Once again, the story of Saskatoon is intertwined with the story of Croesus A. Catsby. Despite his enormous contribution to the city as we know it, he has taken special care to keep his involvement with the city’s development largely under the radar. There is nothing named after him—no museums or office buildings or high streets. The sole exception to this is the Treecross Lanes Housing Project—more commonly known as Croesus Quarter. The Quarter is 2 square kilometers of exactingly-constructed regulation apartment buildings, which at first glance call to mind the architectural stylings of a 20th-century communist state. A closer inspection will reveal a maze of half-hidden criminal dealings, unsolved mysteries, and also a real actual maze.
Croesus Quarter began construction in 2047, after the Saskatoon reconstruction process had begun in earnest. The land—previously the Saskatchewan University admin and development area—was purchased, developed, and leased entirely by Croesus Construction, which by that point had already developed a strong capital base from their investments on Lakeshore Drive. Over the course of the next 3 years, a massive team of almost 2000 workers assembled 221 near-identical buildings across 37 city blocks. Over the first few months, life went on as normal barring a few peculiar rumors; but in 2052, a viral video posted on Chatr revealed the first of Treecross’s many strange secrets: a false wall, concealing a hidden lead-lined compartment some ten centimeters thick, had been discovered in one of the tenant’s rooms.
This first discovery marked the beginning of a decades-long course of discovery which fascinated locals and captured imaginations for almost 50 years. From 2052 to 2098, a small but devoted subculture of urban enthusiasts catalogued over 2300 quirks and faults in Croesus’ Quarter: floors that were several centimeters thicker than those of neighboring buildings; walls that were half a meter to one side; light fixtures that stopped working for 5 minutes at precisely the same time every week. Many of these were initially dismissed as unremarkable deviances in building construction, and attributed to human error; but a portentous number of these revealed such strange things as hidden safes, false walls, and concealed panels in the floor.
This climaxed in 2081, when a hidden cellar beneath the floorboards of one building was discovered to, itself, have a false wall leading to a previously untouched network of hidden tunnels nearly six kilometers long. These tunnels, often terminating in false walls themselves, crisscrossed the whole of the quarter and contained a variety of further-concealed chambers—which were often much larger and more sinister than the ones above-ground. Within these hidden rooms, investigators found evidence of violent struggles; stashes of meticulously-hidden contraband; and in one chilling incident, almost 20 severed heads which all belonged to the same unidentified man.
The final discovery of Croesus Quarter—a relatively unremarkable false wall in the tunnels—was made in 2098, and since then public interest has steadily declined. Today, with the evidence having been scrubbed long ago, the many oddities of the quarter have either been folded into the lives of day-to-day residents, or dedicated in service to a cottage industry of superstitious urban explorers. New explorations into the Quarter’s mysteries are largely confined to online message boards, and a few intrepid locals: it is known that certain doors in the quarter only open in specific sequence, while others are themselves opened; and much research has been collated in regards to this—all possible combinations of doors have been meticulously detailed and tested.
Most of the discussion today chiefly concerns the why surrounding Croesus Quarter, instead of the what. The official line taken by Croesus Construction is that the company’s executive branch had no knowledge of the quarter’s abnormalities. They were blamed in their entirely on Isaac Arthur, the project’s executive foreman. Some two years after the quarter’s completion, Arthur was institutionalized by court order, and treated for schizophrenic tendencies; but while in recovery he was tragically stabbed to death by a fellow patient who went unidentified.
Among conspiracy hobbyists, more scandalous explanations often circulate. One of the most well-known of these is that the tunnels were a secret vault constructed to house illegal liquid assets during the city’s construction; while a more outlandish (yet equally popular) version maintains that the tunnels were constructed on special commission by some shadowy organization. This has often been touched upon in popular fiction—most notably in the conspiracy thriller genre.
Whatever the tunnels’ true intention, they are now often used for a slew of other things: a number of small businesses (schlock vendors, or augmentation clinics of dubious veracity) exist in the honeycomb of hidden chambers; and a number of vagrants will sleep in the corridors themselves during the Winter. Beyond this, though, the quarter has garnered a reputation as a hotbed of unpleasant things: the tunnels are commonly used as temporary storehouses for illegal goods, while the streets and buildings above are known as a bastion of the opioid trade. In 2107, declining property values in the area motivated the Croesus company to sell their leases on the property in bulk, to a multitude of buyers; and over time, several of the buildings wore down. While the district was briefly revitalized from 2230 to 2270 by a wave of neo-bohemian lifestylers, it soon sank into its previous state as a neighborhood of normal people just trying to make ends meet.