Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction. And sometimes truth can inspire fiction.
Coober Pedy is an underground mining town built right into the mine. 
In video games, a town is supposed to be a safe place. So why are there bottomless pits? To protect the town from criminals. The village al-Hajjarah was built into a cliff.
A tulou is a ring-shaped apartment building where all apartments face a central courtyard.
In China's Shaanxi province, people live in holes dug into the side of a hill and farm the land on top. (I would have gone for a reference to Tolkien's hobbits rather than Wells's Eloi and Morlocks here, but whatever. Perhaps the authors of this article had used up all their "Tolkienesque" capital earlier for a bit about a city built under huge boulders.)
Street frontage design for a small town
Why do computer RPG item shops make the user order from a menu system like a restaurant or a vending machine? They're simulating pre-Piggly-Wiggly grocery stores, where all products were behind the counter.
In one trip to a city somewhere in Noen, a scout reports seeing a "road toboggan" motorcycle, a rowbike, a round 2-seat scooter looking like a bumper boat, and some other land transport contraptions that never took off in the real world.
In the American West, the bank, general store, and saloon tended to be located near the sheriff's office.
Vikings had accurate sundials with light-concentrating prisms, and ancient China had saltwater and natural gas pipelines.
Dumpster diving is a living in Manshiyat Naser, a slum whose residents live off Cairo's garbage. The same is true of Cateura, a village built on the landfill of Asunción, Paraguay. But searching trash dumps for valuable things to sell happens even in industrialized countries, and not just the socially disadvantaged parts.
The city of Austin, Texas, held a campaign to rename its city dump. Austin turned down a name involving Limp Bizkit frontman Fred Durst and went with "Austin Resource Recovery". The name was said to sound like landfill mining.
And some scrappers enter abandoned buildings illegally to steal metal.
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