Gotham City

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Gotham City
Gothamskyline.JPG
The Gotham skyline with the Bat signal. From Batman: City of Crime. Art by Ramon Bachs and Nathan Massengill
Publication information
PublisherDC Comics
First appearanceBatman #4 (Winter 1940)
Created byBill Finger
In story information
TypeCity
Notable peopleBruce Wayne
Dick Grayson
Jason Todd
Tim Drake-Wayne
Damian Wayne
Alfred Pennyworth
Commissioner Jim Gordon
The Riddler
Catwoman
Notable locationsWayne Manor
Batcave
Solomon Wayne Courthouse
Arkham Asylum
Ace Chemicals
Blackgate Penitentiary
Gotham City Police Department
GothCorp
Haly's Circus
Iceberg Lounge
Wayne Enterprises
 
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For a song by R. Kelly, see Gotham City (song). For other uses, see Gotham (disambiguation).
Gotham City
Gothamskyline.JPG
The Gotham skyline with the Bat signal. From Batman: City of Crime. Art by Ramon Bachs and Nathan Massengill
Publication information
PublisherDC Comics
First appearanceBatman #4 (Winter 1940)
Created byBill Finger
In story information
TypeCity
Notable peopleBruce Wayne
Dick Grayson
Jason Todd
Tim Drake-Wayne
Damian Wayne
Alfred Pennyworth
Commissioner Jim Gordon
The Riddler
Catwoman
Notable locationsWayne Manor
Batcave
Solomon Wayne Courthouse
Arkham Asylum
Ace Chemicals
Blackgate Penitentiary
Gotham City Police Department
GothCorp
Haly's Circus
Iceberg Lounge
Wayne Enterprises

Gotham City (/ˈɡɒθəm/ GOTH-əm) is a fictional American city appearing in comic books published by DC Comics, best known as the home of Batman. Batman's place of residence was first identified as Gotham City in Batman #4 (Winter 1940). New York Times journalist William Safire described Gotham City as "New York below 14th Street, from SoHo to Greenwich Village, the Bowery, Little Italy, Chinatown, and the sinister areas around the base of the Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges."[1] Batman artist Neal Adams sees the 1940s mobster history of Chicago as the basis for Gotham,[2] while writer/artist Frank Miller has stated that Metropolis is New York in the daytime and Gotham City is New York at night.[3]

Locations used as inspiration or filming locations for the urban portion of Gotham City in the live-action Batman films have included New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Pittsburgh, Newark, London, St Neots, Tokyo and Hong Kong, while British country house locations in Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire have been used to depict the less urban scene of Wayne Manor.

Origin of name[edit]

Writer Bill Finger, on the naming of the city and the reason for changing Batman's locale from New York City to a fictional city said, "Originally I was going to call Gotham City 'Civic City.' Then I tried 'Capital City,' then 'Coast City.' Then I flipped through the New York City phone book and spotted the name 'Gotham Jewelers' and said, 'That's it,' Gotham City. We didn't call it New York because we wanted anybody in any city to identify with it."[4]

"Gotham" had long been a well-known nickname for New York City even prior to Batman's 1939 introduction,[5] which explains why "Gotham Jewelers" and many other businesses in New York City have the word "Gotham" in them. The nickname was popularized in the nineteenth century, having been first attached to New York by Washington Irving in the November 11, 1807 edition of his Salmagundi,[6] a periodical which lampooned New York culture and politics. Irving took the name from the village of Gotham, Nottinghamshire, England, a place that, according to folklore, was inhabited by fools.[7] The village's name derives from Old English gat 'goat' and ham 'home', literally "homestead where goats are kept",[8] and is pronounced "goat 'em", /ˈɡtəm/ goat-əm (c.f. Chatham, /ˈætəm/ CHAT-əm, a similar name which has not undergone a tth pronunciation shift). This etymology is cited by the Joker in Detective Comics #880, in which he tells Batman that the word means "a safe place for goats".[9] In contrast, "Gotham" as used for New York or in the comics did undergo the shift and is pronounced as /ˈɡɒθəm/ GOTH-əm,[10] like the word Goth.

Fictional history[edit]

In Swamp Thing #53, Alan Moore wrote a fictional history for Gotham City that other writers have generally followed. According to Moore's tale, a Norwegian mercenary founded Gotham City and the British later took it over—a story that parallels the founding of New York by the Dutch (as New Amsterdam) and later takeover by the British. During the American Revolutionary War, Gotham City was the site of a major battle (paralleling the Battle of Brooklyn in the American Revolution). This was detailed in Rick Veitch's Swamp Thing #85 featuring Tomahawk. Rumors held it to be the site of various occult rites.

