The Rookery
Owner None Established 2006 (?)
Purpose Don't ask, don't tell
Status Never sleeps

Less than a decade ago, the neighborhood on Staten Island known as the Rookery had a reputation for being a haven for undesirables, and although the world has changed, the facts haven't: It's still the place for people to go if they want to be forgotten. The sprawling slum that's slowly expanded outwards since the start of the Second Civil War reflects the proclivities of those who inhabit it, and is rife with gambling dens and small-time brothels squeezed in between shanties constructed from the ruins and pieces of salvage. Lines of laundry criss-cross primitive electrical wires strung between shelled-out buildings and businesses that are blanketed in ivy in the summer and snow in the winter. Electricity here is spottier than in the Safe Zone, even with its rolling brownouts — but it exists, and that's enough for most.

The open air market aspires to be the famous Red Hook building inside the Safe Zone but does not quite measure up. Trash piles up in the mouths of alleys and in basement stairwells, only reluctantly cleared when the smell becomes too much for adjacent occupants. Vendors pack the streets beginning at dawn and do not close up shop until a few hours before sunrise the next day, leaving only a few precious hours for sleep, just to accommodate the crush of people seeking out a good deal, or their next meal.

Fresh fish on ice and floating in salty brine are always on offer, as well as the fruits and vegetables turned away from Red Hook on account of being on the verge of spoiling. Others advertise cuts of cured meat hanging from hooks to be bundled in stiff brown paper or an unmarked bag. Some make a living by reselling stolen goods, whether electronics, shoes, or even imitation designer handbags. There is a niche for everything and everything here, which makes it a popular destination for visitors from the Safe Zone who might not want to pay a premium price, or who demand the sort of goods that upstanding people might call unsavory.

The Rookery

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