Vice City in GTA III Era
- See: Vice City for information on the different versions of Vice City
Vice City, as depicted in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, is set in 1986, a reference to 1980s Miami, which was believed to have become a major trans-shipment point for cocaine from South America at the time. This is further reinforced with its theme of the drug business and crime, as well as the presence of new upper-class businesses and residents in the city, with some of them likely to be funded by the drug business. Vice City is specifically indicated to be located within the state of Florida.
Vice City consists of two major islands and six smaller islands; both main islands are separated by a large body of water similar to that of Biscayne Bay, which separates Miami Beach with mainland Miami in real-life. Each major island is divided into several districts. The population of Vice City is given at around 1.8 million (Information found on page 5 of the game's manual).
The city has four hospitals (two in each major island) and four police stations (two in each major island) distributed evenly in the city; these facilities serve as respawn points after the player dies or is arrested. The city also has one fire station and a military base. Unlike Liberty City and the state of San Andreas, however, Vice City has no known railway or rapid transit systems, and all islands are connected by road or pedestrian bridges. While the city contains local taxicabs like other GTA cities, Vice City is the only city in the series to offer functional taxicab services that sends the player directly to a single location at a fee, available in one mission (to a club) or when the player failed a mission as a result of being killed or arrested (to the last mission trigger).
The eastern island of Vice City, referred to as "Vice Beach" on the game's roadsigns, is depicted as the more affluent and tourist-oriented side of the city, which is mostly dominated by upper and middle-wealth businesses, as well as residential condominiums, apartments and construction sites. The eastern island is also known for a wide beach, dubbed "Washington Beach", on its east side, which makes up an estimated half of the island's landmass. The island also has a waterway on its west side, with neighboring Leaf Links forming several more of it. The eastern island is clearly based on Miami Beach, Florida.
Ocean Beach is an upper-class tourist district consisting of a few skyscrapers and many low rises, directly based on South Beach and located in the southeastern most of Vice City. The area is primarily occupied by seaside and beach side apartments, hotels and upper-class businesses. An Art Deco Historic District-like row of Art Deco and Modernist low rises are also present; the road stretched along the row mimics that of Ocean Drive, bearing much resemblance to their real life counterparts in architecture and layout, and includes a flora partition between the low rises and beach, similar to Lummus Park. The lighthouse located at the southeastern most point mimics the Cape Florida lighthouse, the oldest structure in Miami, located in Key Biscayne, and a popular beach side tourist destination.
Inland towards the west, Ocean Beach contains additional commercial and residential buildings, resembling southwestern Miami Beach, westward from Collins Avenue (in fact, the road in Vice City that separates the two sides of the Ocean Beach in the manner that Collins Avenue does to southern Ocean Beach, and would eventually run along several beach side apartment and condominiums in Vice Point, similar to northern Collins Avenue).
The district boasts a marina, Ocean Bay Marina, mimicking a large marina stretched along Alton Road in Ocean Beach and located at the west end of the district. A hospital is also situated on the northwest end of Ocean Beach, named Ocean View Hospital, it is likely named for its locations affront the city bay. Two additional high-rise buildings located beside the hospital bear signage that claims that the tenants are the "Research and Development Department" of the "Ocean View Medical Foundation", suggesting that the buildings are related to the hospital.
Several other features may be noted in Ocean Beach. A park mimicking South Pointe Park is located on the southern end of Ocean Beach, and includes a seaside building with similar architecture designs, and an additional helipad. An open-air mall, Washington Mall, depicted at the northern end of Ocean Beach, is possibly based on the Bal Harbour Shops mall at Bal Harbour.
Tommy Vercetti's initial accommodation in Vice City is in Ocean Beach, at the beachfront Ocean View Hotel. The Pole Position (strip) Club is also located near the south end of the district.
Washington Beach is a district between Ocean Beach from the south and Vice Point from the north, encompassing the northern end of the Art Deco Historic District-like beachfront district, its inland area, and the southern half of a smaller island to the west containing two construction sites and several additional apartments and housing.
