The city was primarily designed by the architectural firm Wales & Wales, and the art-deco metropolis was meant to be the ideal utopia; where art, industry, and science would thrive undisturbed by interventions from governments and other social agencies. Rapture was designed to be entirely self-supporting, with all of its electricity, food production, water purification and defense systems powered by undersea volcanic vents. People from around the world emigrated to the hidden city during the time period of 1946 to 1952, sparking conspiracy theories on the surface about mass disappearances, termed "The Vanishing." Rapture's population numbered several thousand at its peak during the early 1950's, composed of those people Ryan viewed as the "best examples" of mankind.
Unfortunately, the city did not plan for accommodation of the large number of workers who had labored to construct it. While the artistic and scientific elite from around the world emigrated to fill the metropolis, these workers were left in leaking, crowded, "temporary" housing in Pauper's Drop. This stark contrast between the poor and the intellectual upper crust was mostly ignored by Ryan and his City Council. However, Ryan did listen to advice that the citizens were becoming anxious from the isolation of the city and the lack of sun. Thus he hired Sofia Lamb, a renowned psychiatrist on the surface, and invited her down to Rapture to help individuals cope with life under the ocean. Lamb's utilitarian beliefs largely clashed with the free market ideal of Rapture, and she devoted much of her efforts to the poorer citizens. In this way she became a significant political rival of Ryan.
During this same time period, between 1949 and 1951, Dr. Brigid Tenenbaum happened to be passing through the docks in Neptune's Bounty, and noticed that an individual who had his hands paralyzed in the war was playing catch. After inquiring as to the reason behind the revival of his hands, the man told her that he was bitten by a sea slug. Tenenbaum asked the man for the sea slug, knowing that she had discovered something amazing, and began to search for a benefactor who would fund her research.
Tenenbaum was scoffed at by all of the other scientists in Rapture, until she approached Frank Fontaine, a business man with a distinguished name in Neptune's Bounty. He agreed to fund Tenenbaum's research and development as long as he was able to profit from the findings in the end. He funded her research using the profits he had acquired from his smuggling ring (objects from the surface are illegal in Rapture), and her research began taking off. She quickly found that a substance the sea slugs secreted behaved like stem cells, and that by using it she could manipulate DNA entirely. She was able to "bend the double-helix", cure diseases, and give organisms amazing powers. The substance was thought to be a "rebirth" for humanity, and it was dubbed "ADAM".
Shortly after the discovery of ADAM the scientists made another breakthrough: If the slug was implanted into a host, it would produce twenty to thirty times the original amount of ADAM. Presumably they tried to insert the slug into the stomachs of various other test subjects, but only one subject seemed to work well with the slug: young girls. After this discovery, they started to implant the slugs into little girls. However, they needed a ready supply of hosts if they were going to mass produce ADAM as Fontaine wanted. Taking inspiration from Sofia Lamb's earlier charity work, Fontaine set up the "Little Sisters Orphanage," advertising it as a place where financially pressed families could send their little girls for care and schooling. The transformed little girls eventually came to be known by the orphanage name.
1952-1959: Rapture's Golden Ages and Beginning of the End
The Elite of Rapture Society: Brigid Tenenbaum, Sander Cohen, Gil Alexander, Andrew Ryan, Sofia Lamb, and Yi Suchong
When Ryan initially noticed Lamb's political influence he agreed to a series of publicized debates with her, hoping to ruin her popularity by exposing the weaknesses in her philosophy. This was a miscalculation on his part, and it only increased the number of her supporters. At last Ryan began to fear her influence, and he commissioned Augustus Sinclair's company "Sinclair Solutions" to monitor her and her followers, hoping to find an excuse to take her into custody. Stanley Poole of the Rapture Tribune acted as an undercover spy for Sinclair, becoming one of the "Rapture Family," Lamb's followers. Eventually Lamb was taken by Ryan's men and locked away at Persephone, a prison complex owned by Sinclair.
Once Fontaine Futuristics was able to produce ADAM in a massive scale, the marketing of gene tonics and plasmids (developed by Dr. Yi Suchong) went mainstream, selling to any individual that could afford them. These tonics and plasmids allowed individuals to do superhuman things, such as create fire at their fingertips (Incinerate!), release a swarm of bees from their arms (Insect Swarm), or increase muscle tissue and movement speed (SportBoost). Originally, Andrew Ryan enjoyed the success of Frank Fontaine, citing him as a prime example of the type of individual that should be inhabiting Rapture.
A few years passed, and Andrew Ryan began suspecting Fontaine of various crimes, ranging from smuggling to murder. A full-scale genetic arms race broke out between Ryan and Fontaine, as Fontaine's monopoly on ADAM threatened the current social structure. Andrew Ryan then attempted to arrest Fontaine; but Fontaine decided that he himself wanted to go down "guns blazing" and faked his death during the shootout in late 1958. After this, Andrew Ryan assumed control of Fontaine Futuristics, and began to produce plasmids and tonics within his own company, Ryan Industries. Tightening his grip upon the city, Ryan's began instituting harsher punishments against problem citizens, arresting many of Dr. Lamb's followers.
Rapture was filled with civil unrest in the following months as Fontaine stepped into his Atlas persona, rallying the the people who had flocked to his poor houses in subtle guerrilla warfare against Ryan's security forces. To combat this threat Ryan adjusted the Little Sister program to send the little girls out into the streets to gather ADAM from corpses. Ryan also commissioned Dr. Suchong to develop protectors for the girls, taking many of Lamb's imprisoned followers from Persephone and modifying them into prototype Big Daddies. To supply even more ADAM for the growing need Ryan's men began kidnapping little girls to turn into Little Sisters. After Suchong's accidental death by a prototype Big Daddy, the Protector Project was placed under the control of Gilbert Alexander, another brilliant scientist from Fontaine Futuristics. He finally completed Suchong's work by bonding Eleanor Lamb, daughter of Sofia Lamb, who was abducted and turned into a Little Sister, to Subject Delta. They became the first ADAM gathering couple working in Rapture.
The minor skirmishes reached a climax on the New Year's Eve of 1958, when the disenfranchised citizens who supported Atlas attacked various key locations in the city, including the upper-class Kashmir Restaurant. This event was the first large-scale battle of Rapture's Civil War.
Prior to the New Years riots Sofia Lamb had escaped from Persephone and was searching for her daughter. On New Year's Eve she and a few loyal splicers finally captured Eleanor from her protector. Delta was incapacitated by the Hypnotize plasmid, with which Sofia Lamb forced him to kill himself in front of a shocked Eleanor. Lamb then retreated back to Persephone with her daughter, avoiding the conflict of the war.
- Re: Beginning by madmatg