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Grands Ballons, Gold Coast
Les Grands Ballons, Côte-de-l'Or (fr)
Bola Grande, Costa del Oro (es)
—  Charter city  —
City of Grands Ballons
Ville Des Grands Ballons
Other transcription(s)
 - Sierran Hanzi 盛大(Grands) ʃ((pl.)) 氣球(Balloons) ʃ((pl.))
Grands Ballons.jpg
From top clockwise: View of the Grands Ballons Resort District, the public beaches along Petite Rivière, the St. Peter in Chains Cathedral at the Galaup Square, a view of the intersection of Rue Anemone and St. Charles Boulevard, and the HIMS Queen Angelina in Long Arch Bay
Flag of Grands Ballons.svg
Flag
Seal of Grands Ballons.svg
Seal
Nickname(s): Aquatic Capital of Sierra; GRABA; The Terminal City
Motto: "The Heart of the Creole Coast"
Locator map of Grands Ballons.svg
Location of Grands Ballons in relation to the Gold Coast and Sierra
Sovereign state Flag of Sierra Kingdom of Sierra
Country Flag of Sierra (civil) Sierra
Province Flag of Gold Coast Gold Coast
County Flag of St Anthony County St. Anthony
Barony Coat of arms of St Anthony County Bixby
Foundation October 8, 1797
Founder Julian Manuel Coronel
Government
 - Type Council-Manager
 - Mayor Earl Hughes Delafose (D)
 - Baron Lord Albert, 3rd Baron of Bixby
Area
 - Total 133.3 km2 (51.48 sq mi)
 - Land 130.3 km2 (50.32 sq mi)
 - Water 3 km2 (1.16 sq mi)  2.22%
Elevation 16 m (52 ft)
Population (2016)
 - Total 683,384
 - Density 5,125.1/km2 (13,274/sq mi)
 - Demonym Grand Ballonian
Time zone Pacific Standard Time (UTC-8)
 - Summer (DST) Pacific Daylight Time (UTC-7)
ZIP codes 90717-90720
Call codes 424
Patroness Our Lady of Catalina (Madonna of the Gold Coast)
Tourism Logo GRABA
Major freeways Interprovincial 2B Interprovincial 2C K.S. Scenic Route 16 Gold Coast Route 5
Gold Coast Route 47 Gold Coast Route 103 K.S. Route 91
Website graba.gc.ks

Grands Ballons (/grænd 'bæl.loʊn/; French: Les Grands Ballons [le ɡʁɑ̃ balɔ̃]) is a major port city on the Pacific coast of southeastern Gold Coast in the Sierran Southwest Corridor. As of 2016, its population was 683,384. It is the second most populous city in the Gold Coast and the tenth largest in the Kingdom. It is the seat of St. Anthony County and is an integral part of the Greater Porciúncula Area. In colloquial speech, it is commonly referred to by locals of the Southwest Corridor as GRABA or Graba (from GRAnds BAllons).

Grands Ballons is a major center for tourism, finance, logistics, international trade, culture, commerce, media, entertainment, music, education, and the arts. It is home to the Port of Grands Ballons, which together with the neighboring Port of Porciúncula and Port of Little Gibraltar, form one of the world's largest cargo ports. The strong, historical presence of maritime trade and casual boating has led the city to proclaim itself as the "Aquatic Capital of Sierra". In 2011, it was recognized as an Alpha city. In 2016, the city ranked fourth in Sierra in importance in terms of economic activity, human capital, culture, and political status. It is well known for its strong French and Spanish heritage, and is considered the cultural center of the Saintiana, or the Creole Coast, an interprovincial region of Creole and French culture in the Southwest Corridor. It is also famous for its cuisine, music, and drinking culture (particularly for its cocktails and coffee), as well as its year-round festivals and international events.

The city is home to over 12 neighborhoods, 9 of which are referred to as wards. Downtown Grands Ballons is home to the most of the city's banks, international firms, and business, and is located along Long Arch Bay. The famous Old Spanish Town is a predominantly Sierran Creole neighborhood and includes the city's oldest buildings and establishments. The colonial Franco-Spanish architecture can be found here, featuring brightly colored homes with balconies and archways, and narrow one-way streets. Northtown is also another predominantly Creole, working-class neighborhood and is the birthplace of Sierran funk and hip hop. The city is home to four beaches, of which the Petite Rivière, a 1.8-mile stretch of resorts and hotels, are lined up, overlooking the Pacific. The Belmont Shore and Naples section of the city is very affluent and is home to some of the nation's wealthiest millionaires and noblemen. Western Grands Ballons is primarily industrial-based and is the site of the Port of Grands Ballons and Terminal Island. The neighboring Porciúncula neighborhood of St. Pierre-Chah is the primary location of the Port of Porciúncula and is where the northern terminus of the Bonaparte–San Pedro Tunnel is (which connects the Sierran mainland to the city of Little Gibraltar on the Channel Islands' Catalina Island).

The 2017 Pawnee earthquake caused significant damage to buildings and infrastructure in the city's historic Old Spanish Town and older neighborhoods. As much as $20 million in damages in personal property were incurred as a result of the disaster. Like many other cities in the region recovering from the earthquake, Grands Ballons is undergoing an ambitious renovation project that includes earthquake-proofing the city infrastructure and updating its telecommunications network.

History

Historical affiliations

Cross of Burgundy Spanish Empire 1777–1821
Flag of the First Mexican Empire First Mexican Empire 1821–1823
Flag of the First Mexican Republic Mexico 1823–1848
Bear flag digital California Republic 1848–1858
Flag of Sierra Kingdom of Sierra 1858–present

Human settlement in the area around Grands Ballons has existed for over 10,000 years. Various Amerindian peoples built their communities around the coastal plains of the Porciúncula Basin, and had a rich maritime culture of boating and fishing. It is believed that although there were no permanent settlements within present-day Grands Ballons' city limits, the area was used for hunting and fishing. When the Spanish arrived to Sierra for the first time, the primary group of Amerindians who inhabited Grands Ballons were the Tongva, although there was a minority population of Shoshone peoples as well. As the Spanish and the French began to establish themselves in the region, the Amerindian population in the region dropped at alarming rates. The Tongva lacked the immunity defense against the diseases introduced by the Europeans, and the survivors were often relocated or sent either to Mission San Gabriel Arcángel or Mission San Juan Capistrano.

Our Lady of Catalina

Our Lady of Catalina is the patroness of the Channel Islands and Grands Ballons.

In 1784, Charles III of Spain rewarded a large land grant named Rancho Los Nietos to Spanish soldier Manuel Nieto. Nieto was a Mexican-born mulatto who served at the Presidio of San Diego and later, Mission San Gabriel. With the land grant, Nieto was allowed to use it for raising cattle and allowing them to graze it. The land grant included nearly all parts of modern Grands Ballons, parts of Porciúncula's Harbor Region, and other parts of St. Anthony County. The original grant included 300,000 acres (1,200 km2), but this size was reduced nearly by a half to 167,000 acres (680 km2) shortly after the next year. This was made in response after Mission San Gabriel disputed the boundaries of the grant, which overlapped with the mission's southern property areas.

In 1797, Julian Manuel Coronel, a soldier from Mission San Gabriel, and a family friend of Nieto, was granted permission to build a house in present-day Grands Ballons. The Coronel Estate, which remains standing to this day, became the city's first known establishment. Coronel was also responsible for the city's future name, giving his place the name Bola Grande, in reference to a large, spherical rock formation he discovered by the beachfront, a few acres away from his home.

