By Benjamin Maxwell

BALTIMORE – April 22, 2040: Long-time readers of my columns might be in for a surprise, as this is my last ever from the wonderful city of Baltimore. But fear not, my loyal readers, for this is a happy occasion. Today, we celebrate the founding of the re-envisioned city of Aquataine, Baltimore’s new name as it goes under the dome.

The day began with the ceremonial retiring of the flag of the City of Baltimore, forever enshrined in the new seat of the Aquataine City Hall in the Central Dome. The festivities officially got underway as the new flag of Aquataine was hoisted high on the flagpole in the government courtyard.

The new flag, featuring the city’s shield and motto ‘in civitatem mari popularia’—A City of the Sea, a Government of the People—in a field of aqua. The flag is 30 by 42 feet, the same size as the original Star Spangled Banner flag that flew over Fort McHenry during the War of 1812.

The city’s first governor, Cal Donovan gave the inaugural speech, and introduced the dome architects, lead engineer, and the leads of the construction teams. The Sea-Notes Marching Band led the parade through Schaefer Plaza around the former Baltimore harbor area, followed by numerous floats showcasing the amazing technology that has been incorporated into this wonderful city.

Rhappahanock Engineering of Virginia had one of its underwater runabouts on display in the Transportation Dome, which will be the main transportation hub for travel between domed cities. The runabouts will be used for light-duty deliveries between the surface cities and nearby underwater cities. Rhappahanock also had scale models of its huge cargo and passenger subs with walk-through displays. These futuristic ships will be ready for public use within the year.

Also included in the celebrations were tours of the key environmental and support systems. Visitors were also treated to guided tours of the water treatment facility, the oxygen generation plant, and the electrical generation system with a model of the remote underwater current turbines. One of the most incredible systems is the electro-optic panels that line the dome. These panels can be made transparent, but can also generate the lighting that simulate a blue sky, sunrises and sunsets, and can even simulate stormy skies.

Further celebrations included live bands, including the best of the rock, techno, and classic scenes. World-renowned Hydrophonist Jessie Matthias performed with Hanover Axx, a Rock-Hydro band, for a two-hour free concert.

If today’s activities are any indication of how well people will adapt to living underwater, then the population of Aquataine will live a comfortable and entertaining lifestyle. Aquataine sets the high water mark for Boston and Philadelphia as their domes are completed within the next few months.

Ben Maxwell is a staff writer for the Boston Chronicle. His stories focus largely on environmental issues and health matters. You can follow him online at our web site.

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