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|"As you can see, Cranefish Town has gone through incredible growth--"|
|— Lao Beifong describing the rapid growth of Cranefish Town to Team Avatar.|
The Earthen Fire Refinery, the world's first joint business venture between nations, was the impetus for the town's development. Illegal mining linked to the refinery eventually led to the awakening of General Old Iron, who was eventually defeated by members of Team Avatar.
Following the destruction wrought by the powerful spirit, the town was rebuilt and later named Cranefish Town. As a rapidly expanding society, its inequality and underlying societal tensions eventually led to strife between benders and nonbenders, culminating in Liling's bender supremacist movement. This insurrection was eventually put down by Avatar Aang and other members of Team Avatar.
In the aftermath of the Harmony Restoration Movement, the city merged with Yu Dao and other former Fire Nation colonies to form the United Republic of Nations, with Cranefish Town, now known as Republic City, as its capital.
The area which Cranefish would later occupy was first settled by humans during the era of Raava. The local guardian spirit, Lady Tienhai, decided to allow the small tribe to stay, and protect it from harm including other spirits. In the course of several thousand years, the small village expanded into a powerful city-state with its own monarchy. By the time of Avatar Yangchen, the settlement had become part of the Earth Kingdom and developed into the grandest city of the world.
All changed, however, when Lady Tienhai fell in love with the city's king. To stay with him, she assumed a mortal form, and eventually died. This enraged General Old Iron, a powerful spirit who had long despised humanity. Old Iron decided to destroy the settlement to "avenge" Tienhai, but was stopped by Avatar Yangchen. She struck a deal with the vengeful spirit, and the city was consequently abandoned. Centuries passed, and nature reclaimed the entire region, though a few small villages continued to persist.
The Fire Nation conquered the region during the Hundred Year War, and several Fire Nation colonies such as Yu Dao were established in the vicinity. Following the war's end in 100 AG, Team Avatar, led by Avatar Aang and Fire Lord Zuko, came to an agreement with Earth King Kuei on the establishment of the Harmony Restoration Movement, which would return the Fire Nation colonies to the jurisdiction of the Earth Kingdom. One of the procedures of this action was the relocation of Fire Nation citizens from the foreign settlements they had created over the past century. This order of removal had negative demographic consequences not considered by any of the parties to the agreement. A year into the operation of the movement, Zuko withdrew his support after being accused of being a traitor by his own people, precipitating a confrontation with his friend, Avatar Aang.
After a narrow avoidance of war, Aang and Zuko eventually resolved this impasse by not removing the Fire Nation colonies, but regulating the balance of power by granting them autonomy. As a result of the mixture of different cultures and the war's end, business quickly began to boom in the old colonies. The world's first joint business venture between Fire Nation and Earth Kingdom citizens, the Earthen Fire Refinery, was set up to mine the large crystal depository under the area where Tienhai's city was originally located. The refinery attracted workers and merchants. A small village, originally consisting of a single street and three shops, was set up to support the Earthen Fire Refinery by 102 AG.
Awakening of General Old Iron
| What? That can't be it! Where's the rest of it?
This section needs to be expanded in order to include more relevant information.
While the Earthen Fire Refinery's operation continued, it was interrupted by nearby earthquakes that devastated the production line. Team Avatar, originally arriving to celebrate Yangchen's Festival along with the Air Acolytes, investigated its origins. They soon discovered Loban's illegal iron mining, which lay underneath the town and was destabilizing the earth.
By conversing with Avatar Yangchen, his past life, Aang was able to learn that the iron stemmed from General Old Iron, who had agreed to lay down his arms so long as Yangchen's Festival continued to be celebrated. The illegal mining caused General Old Iron to awaken, and with the Air Nomad Genocide having stopped the festival from being celebrated, he proceeded to unleash his wrath on the town. He was eventually stopped by Aang and Toph Beifong alongside her metalbending students, while Sokka and Katara helped evacuate Satoru and the other workers.
The town was rebuilt in the aftermath of the General's destruction, starting with the refinery as the primary economic driver. The town underwent rapid expansion as new factories and building were constructed. To reconnect the denizens with the spirit of the land they inhabited, and to respect the promise Yangchen had made, Avatar Aang instituted the Spirits' Friendship Festival.
The rebuilt town was named for the first time, in honor of the cranefish that inhabited the area due to the area's links to the Lady Tienhai. As result of its rapid expansion, Cranefish Town came to be plagued by unemployment and poverty, especially after new technologies were introduced that resulted in many benders being laid off to reduce costs, with their tasks being entirely automated. Many benders took offense to this and refused to work for factories owned by nonbenders in protest.