At the turn of the century, the Spaniards had recognized the value and importance of Grands Ballons' Long Arch Bay. With wide banks and calm surf, it was an ideal place to moor ships. In addition, it was close enough to the Channel Islands, where the French had begun settling just two decades earlier. In 1768, the Marian apparition Our Lady of Catalina had been reported by many French and Spaniard soldiers who were convinced that the region was blessed for further development. Although the apparition was claimed to have appeared over Catalina Island from whence the title owes its name to, further eyewitnesses at Coronel's estate in Grands Ballons also reported seeing it. This event has been attributed as a major factor in Spanish development in the region, which spurred at a phenomenal rate as stories of the account spread across the Empire. With the approval by the Spanish government, Nieto and Coronel worked towards expanding Coronel's residence into a pueblo town which could be a useful link between the Channels and Porciúncula. Recognizing the great economic potential for the region, the demand for Amerindian labor was high. Many Amerindians themselves were interested in the economic opportunities offered by the Spanish, and thus Nieto established a ranchería with the help of local tribesmen to attract natives throughout the region.

The majority of Amerindians who were employed and housed at Nieto's ranchería were of Tongva descent. Knowledgeable of their native lands, they provided suggestions and advice on Spanish construction projects. A large, elaborate aqueduct system built around the Porciúncula was largely done by Amerindian labor. Despite their undeniably crucial importance to the entire colonization project, they faced harsh subjugation and treatment at the hands of the Europeans, who regarded them as inferior. The concept of limpieza de sangre was prevalent in the Spanish New World and as the Spaniards intermarried with the Amerindian women, a new class of people emerged, which necessitated the development of the Sierran casta system.

In addition to the Amerindians, Coronel offered four rectangles of land (suertes) for farming to each settler, as his townspeople began constructing an aqueduct from the area's various water sources. Wildlife was abundant, and people could freely hunt and eat the various game and fish that roamed the wetlands and hills. Early commerce subsisted on bartering agricultural goods with crafts, animal hides, woven material, and other items. These plots of land favored farming, as opposed to the ranching-friendly practices favored in other land grants elsewhere.

Grands Ballons saw its first church built in 1804, the Cathedral of Our Lady Catalina, to commemorate the Marian apparitional event reported back in 1768. The completion of the church signaled a period of significant growth and the town's upward status as a place of utmost economic and political significance to the region. It was the focal point for trade between the Channel Islands and the Spanish towns further inland in the mainland. The Presidio Real de Bola Grande was established in 1807, and housed about 70 full-time soldiers, who also partook in agricultural work and commercial endeavors around town.

Geography

Naples, Grands Ballons

The mostly residential and affluent neighborhood of Naples.

Grands Ballons is located at 33° 47' North, 118° 10' West, about 20 miles (32 km) south of downtown Porciúncula. According to the K.S. Royal Bureau of Census, the city has a total area of 51.437 square miles (133.2 km2), with 50.293 square miles (130.3 km2) of its area being land and 1.144 square miles (2.96 km2) of it (2.22%) is water. Grands Ballons completely surrounds the enclaved city of Porcupine Hill.

The city is situated at the southern coastal plains of the Porciúncula Basin, which contains most of the Gold Coast's population and segments of Orange and the Inland Empire. Facing Long Arch Bay, Grands Ballons is also the southernmost city in the Gold Coast. It is located directly over the Centinela–Newport fault, a seismic fault capable of producing a 7.4 earthquake on the moment magnitude scale. The Porciúncula River's mouth flows into the Pacific Ocean in western Grands Ballons. The city lies just to the east of the Palos Verdes Peninsula and its hills. To the east of Grands Ballons is the provincial line between the Gold Coast and Orange, and the Orange city of Pinnipède Landing. The Alamitos Bay is situated between the two cities and includes Grands Ballons' Naples district.

Cityscape

The city is generally laid out in the traditional grid plan, with the streets in Petite Rivière and the Old Spanish Town running parallel to the coastline in a northwest-southeast orientation. The Circle Area and College Park districts feature more modern, varied street distribution and curvature. The city is bounded by Interprovincial 2C to the east. Gold Coast Provincial Route 5 and Interprovincial 2B are major freeways that run through the entire length and width of the city respectively. These freeways have informally marked the boundaries between the more affluent and less affluent sections of town. Generally, residents living to the south of the I-2B (and areas east of the GR-5 that are south of the I-2B) are more well-off than the opposite side.

Neighborhoods and districts

For a more comprehensive list, see Neighborhoods and districts of Grands Ballons.
Downtown

Downtown Grands Ballons is located immediately north of Half-Moon Bay, east of the Port of Grands Ballons (divided by the Porciúncula River), and west of Alamitos Bay. Its modern layout was developed during the mid-20th century after World War II with the support of private investors and the federal and provincial governments. Downtown includes most of the city's high-rise buildings and corporate offices, city and county government buildings, Soleil Square, the Grands Ballons Aquarium, the HIMS Queen Angelina, and the Convention Center.

It is the second most visited part of Grands Ballons, after the Old Spanish Town. It is one of the most pedestrian-friendly parts of the city and is within short walking distance to the beach and other neighborhoods. The newer, more renovated East Village is considered part of downtown, and includes high-rise condos, coffeeshops, bistros, music halls, and cottages. The urban beach setting has attracted artists, writers, and young adults to the area, as well as Sierrans from other PSAs and international immigrants. The 2017 earthquake caused considerably less damage to the downtown area due in part to tougher building regulations and engineering requirements.

Old Spanish Town
Leclerc Street

Local businesses and stores along Leclerc Street

The most famous and oldest section of the city is the Old Spanish Town (historically known as the Indian Rancheria or Ranchería India in Spanish), which lies just to the north of central downtown. It is listed in the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) and is separately classified as a Common Heritage Site by the League of Nations. The Old Spanish Town is located on the former Amerindian ranchería that Grands Ballons founder Julian Manuel Coronel established in 1797 and this colonial legacy is responsible for its iconic Franco-Spanish colonial architecture. The neighborhood is home to numerous local businesses, art galleries, restaurants, apartments, and offices. It is home to a large population of Sierran Creoles and is generally regarded as the core capital of Saintiana or the "Creole Coast" as it is more commonly called. The town is the recognized birthplace of shoowah music, and has a rich musical scene. Street performances and jazz bands are common throughout the district and occur on a daily basis, serving as attractions in of themselves.

The quasi-governmental organization that manages the district is the Old Spanish Town Preservation Society. The Society officially declares that the neighborhood is bounded by East Rothenburg Street to the north, St. Charles Boulevard to the east, Nieto Street to the south, and the Porciúncula River to the west. Within this zone, there are seventy blocks, and all existing buildings and structures are protected from demolishment. The Society is entrusted with preserving and maintaining these structures, while the municipal government is responsible for the district's roads and public utilities. Renovations to the buildings, whether exterior or interior, must be approved by the Society, and must fit the historical theme and architectural style of the district. New buildings also face similar scrutiny, although the lack of new land and stringent building codes have made this case a rarity.

Petite Rivière

Petite Rivière is bounded by Redondo Avenue on the east, Shoreline Drive and St. Charles Boulevard on the west, and Nieto Street on the north. It follows a 1.7 mile stretch of coastline along Ocean Boulevard. This district is lined up with various resorts, hotels, and upscale apartments on 51 blocks, of which 17 are directly connected to the beach proper. A popular vacationing destination for Sierrans and global travelers alike, Petite Rivière is where the majority of tourists lodge at, and it is within walkable distance to Downtown, the Old Spanish Town, and the Marina District. The district is also serviced by dedicated bus lines, taxi cabs, and bike rentals.

The beach is ideal for sunbathing, surfing, and swimming, and is the site of annual festivals and events. Other on-site amenities are provided to the public for free, including fire pits, volleyball courts, children's playgrounds, active lifeguards on duty, exercise machines, a skate park, and a dog park.