Washington Beach also contains a police station located at the northern edge of the district, as well as Ken Rosenberg's office at the southwestern edge. Washington Beach is also connected to Starfish Island via a short bridge between the Washington Beach island; the roadway connecting the two districts stretches across the islands and ends at the edge of Little Havana. The district is likely to be named after Washington Avenue, a major road in Miami Beach.
Vice Point is a more middle class and residential area of Vice Beach, covering the remaining areas of the island at the north, and consisting of larger apartment buildings and hotels aligned along the shore as well as medium sized homes and smaller apartment complexes inland. This set-up resembles the rows of developments along Collins Avenue in Miami Beach, as well as the residential set-up of that city.
The North Point Mall, located in the north end of Vice Point, is a parody of Miami's Aventura Mall. Its location in the northeastern most point of the east island is similar to Aventura Mall's location in the extreme northeastern most point of the Miami Metro Area. The mall's layout, though much smaller, also resembles that of Aventura Mall.
The Malibu Club is situated on southern Vice Point. A police department is also located further north, as is another hospital.
Mainland Vice City
Vice City's western island, referred to as the "Mainland" on roadsigns in the game, is depicted as a less glamorous area of the city, although the business district of Downtown is in fact located on the north end of the island. The western island houses much of the city's industrial population, as well as seaport and airport facilities at the south. Two sizable districts housing immigrant populations are located in the middle, with one of these districts depicted in a dilapidated state. The western island contains a wide four-lane road at its east side that stretches from the south end, at the seaports, to the north end, at the southern tip of Downtown. The western island is based on mainland Miami.
Downtown mirrors downtown Miami, where the areas sees the highest concentration of skyscrapers, both residential and commercial. Like its real-life counterpart, Downtown is believed to be a more formal, financial district of Vice City, with a number of large office buildings, including the city's tallest building, possibly based on the Wachovia Financial Center and the Bank of America Tower.
The area also boasts the Hyman Memorial Stadium (which may be named after fictional gangster Hyman Roth, from the film The Godfather Part II), west of Downtown, serving as a staging area for events such as stock car races, demolition derbies and dirt bike stunt shows; it is not known, however, if the stadium is used for any other sporting activities, although Vice City does feature at least one sports team (the Vice City Mambas American football team, which featured former tight-end BJ Smith). In addition, Downtown serves as the location for the local heavy metal radio station V-Rock and an enclosed recording studio, where lead singer for rock band Love Fist, Jezz Torrent, was seen recording a song.
Other places of interest include the Electronics District, the Vice City News (VCN) headquarters, the Greasy Chopper bikers' bar, and a venue for a Love Fist concert, just south of the V-Rock radio station. An unnamed beach is also located west of Downtown, but it receives no visitors or attention, a stark contrast to Washington Beach in the Ocean Beach area. A police station, hospital and the city's only fire station is situated in the district.
Drawing from the real-life Little Havana in Miami, Vice City's Little Havana consists of a predominantly Spanish-speaking Cuban population. The area is controlled by the Cuban gang, led by Umberto Robina from his father's cafe, located in the southwest end of Little Havana. Due to Little Havana's proximity with Little Haiti, occasional fights and gun battles between Cuban and Haitian gangs erupt in areas bordering the two districts.
A Vice City police department is located at the southeastern tip of Little Havana, as well as a hospital at the east side of the district. The Cherry Popper Ice Cream Factory is also located within the vicinity.
Also inspired by a real-life district in Miami, Little Haiti is predominantly inhabited by Haitians and is home to the Haitian gang, led by Auntie Poulet, from her small wooden shack among other shacks at center of Little Haiti. The gang's solvent factory, located at the west side of Little Haiti, was destroyed in a Cuban ambush, aided by Tommy Vercetti. Little Haiti is noted to be more run-down than Little Havana, with the presence of poorly maintained buildings, and low wealth businesses and smaller homes.
A large printing press, which would be purchased by Tommy Vercetti later in the storyline for a money counterfeiting business, is located at the border between Little Haiti and Little Havana. Phil Cassidy's home and weapons armory is located on the northwest end of Little Haiti. Kaufman Cabs, a local taxi cab company, is also based in Little Haiti, located a block north of Poulet's shack.
