Gotham City

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Gotham City is a city appearing in DC Comics, and is best known as the home of Batman. Batman's place of residence was first identified as Gotham City in Detective Comics #48 (February 1941).



In Swamp Thing #53, Alan Moore wrote a history for Gotham City that other writers have generally followed. According to Moore's tale, a Norwegian mercenary founded Gotham City in 1635 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 and rumors held it to be the site of various occult rites.

Shadowpact #5 by Bill Willingham expanded upon Gotham's occult heritage by depicting 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."

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 impact 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 wrapped, the city was beginning to recover, only to suffer an earthquake described as being 7.6 on the Richter Scale in "Cataclysm". This resulted in the federal government cutting Gotham off from the rest of the United States in "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.

Name and New York City connection

Gotham is known to be architecturally modeled after New York City, but with exaggerated elements of the styles of the city; before Detective Comics #48, Batman's adventures were said to happen in New York City. Gotham City derives its name from a sobriquet for New York City which was first popularized by the author Washington Irving in his satirical work Salmagundi (1807). Irving adopted the name from the story of the Wise Men of Gotham, in which the inhabitants of the town of Gotham (in Nottinghamshire, England) behave like madmen.

The name "Gotham City" is generally associated with Batman and 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 Detective Comics #48 was published.


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."

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 the tone of the city, as well as that of the stories, had become grittier. Today, including in the newest Christopher Nolan movies, the portrayal of Gotham is a dark and foreboding place rife with crime, grime, corruption, and a deep-seated sense of urban decay, rather like Chicago and Detroit.


Different artists have depicted Gotham in different ways. But they often base their interpretations on various real architectural periods and styles, with exaggerated characteristics, such as massively multi-tiered flying buttresses on cathedrals, or the huge Art Deco and Art Nouveau statuary seen in Tim Burton's movie version.

Within the Batman mythos, 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.[3][4][5]

After "No Man's Land", Lex Luthor took the challenge of rebuilding Gotham City after the events of "Cataclysm". Gotham's old Art-deco and Gothic structures were replaced with modern glass skyscrapers and buildings.

Police and corruption

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. Recent stories have returned Gordon to the position of Commissioner, unfortunately to find corruption taking a greater hold since his departure.


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. At various times the depiction has Gotham on the shores of "Lake Gotham". The majority of appearances, however, place Gotham on the eastern coast of the United States.

Maps shown in various comics have depicted the city in different places. Many of the maps directly use Manhattan, Vancouver, and other real coastlines as their basis, while others are completely original. One map showing Gotham City in relation to Metropolis, the home of Superman, published in New Adventures of Superboy #22 (October 1981), placed Gotham City and Metropolis on opposite sides of a large bay. In Swamp Thing vol. 2, #53 (October 1986) the geography of Rhode Island was the basis of another map of Gotham City. The current definitive maps of Gotham City are those based on the ones produced for the "No Man's Land" story arc. Director Christopher Nolan commissioned a map of Gotham for his movie Batman Begins that also used the "No Man's Land" map as a basis. The airport was moved to the Northeast, Narrows Island was inserted between Midtown and Downtown, and Wayne Tower was moved to Midtown, about where the "54" marker on the map to the left is located.[citation needed]

The distance between Gotham City and Metropolis has varied over the years, ranging everywhere from being hundreds of miles apart to being twin cities on opposite sides of a large bay. Blüdhaven, a city that for several years was home to Nightwing, is located near Gotham City. Additionally, the Seven Soldiers of Victory series Klarion the Witch Boy, calls New York City the "Cinderella City", referring to nearby Metropolis and Gotham as its "ugly stepsisters".

One older theory was proposed by Mark Gruenwald, who later went on to be a major writer/editor at Marvel Comics, and published in the 1970s in the DC house fanzine, The Amazing World of DC Comics in an issue dedicated to the Justice League. Gruenwald suggested that Gotham City is located somewhere in the state of New Jersey while Metropolis is located in close vicinity to Washington, D.C.

Man-Bat #3 refers to Gotham City being in the Central Time zone.

According to the Planetary/Batman one-shot, a Gotham City also exists in the Wildstorm universe. It is similar to its DC Universe counterpart, but is not usually home to costumed vigilantes. In Captain Atom: Armageddon Gotham City does not exist in the Wildstorm universe.

The Atlas of the DC Universe, published in 1990 by Mayfair Games Inc. as a supplement to the DC Heroes role-playing game (under license from DC Comics), places Gotham City in southern New Jersey (and Metropolis in Delaware). This source, never officially recognized by DC Comics, has since been contradicted with regards to other locations.

In the Batgirl series, as well as in the Vertigo Comics' Sandman series, Gotham is implied to be an entire state, analgous to New York, with Gotham City as its capital. In both cases, the book refers to "Upstate Gotham".

A Gotham City driver's licence shown in Batman: Shadow of the Bat annual #1, contains the line "Gotham City, NJ", placing Gotham City in New Jersey.

Detective Comics #503 (June 1983) includes several references suggesting Gotham City is in or near New Jersey. A location on the Jersey Shore is described as "twenty miles north of Gotham." Robin and Batgirl drive from a "secret New Jersey airfield" to Gotham City and then drive on the "Hudson County Highway." Hudson County is the name of an actual New Jersey county.

