Liberty City in GTA III Era
Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories takes places in the same Liberty City as in Grand Theft Auto III, but is set in 1998, three years before the events in GTA III. As such, the Liberty City Stories rendition of the city explains some of the city's characteristics in GTA III. At the time of Liberty City Stories, the city is officially declared "The least likely place to succeed in America" by an October 30, 1998 issue of the Liberty Tree.
Callahan Bridge and Porter Tunnel
In 1998, the city is depicted undergoing major changes in inter-borough road links. Callahan Bridge, which is expected to connect Staunton Island and Portland Island, is under construction, and is due to be completed in May 1998. The Porter Tunnel is also seen as mostly under construction, but is revealed to have completed segments linking the Shoreside Vale exits. The segment linking Staunton is unfinished but still accessible, as shown when Toni Cipriani is seen driving a van through the area to reach Fort Staunton in Staunton. Construction of the Portland segment, however, had yet to begin, as the area is still in the process of excavating a tunnel.
While no road links exist between Portland and the rest of Liberty City, the inter-borough subway system remains connected to all three boroughs, allowing pedestrians to travel between the areas with fewer restrictions.
Ferry services and strikes
Because road connections to Portland are unavailable in 1998, the island is initially accessible by car in ferries between Harwood, on the northwest end of Portland, and Rockford, on the northern end of Staunton Island. Two ferries travel alternately in opposite directions between the ferry terminals, and the service charges $25 for each one-way trip between the islands, as of 1998.
Protest and industrial action by Liberty City transit workers occur in 1998 as a result of the bridge and tunnel construction, as their completion would more or less render ferry services obsolete and unnecessary. Strikers form picket lines outside Portland's ferry terminal and harbor while chanting "Hell no Tunnel no!", shutting down transit communication between boroughs for periods of time: Firstly between Portland Island and the rest of the city with the temporary closure of ferry services, and lastly between Shoreside Vale and the rest of the city after the Portland protests fail and ferries resume operation, when unsatisfied remains of the group protest at an exit of the Shoreside Lift Bridge instead, disrupting bridge operations. The protests finally ends after newly elected Mayor O'Donovan promised "there will always be a ferry service in Liberty City."
Nevertheless, ferry services cease to exist by late-2001. While the Porter Tunnel is still unfinished at the time of GTA III, the completion of the Callahan Bridge suggestively put an end to ferries in the city. The Portland terminal would be the location of the Portland exit for the Porter tunnel by 2001, while Phil's arms dealing business, circa 2001, is located close to the former site of the Staunton terminal.
In Liberty City Stories, the city is in the process of constructing several buildings, including some of Liberty City's tallest. For example, the Jefferson St Credit Union office building, which is the largest and tallest building in Liberty City in GTA III, is under construction in 1998 (with a large construction crane present at its top and only half the height it is in 2001), although it is indicated that it was simply an expansion over the building's existing structure as a few interiors of the building suggest the completed half of the building is operational. As such, the city's Empire State Building look-alike is the tallest tower in Liberty City during the game.
Other noticeable differences include the presence of scaffolding and a construction crane at the main entrance of the Liberty Memorial Colessium, suggesting that the stadium is either under construction or under renovation. A large apartment building in Hepburn Heights is also under construction.
In Staunton Island, a large cemetery exists south beside the Bedford Point Cathedral in Staunton. By 2001, a giant, square-sided and modern building with a sloped roof is built in its place, completely dwarfing the cathedral itself. During a 1998 radio show, a Chatterbox listener phoned in to tell Lazlow he is campaigning to bulldoze the church garden and make way for a concrete square, which would house Internet terminals and foosball tables for parishioners. As with the eventual ban of motorcycles, a real estate company, Jimmy's Commercial Real Estate, is behind this campaign's eventual success, citing that the city's "sick love of death" should be put to a stop and that a building be built in place "for the health of everyone". The construction of the building left the Cathedral with only a thin strip of burial ground on the north side of the Cathedral by late-2001.
In the duration of the game, several other buildings are destroyed or replaced by GTA III. Among them, the Doll House gambling den and brothel, and a Leone-owned factory at Callahan Point (replaced by a Triad fish factory by 2001, when it was also destroyed). Toni Cipriani's apartment in Saint Mark's, Portland would also be in the process of demolition by GTA III.
Perhaps the most notable demolition work in the city was that on Fort Staunton in northeast Staunton Island, consisting of several blocks of business establishments (including a diner), apartments, an opera house and a museum housed within the old fortress that gives the area its name. In GTA III, the area is completely cleared away for the Staunton Plaza, which is under construction in 2001. Liberty City Stories revealed that the area is imploded involuntarily by Toni Cipriani in 1998 with explosives, planted underground in several old and disused subway station platforms, on orders from Donald Love, paving the way for a new property development project. The bombing coincidentally cripples activities of the rival Forelli Mafia family, which conducted much of their activities in the area. Following the destruction of the district, the local media blames the origin of the explosions on the Forelli's underground arms stores beneath the district.