Climate

Climate data for Grands Ballons, Gold Coast (Grands Ballons International Airport) 1981–2010, extremes 1958–present
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 93
(34)
91
(33)
98
(37)
105
(41)
104
(40)
109
(43)
107
(42)
105
(41)
111
(44)
111
(44)
101
(38)
92
(33)
111
(44)
Average high °F (°C) 67.4
(19.7)
67.2
(19.6)
68.6
(20.3)
71.7
(22.1)
73.6
(23.1)
76.7
(24.8)
81.9
(27.7)
83.8
(28.8)
82.1
(27.8)
77.2
(25.1)
72.1
(22.3)
66.8
(19.3)
74.1
(23.4)
Daily mean °F (°C) 56.7
(13.7)
57.6
(14.2)
59.6
(15.3)
62.4
(16.9)
65.6
(18.7)
68.9
(20.5)
73.2
(22.9)
74.3
(23.5)
72.7
(22.6)
67.7
(19.8)
61.4
(16.3)
56.3
(13.5)
64.7
(18.2)
Average low °F (°C) 46.1
(7.8)
48.0
(8.9)
50.5
(10.3)
53.2
(11.8)
57.6
(14.2)
61.0
(16.1)
64.5
(18.1)
64.9
(18.3)
63.2
(17.3)
58.3
(14.6)
50.8
(10.4)
45.8
(7.7)
55.4
(13)
Record low °F (°C) 25
(−4)
33
(1)
33
(1)
38
(3)
40
(4)
47
(8)
51
(11)
55
(13)
50
(10)
39
(4)
34
(1)
28
(−2)
25
(−4)
Average rainfall inches (mm) 2.6
(66)
3.091
(78.5)
1.87
(47.5)
0.598
(15.2)
0.209
(5.3)
0.071
(1.8)
0.031
(0.8)
0.031
(0.8)
0.181
(4.6)
0.63
(16)
1
(25.4)
1.949
(49.5)
12.26
(311.4)
Average rainy days (≥ 0.01 in) 5.9 6.5 5.3 3.1 1.1 0.7 0.5 0.3 0.9 2.5 3.4 5.0 35.2
Average relative humidity (%) 64.7 66.9 67.2 65.4 68.2 69.6 68.3 68.5 69.2 67.6 67.1 66.2 67.4
Source: Royal Climatology Agency
Although temperature ranges vary depending on location in the city, Grands Ballons can be characterized with having a hot-summer Mediterranean climate (Köppen: Csa) with strong semi-arid characteristics. Variance in temperature range increases as one moves further away from the coast, with North Grands Ballons often experiencing summer days that are 10 to 20 degrees Fahrenheit higher than Downtown Grands Ballons. Like much of the Southwest Corridor, the city frequently experiences cloudy, overcast skies known as "June Gloom" in the mornings between the months of May and September. This fog formation generally dissipates by noontime, producing the characteristically sunny Sierran skies. Most rainfall occurs in the wintertime, with the heaviest precipitation occurring between the months of December and February. Hail occasionally happens once or twice a year during the heavier rainy months. Snowfall is extremely rare in attitudes below 2000 feet in Grands Ballons and the Greater Porciúncula Area, with the last recorded snowfall occurring in 1949. Just as rare, if not even rarer are hurricanes and tropical storms, which have only directly hit mainland Sierra twice. Tropical Storm Francis, which caught the city off-guard, made landfall in Grands Ballons in 1939, causing over 120 deaths and $10 million in damages.

Demographics

Historical population
Year Pop.  %±
1850 882
1860 1,622 83.9%
1870 5,259 224.2%
1890 25,656 387.8%
1900 75,657 194.9%

1910 136,319 80.2%
1920 187,366 37.4%
1930 227,383 21.4%
1940 282,710 24.3%
1950 357,611 26.5%

1960 422,127 14.0%
1970 490,732 16.2%
1980 538,845 9.8%
1990 604,566 12.2%

2000 642,871 6.3%
2010 664,829 3.4%

2016 683,384 2.8%
K.S. Decennial Census
Grands Ballons' Racial Breakdown of Population
Racial composition 1990 2000 2010
White 35.4% 32.4% 31.0%
— Non-Hispanic 34.5% 31.8% 29.7%
Asian 2.9% 5.3% 3.7%
Black 42.7% 43.6% 47.2%
— Non-Creole 28.3% 30.6% 31.8%
Two or more races 4.4% 5.1% 5.2%
Native 0.1% 0.1% 0.1%
Other race 14.5% 14.2% 12.7%
Hispanic or Latino (of any race) 4.7% 5.1% 4.6%
Creole (of any race) 15.8% 14.9% 14.7%
Grands Ballons Long View

View of Downtown Grands Ballons and the Port.

The 2010 K.S. Census reported that Grands Ballons had a population of 664,829. The population density of the city was 12,913.31 people per square mile (33,447.92 km2). The racial makeup of Grands Ballons was 206,607 (31.01%) White, 314,015 (47.23%) Black or African Sierran, 637 (0.09%) Native Sierran or Amerindian, 24,824 (3.73%) Asian, 84,365 (12.69%) from other races, and 34,381 (5.17%) two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 29,654 persons (4.6%). Creoles of any race were 97,730 persons (14.7%).

The Census reported that 647,543 people (97.4%) lived in households, 9,972 (1.5%) lived in non-institutionalized group quarters, and 7,313 (1.1%) were institutionalized.

There were 239,482 households, out of which 74,478 (31.1%) had children under the age of 18 living in them, 114,472 (47.8%) were opposite sex-married couples living together, 51,728 (21.6%) had a female householder with no husband present, 18,200 (7.6%) had a male householder with no female present. There were 16,524 (6.9%) unmarried same-sex partnerships and 957 (0.4%) same-sex married couples or partnerships. 41,909 (17.5%) households were made up of individuals and 15,326 (6.4%) had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.57. There were 179,844 families (75.1% of all households); the average family size was 3.78.

There were 247,521 housing units at an average density of 5,271.3 per square mile (13,652.6/km2) of which 116,087 (46.9%) were owner-occupied, and 131,433 (53.1%) were occupied by renters. The houseowner vacancy rate was 2.7%; the rental vacancy rate was 6.4%. 317,788 people (47.8% of the population) lived in owner-occupied housing units and 329,755 (52.2%) lived in rental housing units.

According to the 2010 Census, Grands Ballons had a median household income of $54,573, with 24.2% living below the federal poverty line ($22,500 for a family of 4).

As of 2016, the population of Grands Ballons was 683,384. An estimate in June 2017 indicated that the population had risen to 687,284.

Religion

Cathedral of Our Lady Catalina

The Cathedral of Our Lady Catalina, the seat of the Archdiocese of Grands Ballons.

As a city with deep ties with the Spanish and French colonial past, Grands Ballons carries a prominent Roman Catholic character and tradition. The Catholic faith was the official religion under both New Spain and Mexico. The propagation of Catholicism to the natives was one of the official goals of settlement in Sierra, and this aim was initially carried out by the Californian mission system. In addition, many 19th and 20th century African-American and European immigrants, were Catholic. Roman Catholicism is the dominant faith in Grands Ballons and the surrounding Saintiana region. Within the Archdiocese of Grands Ballons, 33.4% of the population was Roman Catholic as of the 2010 census. The city's festivals, street names, architecture, parochial schools, cultural traditions, and social attitudes are indicative of its Catholic influences.

The nationally predominant Protestant tradition also has a strong presence in Grands Ballons, and is mostly practiced in the city's suburban neighborhoods. Dozens of Protestant denominations and churches are represented in the city, including the Methodists, Baptists, Lutherans, Presbyterians, Adventists, and Mormons. During the 1970s and 1980s, the city was also the epicenter of a major Charismatic movement, with the Pentecostal One World Church, the movement's largest homegrown group, still based in the city.

