Raccoon city was an apparently quiet suburban town situated in mid-western U.S.A. However, most of its residents had no clue that the town really served as a front for the Umbrella Corporation, which indirectly employed most of the town through subsidiary companies. Indeed, one of Umbrella's primary North American research labs (responsible for the creation of the G-Virus) was situated beneath the city, concealed and accessed by a turntable connected to a waste-treatment plant, thought the lab was also accessible from the numerous secret passages connecting the sewers with the Police-Station (which would later serve as HUNK's main escape route). However, the city's security is later compromised by the T-Virus outbreak in 1998, which turns most of the city's population into zombies (or worse). In order to eradicate the infestation, (and conceal its own involvement with Umbrella), the American Government's Operation XX destroyed Raccoon city through the utilization of a tactical nuclear strike, though the Outbreak series of games seems to suggest that Umbrella continued testing in the region after the destruction of the city.
The city sat at the foot of the Arklay mountains to the north, on a confluence between three rivers: the Marble; Circular and Aimes.
The Marble river is the largest, and from which the city drew most of its drinking water. The Circular river ran through the city proper, dividing it into west and east. A dam was also built along one of the nearby rivers.
There are several noteworthy districts;
- Downtown - generally defined as north of Ennerdale Street. Consisted of mixed residential/commercial buildings. Points of interest included Central Station, Raccoon City Hall, St. Michael's Clock Tower, Raccoon Zoo and Raccoon General Hospital.
- Uptown - generally defined as south of Ennerdale street. Consisted of largely commercial buildings. Landmarks included the Raccoon City Police Department (RPD), Raccoon High and Folsolm Street, the centre of entertainment for the city.
- Cedar District - running alongside the Circular River and to the east, largely industrial. Notable landmarks included Raccoon University and the Waste Disposal Plant.
- Suburbs - lay to the north and east of the city proper, surrounded by dense forest.
The city was roughly based on a grid system, with the main thoroughfares including:
- Ennerdale Street - a main road going from east to west, separating the CBD into "uptown" and "downtown". The Raccoon Police Department's main precinct is on this road.
- Central Street - location of Central Station.
- Raccoon Street - location of St. Michael's Clock Tower.
- Mission Street - location of Raccoon Hospital.
The city had an extensively developed tram and subway system, designed by the Kite Brothers in 1969. The tram system serves largely uptown and the Cider district, with Raccoon Station acting as the central hub. The subway system was known to have six stops, although before the outbreak was at risk of closing due to decreasing passenger numbers.
Raccoon City was connected by train to its nearest neighbor Stoneville, a small town to the east.
The GDP of Raccoon City remains unknown, but its economy was largely dominated by the Umbrella Corporation and it can be assumed most of the population were fairly affluent. The city's police force was also well-funded, possessing its own special task force.
Approximately 40% of the city's inhabitants were believed to be directly employed with the company working in its many legal businesses (pharmaceuticals, computing) however only a select few knew of its illegal activities in bio-engineering.
The corporation generously financed most of the city's infrastructure, including the tram and subway system under the "Bright 21st Century Project" in a bid to improve public relations.
Raccoon City was believed to be run under an elected municipal government.
Mayor Michael Warren, elected in 1987, served for eleven years.Warren was the engineer responsible for the establishment of the cable car transportation system and also made contributions to the city's electrical system. In his campaign to modernize the city, he made a deal with the Umbrella Corporation, which provided funding for several of Warren's projects, including public utilities, welfare work, and law enforcement.
Unfortunately, dependence on Umbrella's funding meant the city council could be easily swayed to the company's demands. By early 1994, the city was effectively under corporate control.
Originally a small hamlet in the Arklay Mountains, Raccoon City became heavily industrialized during the twentieth century, mostly from investment from the Umbrella Corporation, a local pharmaceutical company that grew to become a multinational conglomerate.
From 1987 onwards under the guidance of Michael Warren the city grew rapidly, transforming from a small mountainous community to an industrialized city. However, the city's expansion and modernization was accompanied by a spiraling crime rate. The Raccoon City Police Department (RPD) established the Special Tactics And Rescue Service (S.T.A.R.S.) in 1996 as a countermeasure to the wave of crime.
The Arklay Mountains incident
Matters were not helped by the actions of Police Chief Brian Irons, who attempted to trap officers and civilians within the police station, scattered weapons and ammunition around the building and cut off communication to the outside. The police station itself was besieged on September 26. The officers then made a last attempt to destroy the zombies in the streets near the Johnson National Bank on September 27, but failed when their road block were overrun by hordes of zombies. The survivors within the RPD's main precinct on Ennerdale Street held off the zombies for days until only three living officers remained: chief Brian Irons; Marvin Branagh, and another, unnamed, police officer. Umbrella also sent in several Umbrella Biohazard Countermeasure Service (UBCS) platoons for search-and-rescue missions on the 26th and the 27th, which ended disastrously for the survivors. The supervisors of these squads were also secretly tasked with gathering field data about Umbrella's bio-weapons as well as destroying any incriminating evidence. Two US Special Forces units deployed into Raccoon City to secure the G-virus and other key Umbrella chemicals were quickly anihilated by a pack of rogue Hunter βs and a team of T-103s, respectively. By September 28, only a handful of UBCS mercenaries were left alive, who would help Jill Valentine to escape.