Fort Staunton's defunct subway stations, closed to the public, but accessible via the unfinished Porter Tunnel's Staunton exit is completely cut off from the rest of the subway line and contains older train cars. Seen in only one mission of the game, the stations are picked as prime locations to destroy Fort Staunton, and are located in three points beneath Fort Staunton. The stations are suggestively cleared away along with the remains of the devastated district by 2001.
Although the bombing is made possible by Toni, Donald and explosives specialist 8-Ball, the plans for the area were originally conceived by Avery Carrington, whose plans are stolen by Toni and Donald, as Avery is killed by the two after he exits Francis International with Colombian Cartel bodyguards. After the bombing, development of the site is indicated to involve Panlantic Construction, which remains tied to the Cartel in GTA III. Donald is forced to flee the city after the Cartel attempted to ambush and kill him, leaving Fort Staunton in possession of the gang up to the time of GTA III, when the Yakuza seized the district from them.
1998 Liberty City contains a different distribution of gang activity, particularly with three Mafia families: The Leones, the Forellis and the Sindaccos, all of which assume a larger control on districts in Portland and Staunton than in GTA III. At the time, the three families are at war with each other. Massimo Torini and Salvatore's uncle, members of the Sicilian Mafia, seizes the opportunity by planning to have the families destroy each other, allowing the Sicilian Mafia to fill the void and control the city themselves. Their exploits end abruptly as they attempted to kidnap O'Donovan, the newly elected mayor of the city, to prevent him from dropping charges for Salvatore, who was released from prison on bail. The subsequent pursuit of the Sicilians by the Leones leads to the death of Massimo, and the Sicilian Mafia's retreat from the city.
In addition to Saint Mark's, the Leones have previously controlled at least the northern portion of Chinatown, which would eventually be under control of the Triads by GTA III, as a result of Massimo convincing the gang to seize control of the district to strain the three Mafia families' power. Despite Torini's death, the Leones lose Chinatown to the gang. Meanwhile, the Leones' had manage to seize the Red Light District and Hepburn Heights from the Sindaccos in 1998 before, then, losing Hepburn Heights to the Diablos by GTA III, which are also under Massimo's influence. The Leones' victory over the Forellis and Sindaccos has also allowed the Leones to remain as the dominant Mafia family in the city.
It is revealed that the Forellis are previously a formidable force against the Leones, with addition footholds in Fort Staunton, Newport, and Belleville Park in Staunton Island. In addition, Mayor Hole is on the payroll of the Forellis, creating trouble for the Leones. The assassination of Hole, the loss of Newport to the Yardies, and the implosion and destruction of Fort Staunton that has largely destroyed much of the Forelli's businesses and assets, decimates the gang's influence in the city, and left them with only Marco's Bistro in Saint Mark's as their turf by GTA III.
The Sindaccos conduct much of their activity in the Red Light District and Hepburn Heights, with additional drug dealing activities in Chinatown, a Leone territory. With the help of an inside man, the Leones annex the Red Light District, the Sindacco-own Paulie's Revue Bar (which the Leones would rename to Sex Club 7) and Hepburn Heights. This forces the Sindaccos to move operations to Staunton Island, where they faced conflict with the Forellis, resulting in an attempted truce between the two Mafia families by Paulie Sindacco, the head of the Sindaccos. The Leones sabotage the Sindacco's mediation efforts, further souring relationships between the two factions and resulted in the killing of Paulie. This deprives the Sindaccos of any more chances to establish control in the city, and thus may explain their absence in GTA III.
The Colombian Cartel, obviously affected by the status of Fort Staunton, also has a different set of turf in the city. The Yardies would acquire Newport as their turf from the Forellis, with the aid of Toni. The Yakuza would acquire Torrington as their turf after Toni and Leon McAffrey kill off the Sindaccos in the area, and the Southside Hoods would acquire Wichita Gardens as their turf after helping Toni kill off all the Forellis occupying the area.
Motorcycles are initially permitted in Liberty City. By GTA III, a citywide ban on the vehicle is imposed, explaining the absence of motorcycles in GTA III. The Maibatsu Corporation of America, known in GTA III for marketing the allegedly oversized Monstrosity SUV and is a staunch supporter for increased car use in Liberty City, is seen as a notable advocate and contributor to the ban, funding an organization dubbed "American Road Safety for Everyone" (ARSE) that has lobbied for the ban after "the successful banning of bicycles," and presenting a petition for the ban.
Police cars in Liberty City Stories are depicted assuming a marking and paint scheme that resembles those of the NYPD during the 1990s, although the game's version used a black-and-white color scheme, instead of blue and white. This design was originally planned by the game developer to be used for GTA III (which was, in fact, using a blue-and-white NYPD paint scheme), but was redesigned into a common panda-like black-and-white color scheme around the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks on New York City.