Arcadia is the living, breathing heart of Rapture. Its lush forests and abundant plant life served to generate life-sustaining oxygen the city needed. It was a tranquil haven for those seeking a respite from the daily rigors of city life to relax in solitude among the many trees and grassy hills. Vacationers seeking something more relaxing than the flashing lights of Fort Frolic could find peace and serenity in the lovely Waterfall Grotto, Tea Garden, and other havens beneath the canopy of trees. Arcadia was very popular on Valentine's Day among couples, being an amorous environment.
Arcadia was created by botanical scientists on Ryan's payroll, most notably Julie Langford. Langford helped create Arcadia and its agricultural research facility, and later used ADAM to grow plants and trees. For a time, Arcadia was a free park for the citizens of Rapture, but Andrew Ryan closed Arcadia to all but paying customers, as he believed the service it provided warranted payment.
During the Civil War, a cult known as the Saturnine appeared in Arcadia. The cult members worshiped nature and indulged in splicing and drinking ADAM as part of their "rituals." Ryan vowed to put a stop to the Saturnine, whom he saw as an organized religion, as their activities endangered citizens and disrupted the work of Arcadia's scientists. The park experienced a number of lock downs as the violence in the city became worse, and was eventually closed to the public altogether. However Langford continued to return to her lab in the park to continue work on the Lazarus Vector.
The Tea Garden was one of the calmest places in Rapture. Nothing got the betties in the mood better than a night-time stroll in the Arcadia Tea Garden. Gently rolling hills, admirable waterfalls, a calm stream, dim light, and a perfect atmosphere were all part of the Garden's allure. After the fall of Rapture, the Tea Garden's customers were kept away by the growing civil strife.
The Tree Farm was a place where citizens could see trees and farm plants growing under the ocean. Situated next to the entrance gates to Arcadia, it was nigh impossible to miss. By the end of the Civil War, the area was in disuse and became overgrown, making it nearly inaccessible with a growth of vines keeping the doors shut.
Arcadia Glens was the main hub of Arcadia. From the Glens, visitors could reach the Waterfall Grotto, the Rolling Hills, the Tea Garden and the Tree Farm. It consists of a long concourse running through Arcadia, connecting with lower paths where water was circulated through the various areas.
The Waterfall Grotto is one of the more impressive areas in Arcadia. Like the rest of Arcadia, it has fallen into disorder. Its former glory is barely visible beneath the plant growth, rubble, flood-water, and shadows. The Rosa Gallica is one of the rare plants that bloomed there.
The Rolling Hills was another place citizens of Rapture could relax and enjoy the serenity of the verdant park. As the name suggests, the Rolling Hills' features a smooth hilly landscape. With its abundance of trees and foliage, it is one of the best places to have a walk in the "woods" of Rapture.
The entrance to Arcadia's metro station is adorned by two decorated fountains on both sides of a small chamber. Like many Bathysphere stations, the walls are decorated with the symbols of The Great Chain, but the station is also home to a large abundance of plants and features vines growing on its walls.
Thanks to the closure of Arcadia to the public during the war, Arcadia's Rapture Metro station is in nearly perfect condition. A jukebox provided entertainment while citizens waited for the next available Bathysphere. A present on a bench by the entrance never made it to who it was intended for.
The Research Center, supervised by Julie Langford, was an important place for botanical research in Rapture. Despite lockdown of the bathyspheres and growing dangers in Rapture, Langford continued to conduct her research here under contract with Ryan Industries. She had high security systems installed to keep Splicers out, and to ward off the members of the Saturnine cult. The Central Misting Control for all areas of the district, including the Farmer's Market, was situated in Langford's Office, which overlooks the Rolling Hills.
There is a crawlspace door above and to the right of the U-Invent.
To access this crawlspace (contains corpse, Shotgun, FAK), make a running jump onto the first crate then onto the stacked crates beside it, then onto the ledge above. From there, jump onto the inclined timber and walk across it to the other side, then step onto the level timber next to it and cross back over to the crawlspace.
There is also a storage crate packed with components, which varies with Scrounging.
Go down the steps into the water and make a u-turn.
Use the corpse to knock down the electric wire: components in crate.
Walk along the water and go right, still in the water, at the stairs.
When you see the water ruffle, a Houdini is about to appear:
Set up a Target Dummy if you have one.
Get a couple of pics of Houdini while he attacks the dummy.
It is a good idea to set up Proximity Mines around the entrances before starting the battle as Atlas will send 6 down the pneumo tube, but make sure not to put any in the Big Daddy's path. On harder difficulty settings using cyclone traps is also a good idea. Put cyclone traps in front of the two locked doors; one near the Vita-Chamber and the other next to the Turret in the other room to take out the first attackers. There are also numerous gas tanks and oil barrels around the labs that can be placed in strategic positions to the player's advantage. Placing a Proximity Mine in the corner between the Vita-Chamber and the door in the raised room by the Bot Shutdown Panel will take out the first Houdini Splicer as soon as it appears.
Among other locations in Rapture, posters can be found, advertising Arcadia in certain locations through out Minerva's Den. Such as "The BEAUTY of ARCADIA" poster lying on the floor in the Executive Wing.
The level name "Arcadia" was inspired by the Latin phrase "Et in Arcadia ego", which translates to "Even in Arcadia I exist" spoken by Death personified. The Utopian vision, Arcadia, is associated with bountiful natural splendor and harmony, so the phrase is a reminder that even in paradise things die, which ironically could be a reference to Rapture itself. Early in development for the level Andrew Ryan was intended to say this phrase just before releasing the poison into the level. The line was later cut, but the name of the level remained.
When the level Arcadia was made, the artists developing it utilized code from a previously removed feature of the game. This feature was originally intended to change lighting, fog, etc. in relation to the pressure of the area the player was in. The artists used the remaining code for the events such as the dying and revival of the trees.
The "Arcadia - Rapture's Vacationland" poster is a repurposed image from a fruit crate label of Yosemite Brand oranges. The Nature's Beauty Arcadia poster uses an altered royalty-free "Vacationland" clip art and the Arcadia A Place To Get Away poster uses an altered royalty-free "Come To The Mountains" clip art.
A grave stone in the small cemetery at the start of the level has the names "Faith", John Maynard Keys and Adam Smith on it. Both Smith and Keys are well know for their ground breaking economic theories. Faith would seem to be a reference that religious faith in Rapture was "dead".
↑Based on the following exchange on Market Street in Burial at Sea - Episode 1: Elizabeth: "What happened to these children? What are they?" Booker: "Where've you been, a cabin in Arcadia? Little Sisters. ADAM factories." Elizabeth: "It's grotesque."