I like Demiansky's Well of Life idea.
I think this direction is good for using essence to get more out of one particular city. Plus I like the idea to tie this essence expenditure to a building.
However, one thing I will argue is that it should still require essence to expand living earth (at least once). There should be a definite choice between using essence to spread the wealth (twice) to get a monopoly of land, or to spend it once to (use the other essence) build a super city.
Following the Well of Life idea, I will add a few more.
Pride of the Nation (statue? building?)-> All materials acquired at this city +50%. Uses 5 essence, can only be built once.
Soul of the Nation (fountain)-> All spell points in this city +50%. Uses 5 essence, can only be built once.
// as a note, not sure whether the rule should be *only built once* or *can only own one* ... in the case of conquests, refugee cities, and repatriation. Just something to think about.
The Great Library (imbued with essence, this library reaches into the minds of the entire population. It controls them, feels them with a desire for knowledge, and lures them into the halls of the grand library. Without being aware of what they are doing, their inner brainpower is tapped into, and the grand Librarian can use all of this raw brainpower to better further his own efforts and studies)
-> costs 5 essence, all buildings (any building) gains +1 knowledge for each space they use. Requires mid-level Magic Tech + Mid-Level Civilization Tech. Can only built once IN THE ENTIRE WORLD -> World Wonder.