The occult origins of Gotham are further delved into by Peter Milligan's 1990 story arc "Dark Knight, Dark City",[11] which reveals that some of the American Founding Fathers are involved in summoning a bat-demon which becomes trapped beneath old "Gotham Towne", its dark influence spreading as Gotham City evolves. A similar trend is followed in 2005's Shadowpact #5 by Bill Willingham, which expands upon Gotham's occult heritage by revealing a being who has slept for 40,000 years beneath the land upon which Gotham City was built. Strega, the being's servant, says that the "dark and often cursed character" of the city was influenced by the being who now uses the name "Doctor Gotham."[volume & issue needed]

During the American Civil War, it was defended by an ancestor of The Penguin, fighting for the Union Army, Col. Nathan Cobblepot, in the Legendary Battle of Gotham Heights. In Gotham Underground #2 by Frank Tieri, Tobias Whale claims that 19th century Gotham was run by five rival gangs, until the first "masks" appeared, eventually forming a gang of their own. It is not clear whether these were vigilantes or costumed criminals.

Many storylines have added more events to Gotham's history, at the same time greatly affecting the city and its people. Perhaps the greatest in effect was a long set of serial storylines, which started with Ra's al Ghul releasing a debilitating virus called the "Clench" during the Contagion storyline. As that arc concluded, the city was beginning to recover, only to suffer an earthquake measuring 7.6 on the Richter Scale in the 1998 "Cataclysm" storyline. This resulted in the federal government cutting Gotham off from the rest of the United States in the 1999 storyline "No Man's Land". This trio of storylines allowed writers the freedom to redefine the nature and mood of the city. The result suggested a harder city with a more resilient, resourceful, and cynical populace; a more dramatic and varied architecture; and more writing possibilities by attributing new locales to the rebuilding of the city.[volume & issue needed]

The name "Gotham City" is generally associated with DC Comics, although it also appears in the first Mr. Scarlet story by France Herron and Jack Kirby from Wow Comics #1. Kirby historian Greg Theakston notes that this was published December 13, 1940, shortly before Batman #4 was published.[citation needed]

Atmosphere[edit]

In terms of atmosphere, Batman writer and editor Dennis O'Neil has said that, figuratively, "Batman's Gotham City is Manhattan below Fourteenth Street at eleven minutes past midnight on the coldest night in November."[12] Batman artist Neal Adams has long believed that Chicago, with its proliferation of mobsters in the 1940s, was the basis for Gotham, commenting, "Chicago has had a reputation for a certain kind of criminality," says Adams, who lives in New York. "Batman is in this kind of corrupt city and trying to turn it back into a better place. One of the things about Chicago is Chicago has alleys (which are virtually nonexistent in New York). Back alleys, that's where Batman fights all the bad guys."[2] Frank Miller has said that "Metropolis is New York in the daytime; Gotham City is New York at night."[3]

Gotham City's atmosphere took on a lighter tone in the comics of the 1950s and part of the 1960s, similar to the tone of Batman stories of that era. However, by the early 1970s, particularly with Dennis O'Neil becoming a prominent Batman writer,[13] the tone of the city, along with that of the stories, had become grittier. In most stories since the 70s, the portrayal of Gotham is that of a dark and foreboding metropolis rife with crime, grime, corruption, and a deep-seated sense of urban decay. This tone was particularly prominent in the parts of the city not rejuvenated post-"No Man's Land".[citation needed]

During his run as a writer, Batman scribe Grant Morrison brought about a more optimistic interpretation of Gotham City. As Morrison stated: "If Gotham was so bloody awful, no one normal would live there and there'd be no one to protect from criminals. If Gotham really was an open sewer of crime and corruption, every story set there would serve to demonstrate the complete and utter failure of Batman's mission, which isn't really the message we want to send, is it? You've got Batman and all his allies as well as Commissioner Gordon and the city still exudes a vile miasma of darkness and death? I can't buy that. It's simply not realistic and flies in the face of in-story logic (and you know I like my comics realistic!) so my artists and I have taken a different tack and we want to show the cool, vibrant side of Gotham, the energy and excitement that would draw people to live and visit there."[14]

Architecture[edit]