Liling's bender supremacist movement
Resentful and jobless benders consequently formed criminal gangs which robbed nonbenders, fomented unrest, and fought turf wars with each other. When Team Avatar arrived in Cranefish Town, they witnessed a dispute between a firebender and an earthbender gang that led to the destruction of nonbenders' homes.
Lao Beifong proposed banning public bending to stop the conflicts between benders and nonbenders. However, this only made the Business Council's bender members to further distrust the nonbender councilman, accusing him of having an anti-bender agenda. Avatar Aang rejected Lao's suggestion and proposed creating a police force, seconded by Liling, who revealed she had recruited a security team of benders from Cranefish Town's population. When Liling called for a vote on Aang's proposal, the entire council voted in favor.
The city's nonbender owned factories were soon plagued by a series of attacks, which Toph Beifong discovered were carried out by Liling's daughters, Ru and Yaling. Toph gained Yaling's trust so that Team Avatar could infiltrate Liling's underground meeting for bender supremacists, where the Avatar's allies managed to overpower all of Liling's followers and imprison her in a cage inside the Earthen Fire Refinery.
Cranefish Town's Business Council building was set on fire following Liling's imprisonment. While Team Avatar went to douse the fire and rescue those trapped inside, Liling's followers managed to free her from the Earthen Fire Refinery. In order to prepare for an upcoming confrontation with the bender supremacists, Suki trained the factory's nonbender guards in chi blocking to prepare for battle.
Team Avatar and the factory's guards confronted Liling for the final time outside the Earthen Fire Refinery. When Aang entered the Avatar State, he prepared to take Liling's bending away, but was stopped by Katara, and he instead resolved to fight the poison she had spread around the city.
Lao Beifong thanked Suki for her help in detaining most of the bender supremacists, and Aang informed him that Suki had agreed to stay and bring the Kyoshi Warriors to train Cranefish Town's nonbender police, with Aang adding that trustworthy benders would be added to the police force in time. When Satoru asked if benders and nonbenders could truly work together after everything that had transpired, Aang and Suki enthusiastically responded that they could.
Aang told Katara and the rest of Team Avatar that he felt a special connection to Cranefish Town, thinking that it could become something special if it could overcome its problems. Katara and Aang agreed that he should stay in Cranefish Town, and that the city needed the both of them.
A renamed Cranefish Town would eventually become the core of Republic City, the capital city of the United Republic of Nations, and among the largest and most technologically advanced cities in the world. The town's infrastructure was considerably improved and a large amount of new land was developed. Avatar Aang also constructed the sole airbender-inhabited air temple in the world on Air Temple Island in Yue Bay.
With no officially established government, the running of the city was overseen by the Cranefish Town Business Council, comprised of a group of local factory owners, thus making it a corporatocracy. As the city developed into the United Republic of Nations, a new council was instituted to represent the diverse ethnocultural composition of the new country, including the denizens of the former Cranefish Town.
Cranefish Town was protected by a municipal police force which maintained order, particularly during the bender insurrection. These police were additionally instructed in the art of chi-blocking by Suki and the other Kyoshi Warriors. Nominal military protection was provided by the Earth Kingdom Military.
The culture of Cranefish Town was deeply rooted in its industry which lent the city a hardscrabble feel. The culture also reflected the diverse backgrounds of its residents and formed a melting-pot for the different nations.
The city was laid out around what would later become Yue Bay, and included docks near the bay as well as factories further inland, particularly the refinery. There was also a river into which some of the effluent from the refinery, as well as Loban's illegal mining, flowed into, resulting in severe contamination until remedied by Team Avatar.
Notable locations included the city's raison d'être, the Earthen Fire Refinery. The docks also represented an important part of town, allowing trade of the city's many products. The cabbage merchant also operated his restaurant within the town. There were also many factories in Cranefish Town, with numerous residences to house the workers.
- Sokka considered Cranefish Town to be "a terrible name".
- In "And the Winner Is...", a Cabbage Corp advertisement on the radio describes the company as "Republic City's trusted name in technology for over fifty years". This indicates that the evolution of Cranefish Town into Republic City occurred, to some extent, by 120 AG, a mere twenty years after the end of the Hundred Year War.
- The design of Cranefish Town on Team Avatar's first visit was intended to feel "like it had grown far too fast, without much concern for the people living in it".