When it became clear that the rest of the world was lost to the Hamidon, Cole decided to create his own kingdom. Knowing that the Devouring Earth were vulnerable to ultra-sonic frequencies, he started purging the area overlooking Mother Mayhem's hospital of all infestation, and then set up sonic barriers. When it was proven that the barriers worked, his workers began a fast construction of First Ward, along with a power center at a remote location.
As soon as the first buildings were being put up, Cole ordered the mass evacuation of the remaining cities and refugee camps. He would need as many people as possible to build up not only First Ward but also construct his ultimate vision of Praetoria.
The evacuations were not easy, and it became obvious some "pruning" would be needed. The rules of Social Darwinism applied. Further complicating matters were efforts from the Syndicate to substitute their people with refugees. Emperor Cole chose to remain ignorant of this because he believed that the greater good would be served with the Syndicate instead of fighting both them and the Hamidon.
With First Ward mostly completed, Cole then focused his efforts on Praetoria, starting with Imperial City.
During the expansion of the area that would eventually become Neutropolis, it was discovered that there was a flaw in the sonic shielding in that it only kept out the Devouring Earth and Hamidon minions from the surface and the air. It did not stop those that could burrow under the earth.
Praetor Keys, the creator of the sonic barrier, was well aware for the limitation and believed he had corrected it with Imperial City. The same, however, cannot be said about First Ward.
When the Hamidon struck, it did so through the middle of First Ward itself, reaching out with its monstrous tentacles to swat away the heroes and the Clockwork drones. Through the maw created by it, the Seeds and minions came forth like a biblical plague.
Emperor Cole believed that the only option available was the nuclear one, but Praetor Keys said there was an alternative. Keys turned the ultrasonic field in on the city, down from its peak over the Westerman Tower, killing everything in the immediate area. Only those living in the outlying areas survived the wave.
According to those living in Praetoria, a scant handful of survivors were found and transported to Neutropolis. In reality, several hundred survivors still remain in the outlying areas of First Ward, risking their lives against Cole's forces and other enemies, including one of two surviving Hamidon Seeds.
In an attempt to cast himself the "God of Man", Emperor Cole quietly ordered history books to delete or minimize any mention of First Ward. Executives at the Total Praetoria Network have listed "First Ward" as a prohibited subject. There are currently no plans to "audit" the general populace by the Seers, but that is subject to change.
There is no mention of First Ward at all in "The Book of the Praetor".
(Please see its Paragon Wiki entry for more information.)
First Ward was mentioned in Issue #2 of the "Tales from Paragon City" series as a subject nobody would dare talk about.