Art deco and art nouveau buildings, such as the Helsinki Central Railway Station have served as an inspiration for some depictions of Gotham.[15]

Different artists have depicted Gotham City in different ways. They often base their interpretations on various real architectural periods and styles with exaggerated characteristics, such as massively multi-tiered flying buttresses on Gothic cathedrals or the huge art deco and art nouveau statuary seen in Tim Burton's movie version. Cyberpunk, Japanese, and Greek elements were presented in Joel Schumacher's series of films.[citation needed]

Christopher Nolan, who once lived in Chicago, effected a depiction of Gotham that featured distinct Chicago architecture[2] and which is cartographically based on the canon DC map of Gotham.[citation needed] Batman Begins features a CGI augmented version of Chicago while The Dark Knight more directly features Chicago infrastructure and architecture such as Navy Pier: however, The Dark Knight Rises abandoned Chicago, instead shooting in Pittsburgh, Los Angeles, New York City, Newark, New Jersey, London and Glasgow.[16][17][18][19][20][21]

Within the Batman comics, the person cited as being influential in promoting the unique architecture of Gotham City during the pre-American Civil War era was Judge Solomon Wayne, Bruce Wayne's ancestor. His campaign to reform Gotham came to a head when he met a young architect named Cyrus Pinkney. Wayne commissioned Pinkney to design and to build the first "Gotham Style" structures in what became the center of the city's financial district. The "Gotham Style" idea of the writers matches parts of the Gothic Revival in style and timing. In a 1992 storyline, a man obsessed with Pinkney's architecture blew up several Gotham buildings in order to reveal the Pinkney structures they had hidden; the editorial purpose behind this was to transform the city depicted in the comics to resemble the designs created by Anton Furst for the 1989 Batman film.[22][23][24]

Arkham Asylum: Living Hell mentions the "Sprang Act", which forbids Gothamite businesses from advertising on rooftops. It was passed after minor villain Humpty Dumpty over-wound the mainspring of the city hall clock, causing the hour hand to jump off and knock one of the billboards down, causing a chain reaction.[25]

After the "No Man's Land" and "Cataclysm" storylines, Lex Luthor took on the task of rebuilding Gotham City, replacing many of Gotham's old art deco and Gothic structures with modern glass skyscrapers and buildings.[volume & issue needed]

Police and corruption[edit]

A common theme in stories set in Gotham is the rampant and recurring corruption within the city's civil authorities and infrastructure, most notably within the Gotham City Police Department. During stories set early in Batman's career (most notably Batman: Year One), Commissioner Gillian B. Loeb was depicted as having his hands in many pockets. However, Batman found evidence for conspiracy charges, forcing Loeb to resign his position. Later stories depicted subsequent commissioners as also being corruptible, or open to various forms of influence. In other stories, Batman has had to take on crooked cops, either acting in collusion with supervillains, working for the mob, or on their own. Later stories, featuring James Gordon as the new Commissioner, show the two characters often uniting to purge corruption from the force. Gordon was the commissioner for about 9 to 10 years of continuity, then retired, handing the police force over to his replacement, Commissioner Akins.[citation needed] Recent stories have returned Gordon to the position of Commissioner, unfortunately to find corruption taking a greater hold since his departure. In the 1966 television series, Batman, the Gotham City police force was not a focus of the stories.

Gotham Underground[edit]

Geography[edit]

Gotham City map (1999).
Cartography by Eliot R. Brown, designed to reflect the geography of Gotham City post-"No Man's Land" and Gotham City Secret Files and Origins

Gotham City's geography, like other fictional cities' geographies in the DC Universe, has varied over the decades, because of changing writers, editors, and storylines. The majority of appearances place Gotham on the Northeastern coast of the United States, where New York City is located. Also, Manhattan is an island in the Northeastern United States, which corresponds to maps depicting Gotham City. However, the 1990 Atlas of the DC Universe states that Gotham is located in New Jersey, across the Delaware Bay from Metropolis, which would place it on the southern coast of New Jersey.

Historically, "Gotham" has been a nickname for New York City originating on November 11, 1807 by Washington Irving in his Salmagundi Papers.[6] DC Comics publisher and former president Paul Levitz says that Gotham is "New York from 14th Street down, the older buildings, more brick-and-mortar as opposed to steel-and-glass."[citation needed] New York Times journalist William Safire described Gotham City as "New York below 14th Street, from SoHo to Greenwich Village, the Bowery, Little Italy, Chinatown, and the sinister areas around the base of the Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges."[1]

Christopher Nolan has stated that Chicago is the basis of his portrayal of Gotham, and the majority of both Batman Begins and The Dark Knight were filmed there.[2]

In the television series Young Justice, in the episode "Schooled", an onscreen map indicates that Gotham City is located in Southwest Connecticut, near Bridgeport.

