurie Pelkey said the idea of redesigning Brainerd was a natural for her son, who already expresses a desire to be an architect. "I think he had fun with it," she said.
"I think it's good for the young kids to learn how to design a city so it doesn't fall apart," Steve Pelkey said.
The city has a few buildings that could be set for urban renewal, which is not surprising for a city its size. And the program option that allows disasters to strike from monsters to fire and flood was turned off. But with city services, from fire and police protection to supplying fresh water, the city coffers also had funds of more than $1 million.
Adam said designing buildings is probably more appealing in the long run when he thinks about a future career. "Totally designing cities would be harder than what they do on SimCity," he said.
Beyond multi-story business buildings and office structures in the simulated Brainerd, there are housing tracts and parks, both large and small, scattered throughout. Giant domed housing units -- with their own green space on the upper level -- provide living space for 30,000 residents at a pop.
When those residents are not seen in tiny cars along city streets they can attend events at two sports stadiums -- one named for the city of Brainerd and the other for the Mighty Gulls.
Adam said if he were to change things about the real Brainerd it would be to add a little more entertainment.
A passenger train snakes through the city. Putting the train in the city was a link to Brainerd's railroad roots and tradition.
With all the hustle and bustle, complete with the moving transportation and sound from the computer program, Adam said the real city may have an advantage or two.
"I really wouldn't like the traffic," Adam said as he used a mouse to negotiate to areas of the city in the lower level of his home on Graydon Avenue. "I kind of like Brainerd the way it is -- but if it were a big city this is how I would design it."
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