Now this was a case in which you were given the result and had to find everything else for yourself. -- Sherlock Holmes in A Study in Scarlet
There is no doubt a history that could be written on shadow cities, cities that were built to resemble other cities, cities constructed to serve as a deterrent or double, cities set to deceive, cities constructed to be experimented upon. Some were built ot be destroyed. Like Paris--or "Sham Paris".
Augustine cleaved two cities from one, the good and the doomed, in The City of God. The powers that were in Paris at the end of World War I tried to do exactly that—to create a Sham Paris located on the outskirts of the real city—it was to be doomed, offered with confusing lights and displays that would disorient German aviators into bombing and destroying it rather than the real city.
Of course these were also the days of pre-RADAR, and of aviators simply holding a bomb by its fins and letting go once a target was in sight, so the possibility of causing this sort of dissonance was at least palpable. The planes held the pilot and a lot of fuel, and not much flight weight was devoted to bombs, so the bombing runs were necessarily quick and comparatively light (by standards of just a decade later). So the idea of a Sham Paris might’ve, could’ve sort’ve worked, maybe; but not really. It had a very strong, fatal, feculent (thank you for this word, Mr. Depp) air about it, like that misty doomsday smell that lifted the Maginot Line out of the earth and dumped it in the dim and stinking past.
The story of Sham Paris may have been “broken” in The Illustrated London News of 6 November 1920 in a remarkably titled photo essay, “A False Paris Outside Paris—a ‘City’ Created to be Bombed”. There were to be sham streets lined with electric lights, sham rail stations, sham industry, open to a sham population waiting to be bombed by real Germans. It is a perverse city, filled with the waiting-to-be-murdered in a civilian target. Sham Paris seems to me like a reverse city. And a reverse city in the manner of the cities created by the guilty Cain and Romulus—these two were murders who created cities; Sham Paris is a city of created murders to save the innocent.
(All images here are clickable and can be enlarged.)
Its important to distinguish Sham Cities from hidden cities, like Project Iceworm (the underground city built in Greenland) or Mt. Weather (the not-so-very-secret secure and safe bunker for the governing class in Bluemont, Virginia) and so on. Sham Cities were definitely constructed for deception and/or destruction. The next city we'll take a look at: Survival Town, Nevada.