There is a small community of Afro-Caribbean religion practitioners, including Sierran Voodoo, a syncretic blend of Louisiana Voodoo, folk Catholicism, Santería, and local indigenous beliefs. These religions have a deep-rooted history in Grands Ballons, and their mystical ubiquity has drawn hundreds of thousands of tourists each year to the city's many voodoo shops and parlors.

Economy

Grands Ballons has one of the busiest and largest container ports in the world, which saw some 72 million metric tons worth $110 billion in 2001. The Port of Grands Ballons, the neighboring Port of Porciúncula, and the nearby Port of Little Gibraltar form the Tri-Port Area, whose combined operations form the busiest maritime port in the entire Western Hemisphere. Grands Ballons' economy was historically based on oil, after it was discovered in Porcupine Hill in 1921. Oil extraction and refinement became a major source of economic activity for the city, and generated a population boom that attracted thousands of Sierrans and international migrants to Grands Ballons. It has also been an important center for several major corporations and businesses, especially those involved in finance and trading. It also hosts significant manufacturing and health care sectors, which serves the Saintiana region.

Entertainment and tourism have also been a very important contributor to the city's economy. In 2010, the city spent over $22 million in tourism-related expenditures alone, ranging from promotions to improving public transportation. The downtown area continues to be one of the fastest-growing and rapidly changing parts of Grands Ballons, which has continuously received extensive renovations and earthquake-proofing to support these particular industries.

Port

Aerial view of the Port of Grands Ballons

The Port of Grands Ballons as seen from the air.

The Port of Grands Ballons is a gateway between Anglo-American and Asian trade, and spans across 3,000 acres of land just southwest and adjacent to Downtown Grands Ballons. The second-largest port in Sierra, it adjoins the Port of Porciúncula, the country's largest. The two ports and the Port of Little Gibraltar form the Tri-Port Area, a multi-port complex managed under a condominium between the cities of Grands Ballons, Porciúncula, snd Little Gibraltar, and the governments of the Gold Coast and the Channel Islands. Many logistics-related, shipbuilding, transportation, and shipping firms are located in the Grands Ballons metropolitan area, and are directly linked to the distribution centers at the port by rail or road. Major international shipping companies have an established presence in the port, including Penco, CMN, Circumnavigators United, World Trade Shipping, Adai International, and Seven Seas Exchange.

Just miles off the coast of Grands Ballons, there are many offshore oil rigs that are still in active operation. Although oil production has gone down over the years, the Porciúncula Area and surrounding geological regions still contain large reserves of crude oil ready for extraction. The Port of Grands Ballons contains 4 major petroleum refineries and has a combined crude oil distilled capacity of nearly 400,000 barrels per day. Several major energy companies have regional headquarters in Grands Balllons including Western Gas and Bixby. The Ministry of the Interior's Department of Energy has most of its central facilities and research stations based in the Port.

In addition to commercial shipping and freight operations, the Port also functions as a full-service cruise ship port. The Grands Ballons Cruise Hub receives approximately twenty ships a day on a busy holiday schedule, and is a central hub for numerous cruise lines with destinations to Los Pacíficos, Rainier, and Alaska. The Cruise Hub has four passenger terminals for cruise ships and six docks for smaller passenger watercraft.

Banking and finance

Grands Ballons is home to three Fortune 500 companies: Tramex, Vyndal Enterprises, and Rawlings. Other companies with headquarters or major operations in the city includes Del Toro Restaurants, Big Bear Banking, Kennedy, McConnor, MegaMart, Bench & Steer, Corpus Specialists, Cabrillo Technologies, Pham Pho, Fitzgerald Resorts and Entertainment, Palmer Systems, Bixby & Co., Gully's, and Howler. Many large financial institutions, multinational banks, and venture capitalist firms are also based in Grands Ballons. The Ministry of Finance's Bureau of Engraving and Printing, and the Royal Monetary Authority Bank of Grands Ballons are both based in the city's downtown area.

Tourism and entertainment

Tourism is a staple part of the city's economy. The tourism and hospitality industries have accounted for nearly 30 percent of the city's tax revenues, and employs well over 100,000 people from within the city and the metropolitan area. Tourism-related businesses and operations are primarily concentrated in the southwestern section of town, around the downtown area and the beaches. The city has its own dedicated tourism agency, the Grands Ballons Department of Tourism and Recreational Affairs, which represents the single largest agency of its kind in the region. The city has emphasized its strong and rich history, culture, cuisine, arts, and music as reasons which have drawn many to the city, as well as its year-round mild climate and renowned beaches. It also hosts a number of annual international conventions and events, including the Mezzaluna Festival, one of the world's premier cooking competition and conventions, held annually in the month of July.

Top employers

According to the city's 2016 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, the top employers in the city were:

# Employer # of Employees
1 MacLean Healthcare Systems 17,666
2 County of St. Anthony 14,271
3 Grands Ballons Unified School District 13,087
4 City of Grands Ballons 10,539
5 Overstars 7,453
6 Grands Ballons Memorial Medical Center 5,874
7 Tramex 4,788
8 Del Toro Restaurants 4,605
9 Anthony University 3,501
10 Sierra National University, Grands Ballons 2,837

Culture

Cuisine

Mayari

The iconic Mayarí first gained mainstream appeal in Grands Ballons.

Grands Ballons is internationally renowned for its cuisine and is the birthplace of traditional Sierran Creole cuisine. The city's rich culinary traditions are the result of diverse, converging cultures and peoples interacting and sharing food throughout the centuries. Local ingredients have infused the culinary innovations of the French, the Spanish, the Creoles, the Mexicans, the Italians, the Germans, the Japanese, the Chinese, the Hans, the Vietnamese, and other ethnic groups who arrived and settled in the city. The city scene is dominated by cafés, coffeeshops, bakeries, restaurants dedicated towards Sierran Creole fare, dessiné shops, and bodegas. Brunch is served daily at many restaurants, and it is not uncommon for popular eateries to serve alcohol at discounted prices during extended happy hours.

Several iconic local dishes which emerged from Grands Ballons includes the chicken dessiné, a savory meat-based ragout served with rice, and now commonly prepared as a hot box dish; the Ragoût Nantua, a seafood quenelle stew smothered in Sauce Nantua; the Mereterre sandwich; and taiyaki-styled beignets.

Aside from its local cuisine, Grands Ballons is also a hotspot for Sierran street food and international flavors, drawing food from Asia, Latin America, the Middle East, and Europe. Like many major cities in Sierra, Grands Ballons hosts prominent night markets, with the biggest one centered in the East Village, offering a variety of familiar foods ranging from hot dogs to potstickers, alongside unconventional, bizarre kinds including fried locusts and deep-fried rat meat.

Grands Ballons is also well-known for its strong drinking culture, which contrasts with the traditionally "drier" Sierran culture, which discourages alcoholic consumption. The world famous Mayarí was first popularized in Grands Ballons, and inspired a friendly environment for experimental cocktails. Aside from specializing in cocktails and wine, the city also has a prevalent beer and coffee tradition, hosting numerous microbreweries and coffeeshops.

Museums, music, and the arts

Mardi Gras Float

A Mardi Gras procession in the Old Spanish Town

Grands Ballons has always been a significant center for music and art. Its musical scene is the culmination of its colonial past and multicultural development, which grew out of the musical traditions of the Sierran Creoles and the many other groups who lived in the city. The city's unique combination of Franco-Spanish music with African and Caribbean rhythms spawned shoowah music, and was a major center for the development of Sierran jazz, and later hip hop. It also developed a distinctive style of rock music, known as the ritz, which was popular during the early 70s and 80s. Spontaneous jazz band processions and parades are common throughout the city, and are commonly seen performing for weddings, funerals, baptisms, and birthdays. Historically, these processions were useful for promoting community events, and were inclusive events meant to encourage would-be bystanders to join in celebration.