By September 29, nearly everyone in the city had either been killed by the monsters and bio-weapons released from Umbrella's laboratories, or had succumbed to the t-Virus and become zombies. The military barricades surrounding the city had begun to fail in some places, allowing unwary visitors such as Leon Kennedy and Claire Redfield to enter the city, and allowing some of the city's few survivors to escape.
The area that used to be Raccoon City was gated off from the rest of the world, and Umbrella had built a classified research and testing facility. All that is known about this facility is that it was used for experiments and testing and it keeps a close watch for any trespassers or biohazard threats. But as of 2003, when Umbrella collapsed, the US Government took over the facility. Now that the complex is run by the US military, it focuses on the close watch duties in the gated and surrounding areas that the Umbrella Corporation once did.
Despite the tragedy of Raccoon City, its destruction served as a warning to the world of the dangers of viral experimentation, and as a result new guidelines and safety precautions were put into place to prevent another such disaster from occurring. Global distrust in pharmaceutical companies grew due to the Umbrella Corporations illicit practices becoming public knowledge. Companies such as WilPharma and Tricell came under intense scrutiny and were picketed by human rights organizations, whilst the Bioterrorism Security Assessment Alliance was formed by former members of Raccoon's S.T.A.R.S unit to combat the rise in bio-terrorism that followed Umbrella's downfall. Despite the measures, the city of Harvardville nearly became a second Raccoon City following a t-Virus outbreak at the city's airport and at a WilPharma facility built within the city limits. However, the crisis was averted and the outbreak was quickly contained.
In Resident Evil 3: Nemesis, a single missile is seen detonating near Raccoon City Hall. The blast wipes the city clean with an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) ahead of it.
Resident Evil Outbreak File 2 shows sixteen air-to-land missiles hitting the city via a computer screen at Heaven's Gate.
Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles shows the Nuclear missile hitting the city, but in other scenes it shows three conventional weapons
Raccoon City in other media
In the Resident Evil film series, Raccoon City was a huge metropolis built by the Umbrella Corporation and was used for conducting scientific research and experimentation. The Raccoon City in the films was much larger than in the games, with a population approaching 1 million people and a sprawling city center.
In 2002, the t-Virus escaped into the ventilation systems. Then, the giant supercomputer known as The Red Queen shut down The Hive, gassed some of its employees with Halon, dropped the occupied elevators at high speed, and drowned the others. Umbrella later sent in a special elite team of commandos in order to retrieve information about what had happened.
The team entered The Hive through a secret passage located within a mansion. It is later revealed, that the viral outbreak was intentionally done in order to smuggle out the t-Virus and sell it on the black market. Just hours later, only two survivors emerged from The Hive, Matt Addison and Alice. Both were seized by Umbrella's scientists and taken to the Raccoon City Hospital for quarantine and experimentation.
Resident Evil: Apocalypse
Knowing that containing the outbreak would be nearly impossible, an emergency plan to evacuate key Umbrella personnel from the city was activated. Important researchers and administrators were collected by two-man teams and removed from the city. After the completion of this operation, the city was sealed. Raccoon City was considered a loss, and to keep the infection from spreading past the city limits, gates at the entry and egress points of the city were closed. Traffic into and out of the city was halted.
A screening center was established at one such point, Raven's Gate Bridge, the city's primary traffic artery. Manned by medics and heavily armed corporate soldiers, this checkpoint was a minor effort to save some civilians from the rapidly expanding disaster. Uninfected civilians were permitted to pass, and control of the increasingly panicked population was maintained by Raccoon City Police units and Umbrella soldiers. However, once an infected civilian did reach the blockade (and was subsequently killed), orders were given to completely seal the city. The gates were closed and locked down, stranding the helpless civilians still within the city limits.
Mercenary soldiers working for Umbrella attempted, and failed, to turn the tide of the zombie onslaught. Losses were staggering and not effective. With nearly all of the units dead, Umbrella's last-line plan was put into motion.
Shortly before dawn on September 30, 2002, a cruise missile equipped with a thermonuclear warhead was launched into the heart of downtown Raccoon City. Umbrella Corporation public relations spin doctors were able to feed a convincing story to the media, who then reported that the city's destruction was due to a terrible accident at the Raccoon City Nuclear Power Facility nearby. Attempts by some of the survivors to spread the truth about what had really happened, met with failure.