Airport and seaport
Vice City's airport is known as the Escobar International Airport (EIA), a possible pun on Pablo Escobar, an infamous Colombian drug lord. Although mildly similar in location as Miami's international airport, neighboring Little Havana, the airport structures and layout of the compound do not appear to be based on any airports seen in Miami. Also, all airports in Miami are located inland, but the EIA is located on a peninsula.
The EIA consists of two terminals, one at the north which is basically a standard blocky terminal with the addition of below ground entrances, while the other in the south is more distinctive, with its weaved roof and roof-high windows facing the airport's southern airside. Both structures are separated by lawns and a car park, and it is unknown if the terminals are connected in any other way aside roads. Further north in the airport peninsula is the Fort Baxter Air Base, a military installation that houses military equipment and personnel.
Southeast of the EIA compound is Vice Port, the city's seaport, and a possible play of the Dante B. Fascell Port of Miami-Dade (Port of Miami), located on the southern edge of the bay, similar to the Port of Miami's in Biscayne Bay. However, Vice Port is located in the mainland, while the Port of Miami is located on an island, covering much of the southern entrance of Biscayne Bay. In addition, Vice Port does not cater for cruise ships, unlike Miami Port which has operated a cruise ship terminal since 1968, focusing instead on solely cargo shipping.
Starfish Island is the third largest island in Vice City and is based on Miami's exclusive Star Island; or perhaps other island communities such as Belle Isle or other Venetian Islands along the Venetian Causeway, and adjoining the MacAuthur Causeway.
Starfish Island is a community of upper-wealth residents, most of whom live in large houses and mansions, some with their own jetty. The area is also supplied with their own security guards, who patrol the island and open fire upon any troublemakers; this gives the residents of the area a feeling of safety, and not at least because of the island's proximity to the gang-riddled townships of Little Havana and Little Haiti.
The largest residence on Starfish Island is the Diaz Mansion, previously owned by drug baron Ricardo Diaz and acquired by the player part-way through the game (and renamed Vercetti Estate), which comes complete with a rooftop helipad. The main interior of the mansion strongly resembles the home of fictional drug lord Tony Montana in the 1983 film Scarface, only missing the "The World Is Yours" globe and the lavish master bedroom.
Prawn Island is a small northern island linking Downtown Vice City in the west and Vice Point in the east. Like Starfish Island, Prawn Island consists of several mansions, in addition to several adjoining businesses and a film studio. Most of these premises and homes, however, have long been abandoned, and the mansions are now occupied by the Streetwannabes street gang.
Interglobal Studios, the sole film studio in the island and in Vice City, presently serves as a pornography film studio for pornography film director Steve Scott and was bought off by Tommy Vercetti later in the storyline. The name "Prawn" may be a play on "pron" or "pr0n", informal terms for pornography that are used frequently on the Internet. Whether or not the studio was previously used for filming of more mainstream movies remains unknown, although several movie sets that seem relatively unrelated to pornography were seen in the studio, including a movie set for a moon landing.
Leaf Links is a collection of three islands located just west of Vice Point encompassing the Leaf Links Country Club, each island connected to another island with bridges. A road cuts through the middle of the island cluster, where the clubhouse-cum-entrance is located, requiring a pedestrian bridge to connect both half of the clusters. Much of the eastern island's narrow waterways are formed from the partitions between Leaf Links and Vice Point.
The Leaf Links country club consists primarily of golf courses, as well as tennis courts and the clubhouse. Indeed, golf carts are constantly seen in and around the club as a form of transportation, including on the open road surrounded by the club compound.
The logic of a country club in Vice City may be attributed by the presence of wealthy residents and ideally sunny weather in the city. Leaf Links may also be inspired by the number of country clubs scattered along the eastern coast of Miami, including the Bayshore Country Club and La Gorce Golf Course in Miami Beach, Normandy Shores Golf Course, Indian Creek and Haulover Park.
The name "Leaf Links" is inspired by "Leith Links", a park in Leith near Rockstar North's HQ in Edinburgh, Scotland. Leith Links is where the earliest record of golf is found in the world, and Leith bolsters its claim to be "the home of golf" because the first official rules were formulated there.