Relationship with Metropolis[edit]

Gotham City is frequently depicted to be within driving distance of Metropolis, the home of Superman. Like Gotham, Metropolis' location has also varied over the years. The distance between Gotham and Metropolis has varied greatly over the years, with depictions of the two ranging from being hundreds of miles apart to Gotham and Metropolis being shown as twin cities on opposite sides of Delaware Bay, with Gotham City in New Jersey and Metropolis in Delaware.[33][34]

In Bronze Age stories that depicted Metropolis and Gotham City as twin cities, the Metro-Narrows Bridge was said to be the main route connecting Metropolis to Gotham City.[35][36] It has been described as being the longest suspension bridge in the world.[37]

A map appeared in The New Adventures of Superboy #22 (October 1981), that showed Smallville within driving distance of both Metropolis and Gotham City. (In post-Crisis comics, Smallville was officially relocated to Kansas.[38]) 1990's The Atlas of the DC Universe also places Metropolis in Delaware and Gotham City in New Jersey.[39]

Notable residents[edit]

The various comic book series of the Batman family of books are set in Gotham, and feature characters such as Nightwing, Huntress, Black Canary, Barbara Gordon and Batwoman.

Other DC characters have also been depicted to be living in Gotham, such as mercenary Tommy Monaghan.[40]

Within modern DC Universe continuity, Batman is not the first hero in Gotham. Stories featuring Alan Scott, the Golden Age Green Lantern, set before and during World War II depict Scott living in Gotham, and later depictions show him running his Gotham Broadcasting Corporation.[41]

DC's 2011 reboot of All Star Western takes place in an Old West-styled Gotham. Jonah Hex and Amadeus Arkham are among this version of Gotham's inhabitants.[42]

Apart from Gotham's superhero residents, the residents of the city feature in a back-up series in Detective Comics called Tales of Gotham City[43] and in two limited series called Gotham Nights. Additionally, the Gotham City Police Department is the focus of the series Gotham Central, as well as the mini-series Gordon's Law, Bullock's Law, and GCPD.

Mayors in the comic books[edit]

Several mayors of Gotham have appeared in the comic book series that collectively form the Batman Family of titles:

Officers of the law in the comics[edit]

Notable areas, landmarks, institutions and businesses[edit]

Gotham City is a major economic center within the United States of the DC Universe. Its important industries include manufacturing; shipping; finance; fine arts, represented by its numerous museums, galleries, and jewelers; and the production of giant novelty props. In addition to its commercial seaport, it also supports a naval shipyard.[44]

In other media[edit]

Television[edit]

Films[edit]

Tim Burton films[edit]

Gotham City's skyline, as it appears in the 1989 Batman movie.

For the 1989 film Batman, the look of Gotham was designed by production designer Anton Furst, who won an Oscar for his work on the film.[54] Wayne Manor's exteriors utilized Knebworth House, a Gothicised Tudor, while its interiors were Hatfield House in Hatfield. The Axis Chemical Works, where Jack Napier (Jack Nicholson) plunges into the chemical sludge, was filmed at a disused power station in Acton Lane, West London. The exploding exterior was Little Barford Power Station, a couple of miles south of St Neots in Cambridgeshire.[55]

Tim Burton's 1992 sequel, Batman Returns, filmed city scenes entirely on soundstages.[56] Production designer Bo Welch, who took over from Furst, based his designs on Furst's concepts.[54][57]

Joel Schumacher films[edit]

Gotham City as shown in Batman Forever.

When Joel Schumacher took over directing the Batman film series from Tim Burton, Barbara Ling handled the production design for both of Schumacher's films (1995's Batman Forever[58][59][60] and 1997's Batman & Robin[61][62][63]). Ling's vision of Gotham City was a luminous and outlandish evocation of Modern expressionism[64] and Constructivism.[65] Its futuristic-like concepts (to a certain extent, akin to the 1982 film Blade Runner[66]) appeared to be sort of a cross between Manhattan and the "Neo-Tokyo" of Akira. Ling admitted her influences for the Gotham City design came from "neon-ridden Tokyo and the Machine Age. Gotham is like a World's Fair on ecstasy."[67] During Mr. Freeze’s attempt to freeze Gotham in the film Batman & Robin, the targeting screen for his giant laser locates it somewhere on the New England shoreline, possibly as far north as Maine. The soundtrack for Batman & Robin features a song named after the city and sung by R. Kelly, later included on international editions of his 1998 double album R.