Numerous music festivals are held throughout the year with the busiest season between Mardi Gras (usually around March) and Labor Day (early September). The nighttime Grands Bash by the Sea is the city's largest musical festival, held during July, showcasing locally well-known bands and musicians, performing in a variety of genres ranging from traditional shoowah to contemporary rhythm and blues. This event, along with a number of others including the French Bonanza and the Feedback Loop Festival are held at the Jean P. Chouteau Park by the Porciúncula River. Professionally, the Grands Ballons Philharmonic Orchestra and the Grands Ballons Wind Symphony performs at the Langley Hall of Music in the Circle Area district.

Shoowah

A band of shoowah players

Due to the city's cosmopolitan and bohemian environment, Grands Ballons attracts tens of thousands of artists annually. The Old Spanish Town and East Village hosts over forty-five permanent art galleries and exhibitions, promoting art from local artists including paintings, sculptures, drawings, and other mediums. The Cantrell Museum of Art is the city's largest museum, showcasing over 1,200 works of art across several eras including Renaissance, contemporary, and modern art. In 2009, the K.S. Ministry of Culture provided a $45 million endowment grant to the city of Grands Ballons to promote the arts and art education. The Spiegel Glass Museum is another prominent art and science museum, exclusively displaying glass objects, documenting the history, and practical and artistic applications of glass.

The performing arts, including theater and dance, are all performed at the Grands Ballons Convention Center and the adjacent Grand Theater. Over the years, many major productions have been featured at the center, including The Count of Sardinia, Dastardly, Fortuna Forsaken, and Landon: The Musical. Historically, French opera has also been performed, and saw its golden age during the 1950s and 1960s. Due to rising popularity and demand, the city has looked into constructing additional venues to accommodate more performances and guests.

Dialect

Grands Ballons has a distinct local dialect of Sierran English that is similar to Caribbean English with French and Hispanic influences. It developed from the English speaking patterns of the Sierran Creoles, who were and continue to use French as their first language, and further influenced by African American Vernacular English spoken by more recent African Americans and Southern American English by white speakers. Phonologically, it is most similar to Haitian English with a noticeable French intonation and semi-rhoticity. Grands Ballons English is a variety of the broad spectrum of Sierran Creole English, which has many borrowed lexicon and expressions from French, Spanish, and other languages.

French language

Arret sign

A stop sign in French and English (Arrêt and stop) on a North Grands Ballons street.

Like much of the Saintiana region and the neighboring Channel Islands, the French language has thrived and its usage is protected and promoted by the local governments. As one of the country's official languages, French is also a working language in the city of Grands Ballons. Street signs, documents, and other public information is frequently displayed bilingually, with English and French. The use of Sierran French Hanzi is also common throughout the city, and is taught in French-speaking classes throughout the city's public schools. The French language emerged from the French Channeliers who settled in the region and intermarried with the natives and other people of color. Its growing reputation as a French-speaking enclave in an otherwise Spanish-speaking territory sparked interest in Francophones who felt linguistically threatened in Anglo-America. The arrival of the Louisiana Creoles and the Haitian gens du couleur and their subsequent progeny helped cement French as the predominant language in the region. The ethnogenesis of the Sierran Creole people only furthered the extent of French as a language and an identity. The Sierran Creoles fought diligently to preserve their French tongue under the English-centric Californian, and later, Sierran governments. A series of laws passed during the Sierran Cultural Revolution helped protect French use definitively, and allowed Grands Ballons' French-teaching institutions and programs to be subsidized by the federal government.

Government

Grands Ballons Civic Center

The Grands Ballons Civic Center

The government of the City of Grands Ballons operates under a council–manager government. Citywide elections for most offices are held every two years, with the city divided into six wards. The Grands Ballons City Council includes nine members, six of whom are elected from each of the single-member wards, and three who are elected at-large. The mayor is elected from within the council as a first among equals and is chosen to chair its meetings and represent the city on ceremonial occasions. The current mayor of Grands Ballons is Earl Hughes Delafose (D), who was elected by the council on April 23, 2015. The council is empowered to pass citywide ordinances, adopt regulations, appoint officials in other offices, approve the city budget, set the tax rate, and carry out any other powers granted by the City Charter. In addition, the council appoints a city manager who is responsible for planning and creating an annual city budget, supervising each of the city departments, overseeing public complaints and intergovernmental correspondence, advising the council on operational affairs, organizing public events and meetings, and developing architectural plans for construction projects in the city. The current city manager is Marco Regalado (ind.), who was appointed on June 18, 2014.

The Grands Ballons Police Department (GBPD) has a force of over 3,500 sworn officers. The GBPD serves the City of Grands Ballons, as well as neighboring unincorporated communities, and cities which have entered into contract agreements with the department. The Chief of Police is Tyler Bertrand, who was sworn into office on February 8, 2008. Its headquarters is located in Downtown Grands Ballons on 3783 East Broadway, with two other stations in North Grands Ballons and the Old Spanish Town respectively. The Grands Ballons Fire Department has 459 full-time firefighters and works closely with the St. Anthony County Fire Department in fire prevention and firefighting. The city fire department is also responsible for providing emergency medical service, with all of the department's sworn members certified in performing CPR and basic life support. Its emergency medical service's members are paramedics and health care specialists employed to performing advanced life support and assisting the department in ambulance services.

In addition to city government and services, Grands Ballons is the seat of St. Anthony County. The St. Anthony Sheriff's Department, the St. Anthony Fire Department, Superior Court of St. Anthony County, St. Anthony County Jail, St. Anthony's Department of Human and Health Services, and other county institutions are all based in the city. The county's Board of Supervisors conduct their daily meetings at the county offices in the Civic Center in Downtown Grands Ballons.

Crime and public safety

Grands Ballons
Crime rates* (2016)
Violent crimes
Homicide 66
Forcible rape 362
Robbery 2,146
Aggravated assault 3,042
Total violent crime 5,616
Property crimes
Burglary 4,230
Larceny-theft 9,322
Motor vehicle theft 2,972
Arson 49
Total property crime 16,573
Notes

*Number of reported crimes per 100,000 population.

2016 population: 683,384
Like most major cities, crime has always been a serious issue for Grands Ballons. Violent crimes are mainly concentrated in the city's less affluent neighborhoods, especially North Grands Ballons. The murder rate has historically been higher than the national average, although a large percentage of murders were the result of gang-on-gang violence. The number of homicides reached its peak in the 1970s when the city saw 279 murders in 1977. In response to increased crime, the city passed a series of ordinances to crack down on gang violence, including the banning of attire that depicted gang symbols and colors. In 1981, the city was listed at third place for the Top 10 Murder Cities in the country, behind Bernheim and Porciúncula.

Aside from murders, other major violent crimes committed in the city include robbery, assault and battery, car theft, and rape. Although violent crime as a whole has been in decline, the city has seen a steady rise in domestic violence cases, and misdemeanors by the city youth. Throughout the city, special emergency hotline poles have been installed. Brightly lit during the nighttime, citizens witnessing or escaping an active criminal act can press the pole's button to alert law enforcement authorities, and help bring attention to the location. Since the installment of the poles, crime has dropped significantly around these poles, and the police has been able to capture more criminals in such areas.

To prevent crimes against private property, many city businesses are heavily fortified with metal bars and armed with CCTVs and alarms. Since a 2009 ordinance, all lodging establishments have been required to deny any non-guests access to any parts of the establishment except the lobby or its affiliated restaurants or stores. In addition, a citywide curfew has periodically been issued for underaged minors to halt nighttime youth gang activity, including the Old Spanish Town (parentally supervised children and adolescents are exempt). Some have taken further measures on controlling access at the front door by manually locking it, and only allowing access to cardholders and other individuals at a case-by-case basis from a security officer. Despite this, many bars and restaurants have had very lax standards regarding public safety. Due to city tolerance, these establishments may stay open past midnight and may continue serving alcohol until 3 am.

