New York City is the most populous and most important city in post-Emergence America, circa 2039. In many ways, it is the Platonic ideal of an Enclave city; every other major city shares at least some elements with New York.
By modern reckoning, Manhattan is New York, the other boroughs are separate municipalities (a consequence of the breakdown of order during the plague). The center of the city, the core, comprises the neighborhoods from Midtown to the Battery. A clean and relatively peaceful place, it houses not only the city’s businesses and residential districts, but the national government as well (headquartered in the old UN building).
There are a great many neighborhoods in the core, some patrolled more frequently and more thoroughly than others. Residents pay an annual fee for residency badges, which gives them permission to live in specific neighborhoods and access “munies” (municipal services like policing, water, power, sewage, trash collection, snow removal, pothole maintenance, etc.) The more exclusive the neighborhood, the more expensive the badge, the better the policing and munies. (This residency fee is the replacement for the old income tax.) This pattern is followed across the country. The irony is that, for all that the feds rail against private security companies, they are, through residency fees, simply the biggest one.
Residency badges are a big deal, as is having one revoked. Building security and patrolling police have the right to check badges at any time, and people are required to keep them on hand. People who carry fake badges are detained (in the notoriously brutal city holding cells) and exiled. Serious offenses merit revocation of residency rights, and expulsion from the core.
Surrounding the core are “the jungles”. These neighborhoods lie outside the police cordon, and have no official access to munies. Policing is handled on an ad-hoc basis, by vigilante committees, criminal gangs, and private security firms. (Sometimes it’s difficult to tell these apart.) Other munies are also ad hoc, jungle residents maintaining infrastructure themselves, or contracting with a private municipal firm (called “bundeskorp”). Jungle residents are technically citizens, but have few rights.
The rotting plague and the aftermath killed 60% of the country. Like most cities, large chunks of New York (called “the wastes”) are mostly empty, abandoned to the elements. These deserted areas, outside the jungles, are a dangerous urban wasteland, filled with eaters (often feral), Emerged creatures, and many other dangers.
Scattered here and there in the wastes are compounds run by chartered companies. Chartered companies are businesses who pay an annual fee for certain legal rights, one of which is the right to operate in unincorporated areas (areas fully outside the control of the Feds) with near impunity. They can seize land and property from non-citizens, can train and maintain private security forces (in essence, their own armies), and have free reign on their compounds to do as they see fit (within a few strict limits). [These companies are analogous to the East India Company, except that colonizing other countries, they colonize unincorporated territory.]
Outside company compounds, the core is the safest area in the city. But even it isn’t fully secure. Gangs and creatures can make their way into the core, and do with some frequency. More, the underground tunnels (of which there are hundreds of miles) are sealed off, a haven for ghouls, other eaters, and the vilest sorts of Emerged monsters. Very frequently, these break through the barricades blocking off the subways and other tunnels, and make their way into the city to prey on innocents.
The tunnels out of the city are collapsed, filled with water. There are three surviving bridges off the island: Brooklyn, Williamsburg, and the George Washington. The first two are mostly well-maintained, a duty NYC shares with the neighboring Bronx Independent Municipality.
The George Washington is one of the most crucial routes out of the city, unfortunately it’s far to the north, well into the wastes. The bridge itself is maintained by Jersey, who charges convoys ruinous fees to cross. Unfortunately, they only police the bridge itself, so everything between the core and the bridge is no man’s land.
Trade convoys to and from the farming communities upstate travel the bridge route, but go loaded for bear. On a good day, the trip out of town is like a peaceful journey through occupied territory: tense, but uneventful. On a bad day, it’s Baghdad.