Rebecca asked:

I just started reading this and I'm really confused about one thing! It sounds like all of the streets are built up, but the sidewalks and front doors remain at a lower level--as if the sidewalks are at the bottom of very deep gutters. And the streets were built up because of tidal flooding? Doesn't that mean that all the storm runoff and tides will constantly be flooding people's houses?

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Eric I expect this is loosely based on the events after the Great Seattle Fire of 1889. Seattle decided to simultaneously rebuild the 30-some blocks that burned down and regrade some of the steeper sections of the area, which led to a period of time with a very similar feel to the streets and sidewalks as portrayed in the book. The wikipedia page on the Seattle Underground has a decent description of what happened in real life.

Given the author has said Rapid City is a loose combination of many of the northwest coastal cities, I expect this was the inspiration for her depiction of the town's streets and sidewalks.
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by Elizabeth Bear (Goodreads Author)
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