The city also sees some of the highest rates in larceny and car-related theft, which is not limited to the underdeveloped parts of town. Theft has become an increasingly problematic issue in the more tourist-friendly parts of Grands Ballons. Local authorities caution visitors to be vigilant about pickpockets and con artists. These criminals frequently take advantage of tourists' unfamiliarity with the city and crime. First-time tourists and international tourists are especially vulnerable due to their general assumption of safety in being in a public, tourist section of town.

Federal, provincial, local, and CAS representation

Federal
House of Commons Senate
Name Party District Name Party
Felix Sypher Democratic-Republican District 7 (Bixby) Daniel Laaksonen Democratic-Republican
Jimmy Fernandez Democratic-Republican District 8 (Putian) Christopher Chu Democratic-Republican
Timothy Lawrence Royalist District 11 (St. Anthony) Jason Alonzoa Royalist
Provincial
General Assembly Senate
Name Party District Name Party District
Karen Thibodeaux Democratic-Republican District 29 Derrick Maloney Democratic-Republican District 5
Matt Branche Democratic-Republican District 30 Robbie Broussard Democratic-Republican District 6
Charlie Iwancio Democratic-Republican District 31 Megan Higgins Democratic-Republican District 7
Craig Landry Democratic-Republican District 32 Romero Cardoso Social Democrats District 8
Ashley Menendez Democratic-Republican District 33 Peter Tieu Royalist District 9
Nathan Wu Democratic-Republican District 34
Davis Caffery Royalist District 35
Cindy Treen Social Democrats District 36
Karim O'Brian Social Democrats District 37
Marcus Tauzin Libertarian District 38
Jessica Ortiz Democratic-Republican District 39
Mailey Burgett Democratic-Republican District 40
CAS
Parliament of America
Mark Sato Democratic-Republican (Liberal Democrats of America) Saintiana
aAppointed

Courts

  • Federal
    • District Court for the Southern District of the Gold Coast
    • Sierran Bankruptcy Court, 1st Circuit Bankruptcy Appellate Panel
    • Sierran Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of the Southwest Corridor

  • Heraldic
    • Court of the Lord Trenton in the Gold Coast

As a county seat and a major city in the Greater Porciúncula Area, Grands Ballons is the site of several judicial courts, including federal and provincial-level courts. The St. Anthony County Superior Court has jurisdiction over all of Grands Ballons and St. Anthony County, and includes several divisions (Juvenile Court, Court of Small Claims, Traffic Court, and Family Law Division), all located within the city. The Superior Court gained media attention during the highly prolific 2003 People v. J. P. Marsh murder case. Judge Maylene Takano presided over the trial, which involved former AAFL Grands Ballons Martyrs quarterback J. P. Marsh, the plaintiff, who was tried on two counts of murder, for the deaths of his longtime girlfriend Joyce Dawson, and their mutual friend Simon Becker. The controversial and racially-charged case, dubbed the "Trial of the Century" by Sierran media outlets, ended with the acquittal of J. P. Marsh on both charges as not proven.

Federal facilities

ROMA Bank of Grands Ballons

The Royal Monetary Authority Bank of Grands Ballons

Grands Ballons is home to the offices of numerous federal agencies and facilities, including the Royal Monetary Authority Bank of Grands Ballons, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, the Royal Bureau of Investigation, the National Surveyors' Corps, and the Domestic Security Agency, In addition, several international countries have consular offices represented in the city.

The Royal Monetary Authority Bank of Grands Ballons is the federal bank for the third district in Sierra and has one of the largest collections of K.S. paper money in reserves. The bank opened for business on November 9, 1945, following World War II, in the midst of the city's oil boom. It was originally intended to house additional paper money to relieve the amount stored in the Royal Bank in Porciúncula, and to be closer to the seaport, where money could be shipped out to Sierra's overseas territories. The Royal Bank building houses numerous commissioned paintings created by Sierran painter Pietro Barbieri during the Great Depression, documenting the hardships of Sierran citizens during the troublesome times.

Elections and politics

Grands Ballons has been a reliable base for the Democratic-Republican Party since 1953. It has voted for Democratic-Republican prime minister candidates since the 1953 election, with 57.2% Sierran Creole voters choosing Henry Faulkner over Royalist incumbent and rival Christopher Roux. The city has also elected Social Democrats into office, mostly at the local and provincial level, with the highest support for Social Democrats in North Grands Ballons and the Old Spanish Town neighborhoods. Since 1996, the city has had uninterrupted Democratic-Republican control over the municipal government. These political patterns mirror those reflected by the County of St. Anthony and the Province of the Gold Coast, which has primarily been under Democratic-Republican control since that same year. Despite this, some of Grands Ballons' most affluent neighborhoods, including Naples, have strong Royalist support, and are represented by Royalist policymakers in Parliament and the Gold Coast Provincial Legislature. In addition, among the city's whites, Asians, and hapas, more than half vote for Royalists or Libertarians.

Education

Public schools

The largest public school district in Grands Ballons and St. Anthony County is the Grands Ballons Unified School District (GBUSD), which comprises of 97 schools and 9 charter schools, servicing the city of Grands Ballons, and portions of Putian Park, and the entirety of Porcupine Hill. The district has been uniform-mandatory since 1994, meaning all students (with exceptions) are required to wear school uniforms at all times, while on campus. The District educates over 160,000 students, the fourth-largest in the country. The district has been frequently criticized for its overcrowded campuses, and has been marred with spending scandals and child sex abuse cases. Over half of its schools were classified as "underperforming" by the K.S. Ministry of Education, and the district as a whole, only had a high school graduation rate of 79%, one of the lowest percentages in proportion to its population size. More than two-thirds of its student population come from low-income families, with most receiving free or reduced-cost lunch. Since 2009, the district has offered free lunch to K-12 students, regardless of actual attendance or not, during the summer months when there is no school.

Small sections of the city have schools falling under the jurisdiction of other school districts. Northeastern Grands Ballons is serviced by the Putian Park Unified School District whereas the schools in the Naples neighborhood are independent schools which resisted incorporation into GBUSD. The northernmost schools in Grands Ballons are served by Compton Unified School District.

Private schools

Private schools in Grands Ballons include both secular and parochial:

  • Bixby Chartered Boarding School (9-12)
  • Roxane Knolls Academy (PreK-12)
  • Nazareth Christian Academy (K-12)
  • Grands Ballons Adventist Academy (K-12)
  • St. Anthony High School (9-12)
  • Spirit of Prophecy Christian School (K-12)
  • Saintiana International School (K-12)
  • St. Thomas Lutheran School (K-8)
  • Grands Ballons Baptist Academy (K-12)
  • Grands Ballons Talmud Torah (PreK-8)

Colleges and universities

Walter Pyramid

The Walter Pyramid at Sierra National University, Grands Ballons.

There are several institutions of higher education in Grands Ballons:

  • Sierra National University, Grands Ballons (SNUGB), a large research university affiliated with Sierra National University founded in 1949
  • Grands Ballons City College, a public community college with two extension campuses in the Grands Ballons metropolitan area
  • Anthony University, a private Catholic university founded in 1927
  • Southern Sierra Institute of Culinary Arts (CulArts), a culinary school founded in 1937
  • Bixby School of the Arts and Music (BSAM), a visual and performing arts school founded in 1956
  • Grands Ballons School of Theology, a nondenominational Christian theological seminary and Bible college

The Sierra National University, Grands Ballons is the city's largest and most prominent institution of higher education. Located just east of the Circle Area district, the university had a campus size of nearly 40,000 students. The campus is one of the most selective in the entire Sierra National University system, and has consistently ranked high in national and Anglo-American lists for its academic excellence and student life.