Christopher Nolan films[edit]

Gotham City as shown in Batman Begins
Batman Begins

The first two Batman films in Christopher Nolan's franchise were filmed in Chicago. In Batman Begins the art deco Chicago Board of Trade Building was used for the film's Wayne Tower, which in the film, was also as the hub of Gotham's water and elevated railway systems. Garrick Theatre stood in as Gotham's opera house. 35 East Wacker was used as the Gotham courthouse. Mentmore Towers in Buckinghamshire was used to portray Wayne Manor.[68] Nolan desired that Gotham appeared as a large, modern city that nonetheless reflected a variety of architecture styles and periods, as well as different socioeconomic strata. The production's approach depicted Gotham as an exaggeration of New York, with elements taken from Chicago, the elevated freeways and monorails of Tokyo,[69] and the "walled city of Kalhoon" [sic] in Hong Kong, which was the basis for the slum in the film known as The Narrows.[68][69]

In the animated Batman: Gotham Knight, which takes place between Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, The Narrows was converted into an expansion of Arkham Asylum.

The Dark Knight

In The Dark Knight, Wayne Enterprises was previously depicted at the Chicago Board of Trade Building, now the Richard J. Daley Center. As Wayne Manor was being reconstructed during the events of The Dark Knight, a digitally enhanced Hotel 71 was used as Bruce Wayne's penthouse. 330 North Wabash was used as Gotham City Hall and houses Mayor Garcia's office and Harvey Dent's office. The climax of the movie on the Prewitt Building uses the then-under-construction Trump Tower. Other Chicago landmarks seen in The Dark Knight include the Marina City towers, Sears Tower, Navy Pier, the Randolph Street Metra Station, and 111 East Wacker Drive.[70] It is revealed that downtown Gotham, or much of the city, is on an island, similar to New York City's Manhattan Island, as suggested by the Gotham Island Ferry. However, while Gordon is discussing evacuation plans with the Mayor, land routes to the east are mentioned. In conversation with Harvey Dent, Bruce Wayne indicates that the Palisades of the Wayne Manor estate are within the city limits. In terms of population, Lucius Fox says that the city houses "30 million people". The film indicates that the city's area code is 735, which in real life is an unused code.

The Dark Knight Rises

For The Dark Knight Rises, the production utilized Pittsburgh, Los Angeles, New York City, Newark, New Jersey, London and Glasgow for shots of Gotham City.[16][17][18][19] [20][21] Locations in Pittsburgh included the Mellon Institute and Software Engineering Institute at Carnegie Mellon University,[16] and Heinz Field, which is used as Gotham City's football stadium.[71] A scene where John Blake confronts two construction workers at the "Broucek Cement Company" was filmed at the Frank Bryan Cement Plant in South Pittsburgh.[71] In Manhattan, the Trump Tower replaced the Richard J. Daley Center as the location for the headquarters of Wayne Enterprises.[18] The JP Morgan Building at 23 Wall Street represents the exterior of the Gotham City Stock Exchange, the area of Park Avenue around 84th Street is used for the scene in which rich citizens are dragged from their homes, and Batman surveys the city from atop the Queensboro Bridge. In Newark, Military Park Station, on the Newark Light Rail, between Orange Street and Penn Station, is used as the subway tunnel through which Catwoman lures Batman into Bane's trap,[71] and Newark City Hall was used as the Red Cross shelter inhabited by Bane's guerrilla army.[21][71]

Animated films[edit]

During the events of the direct-to-video film, Batman & Mr. Freeze: SubZero, a computer screen displaying Barbara Gordon's personal information refers to her location as "Gotham City, NY", and also displays her area code as being 212 - a Manhattan area code.

Video games[edit]

Batman: Arkham[edit]

References[edit]

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  67. ^ Barbara Ling, Bigger, Bolder, Brighter: The Production Design of Batman & Robin. 2005. Warner Home Video
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  71. ^ a b c d "The Dark Knight Rises film locations". Retrieved December 9, 2012. 

Sources[edit]

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