Sports

Martyrs

The Grands Ballons Martyrs is a football team that plays at the Von Holt Arena in Downtown Grands Ballons.

Club Sport League Venue (capacity) Founded Titles Record Attendance
Grands Ballons Martyrs American football AAFL Overstars Center (67,320) 1959 4 67,121
Grands Ballons Titans Basketball CBA Air Sierra Arena (37,809) 1973 2 36,553
Grands Ballons Clashers Baseball CLB Tri-Port Field Park (40,556) 1968 1 22,930
Grands Ballons National 49ers American football AACA Div I (OCE-12) Veterans Memorial Stadium (11,600) 1954 3 11,829
Grands Ballons National Dirtbags Baseball AACA Div I (OCE-12) Blair Field (2,573) 1954 12 2,780
Grands Ballons Sirens F.C. Association football (soccer) RLS TickX Forum (32,000) 1989 2 27,621
Grands Ballons is home to three professional teams: Anglo-American Football League's Grands Ballons Martyrs, who play at the Overstars Center; Conference Baseball Association's Grands Ballons Titans, who play at the Air Sierra Arena and Exhibition Center; and Conference League Baseball's Grands Ballons Clashers, who play at the Tri-Port Field Park. The city is also home to the Grands Ballons Comets, a women's basketball team, and the Grands Ballons Supreme, a hockey team. It is also home to the Grands Ballons National 49ers and Dirtbags, both of which are part of Sierra National University's athletic program. The program is officially part of the AACA Division I in the Occidental Conference (OCE-12). In addition to having all four major professional teams represented, Grands Ballons is also home to the Royal League Sierra's Grands Ballons Sirens F.C., which plays at the TickX Forum in the neighboring city of Putian Hills.

In the past, Grands Ballons has hosted several sports events, including the Mega Bowl championships and venues for the Olympic Games. Both Mega Bowl championship games were held at the Overstars Center, between the Lansing Lancers and the Minneapolis Junkers in 1992, and between the Porciúncula Princes and the Houston Brazos in 2007 respectively. Two of Anglo-American college football's bowl games are held in Grands Ballons: the Carnival Bowl and the Dessiné Bowl. The city also hosts the Grand Ballons Prix, which features formula cars running through a closed-circuit path that loops around Downtown Grands Ballons. The Grands Ballons Marathon runs every October and draws in as many as 55,000 participants, including runners and cyclists.

Sites of interest

HIMS Queen Angelina

HIMS Queen Angelina

Grands Ballons is a highly popular tourist destination, with many visitor attractions. It has consistently ranked in the Top 10 most visited cities in Anglo-America, receiving in over 18.5 million visitors each year. It sees its busiest season during Mardi Gras and spring break, attracting young adults and pensioners alike thanks to its live music concerts, happy hours, street festivities, rave parties, and dance clubs. The center of Grands Ballons' partying scene is in the Old Spanish Town, which extends into the East Village and Petit-Rivière. Aside from adult-oriented entertainment, the city also offers plenty of family-friendly forms of entertainment including the world-acclaimed Grands Ballons Aquarium, The Merlin Amusement Pier, Splash N' Thrash Water Park, and the Grands Ballons Zoo. In addition, the city is home to the HIMS Queen Angelina (formerly commissioned as the RMS Queen Mary), a retired ocean liner permanently docked in Downtown where she remains as a public museum and hotel.

The Old Spanish Town (known locally as simply, the Town), which was historically a ranchería established by the Spanish colonial government in the late 18th-century, contains vintage hotels, bed and breakfasts, bars, nightclubs, antique stores, cafés, restaurants, and boutique stores. It has been the premier location for tourism in the city, and has attracted millions for its colonial charm, bustling party scene, and vibrant culture. Notable tourist attractions in the Town include Magnolia Street (Rue Magnolia), the Basilica of Our Lady of Catalina, Backpackers' Row, Edison Square, Bixby Historic Mansion, and the Hall of the Greats. The Town is also home to the Jean P. Chouteau Park, which straddles alongside the Porciúncula River, and features a prominent botanical garden and a large community center. A recently introduced attraction is the horse-drawn carriage tours, which allows visitors to explore the streets of the Town at a leisurely pace. Various tour guides are offered daily, with each offering a different theme or approach to the Town, including nighttime ghost tours and history-oriented daytime tours.

Adjacent to the Old Spanish Town is the East Village, which features contemporary, modern architecture and upscale businesses and shopping centers. Various internationally renowned restaurants have operations in this part of town, attracting gastronomes worldwide. The East Village is home to a younger population and is fully invested in an artistic, bohemian culture not unlike that in the Old Spanish Town. It is a prominent LGBT-friendly section of town and features gay-friendly bars and establishments.

In addition to the city's numerous museums, art galleries, theaters, and performance halls in Downtown and the Arts District (see this section), Grands Ballons has many parks and public spaces. The Jean P. Chouteau Park, the city's largest and oldest park, is home to a large botanical garden which grows over 60 native species of plants, and has one of the largest collections of flowers in the Western Hemisphere in the park's Central Arboretum. In the Naples neighborhood, the Los Alamitos Wetlands Wildlife Preserve, has been protected and conserved by the Creole Conservancy Trust, which protects southern Sierra's endangered wetland ecosystems.

Aside from the city's beachfront attractions, several private companies and agencies offer boat trips and guides across the harbor. Waterborne activities including jet-skiing, kayaking, and surfing are especially popular during the spring and summer season, although is available year-round. There are also daily ferrying between Grands Ballons and Little Gibraltar in the Channel Islands, offering an alternative to the Bonaparte–San Pedro Tunnel for motorists traveling to the Channels. The highly esteemed and historic SS Thebes, a steamship built in the late 19th century, remains in full operation. The steamboat offers a leisurely trip around the bay with full-service buffet or three-course meals while a live band performs variety music.

Media

Due to its proximity to Porciúncula, Grands Ballons shares its media market with the larger city, meaning virtually all of the city's major news channels and radio stations also serve the Greater Porciúncula Area as a whole. Each of the five largest national television networks, RBS, Tokki, ENC, 16ON, and SBC, have high-definition television stations near Grands Ballons (in the city of Providencia) (WRMX 2, WGS 4, WKMT 5, KPLA 7, and KPIN 11). Nearly every other significant television networks are also represented in the area and serve Grands Ballons, alongside the rest of the Greater Porciúncula Area.

  • 11 KPIN (SBC)
  • 13 WGBF (TV Monde)
  • 18 WGBA (Nueva Vida)
  • 22 KGAM (Ascensión)

  • 32 KJXL (Public Link)
  • 36 KPIN (Medi)
  • 40 KHOA (TBC)
  • 42 KWEX (SNN)

Grands Ballons has one local newspaper, the Grands Ballons Observer, which publishes daily, covering world, national, and local news pertaining to the Saintiana region. The Observer has a daily circulation of 213,982 and a Sunday circulation of 338,309. The publishers of the Observer also produce a monthly popular culture and lifestyle magazine, the Grands Ballons Traveler. Its main competitor is the Grands Ballons edition of the Porciúncula Times, which sees a daily circulation of 179,014. The Sierra National University, Grands Ballons produces a student-run newspaper, the Forty-Niner Bee, which publishes Mondays to Thursdays, during the fall and spring semesters.

Grands Ballons and Saintiana are part of the Greater Porciúncula Area Designated Market Area. Like in television, the city shares practically all of its radio stations with the rest of the region. It is the headquarters of several radio stations in both AM and FM frequencies, most of which are broadcast in French.

Due to a combination of the city's proximity to Hollywood and its own fame as a culturally unique and iconic city, Grands Ballons has been a frequent setting and subject in Hollywood films, television, and music. Its variety of locations and its friendly policies towards filmmakers have allowed the city to stand-in for shoots or scenes for many places around the world and within Sierra. The city has also been home to local television studios, the most famous of which is Balboa Studios, which operated from 1913 to 1997. The Kimmy Awards-winning television series Hempire takes place and is shot in Grands Ballons, with filmography and principal photography done at various locations including Grands Ballons Polytechnic High School and St. Charles Boulevard. The city was also the subject of the 2007 post-apocalyptic horror film The Final Coda, which depicted Grands Ballons in ruins and inhabited by hostile mutant zombies.

Transportation

Airports

Grands Ballons Airport

Logo of the Grands Ballons International Airport

Grands Ballons and its immediate vicinity is primarily serviced by the Grands Ballons International Airport, located in the Circle Area. The airport is one of the nation's busiest, and was opened in 1994 to relieve congestion from the nearby busier and larger LAX as a relief airport. It has since expanded to accommodate its own international service flights, and is the hub for the airline Sierrair. In addition, there are several other regional airports within half an hour driving distance, including the Queen Angelina International Airport in St. Anne, Orange. Grands Ballons International contained the third busiest traffic and third largest passenger volume in the country. As of 2017, the airport has handled more than 24 million passengers per year, with service to more than 50 destinations, and hosting flights from 14 different airlines. The airport includes non-stop flights to destinations in Rainier, Brazoria, the United Commonwealth, Hani, Japan, China, Korea, South Vietnam, Mexico, Colombia, and Alaska. Scheduled bus stops and shuttle lines help connect travelers to and from the airport to the hotels throughout the city. A Grands Ballons metro line is also connected directly to the airport, which connects passengers to the Great Sierran Rail Network.

The smaller McDonnell Douglas Airport is located in the neighborhood of Laumet. The airport is the city's hub for general aviation, and it devotes over 75% of its air traffic and operations to flights falling within this category. Only a small fraction of scheduled flights arrive and depart from this airport, with the rest mainly consisting of air taxi and military air operations.

Roads

Paul Dresden Bridge

The Paul Dresden Bridge and GC Provincial Route 5

Grands Ballons is served by six controlled-access highways (freeways), of which two are Interprovincials (Interprovincial 2B and Interprovincial 2C). This freeway system connects Grands Ballons with the rest of Greater Porciúncula and Orange areas. The I-2B travels northwest–southeast through the center of the city as the Saintiana Expressway. It continues into the city of Garçonville to the west and the Gold CoastOrange border (at the town of Rossmoor) to the east. The I-2B splits from the I-2B near this border, just outside the city limits, before entering and then exiting a short, narrow section of the eastern Grands Ballons neighborhood of El Dorado. It is a major freeway that runs north–south, and directs traffic in the region towards the San Gabriel Valley.

The famous K.S. Scenic Route 16 runs west–east through most of Grands Ballons before making a sharp southeast turn towards the city of Pinnipède-Landing. Before exiting the city, the scenic highway spurs off the intersection between East 7th Street and the western terminus of the K.S. Route 22–Interprovincial 2B concurrency. Short sections of the small provincial highways, Route 47 and Route 103 run along the southwestern extremity of the city, terminating near or on Terminal Island. Provincial Route 5 is a major spur route from Porciúncula that runs alongside western Grands Ballons, and terminates in the city of New Granada. This route is one of the busiest in the nation and is a vital link for trucks transporting goods in and out of the Tri-Port Area.

In addition to the Interprovincials and Gold Coast Provincial Routes, the city is served by numerous major arterial roads, which runs through the busiest and densest sections of the city. The most prominent bridge in the city is the Paul Dresden Bridge on Provincial Route 5. The through arch bridge crosses over the Back Channel to Terminal Island in the Port of Grands Ballons. Portions of the Peter Greason Bridge is within Grands Ballons city limits. Another noteworthy bridge is the Queensway Bridge, which connects Carnival Peninsula to Downtown Grands Ballons, over Queensway Bay of the Porciúncula River. It is known for its bright, colorful nighttime display, and its holiday decorations during the Christmas season and other times of the years.

Major freeways

Rail

GBM

Logo of the GBM (Grands Ballons Metro)

The Greater Porciúncula Metropolitan Authority (the Porcy Metro) operates its services and lines within Grands Ballons and St. Anthony County as the Grands Ballons Metro. Its primary line is the Cobalt Line, a light rail service which connects the Grands Ballons Downtown Station with the Metro Center in Downtown Porciúncula. Along the Cobalt Line are stops are the Gateway Cities and the southern neighborhoods of Porciúncula. From the Compton Station, passengers can connect to the MetroLink, which forms an integral part of the Great Sierran Rail Network, with lines throughout the Greater Porciúncula Area and beyond. In addition to the Cobalt Line, Grands Ballons is also a stop at the west–east Orange Line, which transit users can access to travel to cities in Orange and the Inland Empire. Smaller light rail routes and connections have been developed over the years, as mandated under the federal National Public Rail Transportation Act of 1996, which brought much-needed public transportation projects to lower income neighborhoods, including those in Grands Ballons.

Buses and streetcars

Grands Ballons Transit provides local public transportation within Grands Ballons, Porcupine Hill, and Putian Park. As of 2017, the city operates over 220 buses running on 40 bus routes, with most regular service bus routes beginning and ending at the Downtown Grands Ballons station near the Hotel Center. Since 2002, the entire Transit bus line runs over 75% of its fuel on natural gas and other biodiesel in order to reduce the city's carbon footprint. It makes connecting stops to other bus lines outside its service area, mostly to neighboring communities. In addition to the standard buses, the Transit operates full-service shuttle lines, ferrying passengers from the city to the Grands Ballons International Airport and LAX. The shuttle is free to the public and a rotating line of shuttles arrives at key stops every 15 minutes from 5:30 am to 9:30 pm daily.

Bicycling and walkability

In 2014, Grands Ballons was awarded the Most Bicycle-Friendly City in Sierra by Cyclist Digest for its extensive network of bike paths and bicyclist-friendly infrastructure. A total of 80 miles of Class 1 bicycle paths (separated off-road bike paths) have been completed, with many Class 2 bike paths (painted line paths alongside public roads) and Class 3 (connecting paths to roads with cars) paths in the city. The city was one of the first in Sierra to promote and provide bike-sharing, which is provided by the Grands Ballons Public Bicycle Corporation, a gentrified trust operating on behalf of the city. The Shoreline Trail, a 4.6 mile long path along the coastline, is one of the busiest paths in the region, and attracts bike traffic continuously. As part of the city's Greener Earth Initiative, the government has sought to add more bike lanes to existing roads, and build more signage and lights to facilitate safer cycling conditions throughout the city. The city's simple grid plan, generally flat topography, and mild weather have been attributed to high ridership in the city.

According to Pacific Living's Walkability Index, Grands Ballons was the twelfth most walkable major city in Sierra and the twenty-second in Anglo-America in 2015. The review noted the city's "outstanding and ongoing commitment" towards improving pedestrian-friendly infrastructure and its large density of pedestrian/cyclist-exclusive paths. It also praised the city's brightly lit walking spaces and overall orderly maintenance in the downtown area.

Ferries and watercraft

Grands Ballons operates four full-time ferry routes within its harbors. The Great French Route connects passengers from The Merlin docking area to Little Gibraltar, which takes roughly an hour. Alternating catamaran ferries leave and arrive the dock every half an hour, and can each transport as much as 1,200 passengers including the crew. The shorter Inter-Harbor Route transports passengers between the Carnival Peninsula and Petite-Rivière. Both landing areas are near bus stops as well.

Notable people

Sister cities

Grands Ballons has nine sister cities, and the year of initial partnership is provided:

See also

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