Notable residents

Many comic book series and characters are set in Gotham. The most notable characters are Batman and Robin. Some of the most prominent characters directly connected to Batman whose adventures are set in Gotham are Nightwing, Huntress, Barbara Gordon and most recently Batwoman.

Other DC characters have also been depicted to be living in Gotham, including Jason Blood, Ragman, The Question, Plastic Man, Zatara and Zatanna, Simon Dark, and Tommy Monaghan, the anti-hero Hitman. The superhero teams Section 8 and the Justice Society of America are also shown operating in Gotham City.

Within the 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. Additionally, the Justice Society of America and the Golden Age Black Canary have been depicted as operating in Gotham. Black Canary's daughter, the Modern Age Black Canary, is based in Gotham through much of the Birds of Prey series. Arella (formerly Angela Roth), a supporting character in Teen Titans and mother of Titan member Raven, is shown in flashback to have resided in Gotham City as a teenager.

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"[issue # needed] and in two limited series called Gotham Nights. Additionally, the Gotham City Police Department is the focus of the series Gotham Central.

In other media


The 1960s live-action Batman television series never specified Gotham's location. The related theatrical movie, however, showed Gotham to have a harbor and a beach. One episode refers to Gotham Rock, implying a location analogous to Boston.A Tourist's Guide to Gotham City

1989 movie

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

In the opening lines of the Sam Hamm screenplay to the 1989 film version, Gotham is described as Hell erupted through the pavement and built a city (similar to a Pandæmonium, or the capital of hell, from the terms of John Milton). The logic in screenplay is when elevators were utilized for taller structures, the buildings over a few stories were built around the existing structures of Gotham Town. These skyscapers cast a shadow over the city coupled with the smoke from Gotham's industry kept the city in perpetual dusk.

A map of Gotham City used in the film Batman (1989) was actually an inverted map of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. In the same movie, a map of the Axis Chemical plant was actually a map of the Capitol Hill neighborhood in Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada.

Anton Furst did the production design for the first Batman film directed by Tim Burton. Anton Furst's set designs for the Batman movie were an attempt to imagine what might have happened to New York City had there been no planning commission and had it been run by pure extortion and crime. Hence, there were no height restrictions, the skyscrapers were cantilevered toward the street rather than away, there were lots of bridges over the streets. In return, the city appeared to be extremely dark and claustrophobic. Burton even stated himself that his take on Gotham was "As if Hell came sprouting out of the concrete and kept right on growing."

The individual buildings in Furst's version of Gotham were based on a whole host of influences. The cathedral was based on Antoni Gaudí's Sagrada Família, the Flugelheim Museum exterior was based on the work of Shin Takamatsu, and some of the other influences were Otto Wagner, Norman Foster, and Albert Speer.Comic Book Resources Forums - View Single Post - Gotham City Architecture Influences In essence, Furst deliberately mixed clashing architectural styles to make Gotham City the ugliest and bleakest metropolis imaginable.

For Wayne Manor, Knebworth House, a Gothic Tudor mansion 28 miles north of London was used for the exterior. The interior however, is Hatfield House, Hertfordshire.

Batman Returns

Gotham during Christmas, as seen in Batman Returns.
Gotham during Christmas, as seen in Batman Returns.

For Tim Burton's second Batman film, Batman ReturnsBatman Returns - Gotham City (1992), Bo Welch took over the production designSETS APPEAL: DESIGNING 'BATMAN RETURNS' duties from Anton Furst. Welch for the most part, based his designs on Furst's concepts.Lensed seemingly entirely indoors or on covered sets, pic is a magnificently atmospheric elaboration on German expressionism. Its look has been freshly imagined by production designer Bo Welch, based on the Oscar-winning concepts of the late Anton Furst in the first installment. Welch's Gotham City looms ominously over all individuals, and every set--from Penguin's aquariumlike lair and Shreck's lavish offices to Bruce Wayne's vaguely "Citizen Kane"-like mansion and simple back alleys--is brilliantly executed to maximum evocative effect. Whereas Anton Furst's designs showed a considerable amount of sinister visual grandeur, Bo Welch's designs had a more whimsical approach.And the sinister visual grandeur of the late Anton Furst has given way to the more whimsical approachThe sets by Bo Welch are amazing, a Teutonic, "Metropolis"-like Gotham -- perfect to house the larger than life characters.The three-way story, involving Keaton's Batman, DeVito's Penguin and Pfeiffer's Catwoman, takes place in a wonderland of moody sets by Bo Welch.

Batman Forever/Batman & Robin

When Joel Schumacher took over directing the Batman films from Tim Burton, Barbara Ling handled the production design for both of Schumacher's films (1995's Batman Forever In collaboration with production designer Barbara Ling and her crew, Schumacher has kept the series' dark and monumental look (the legacy of Frank Miller's brilliant graphic novel "Batman: The Dark Knight Returns") and, as advertised, lightened the project's overall tone.] and 1997's Batman & Robin Barbara Ling's no-holds-barred production design makes Gotham look more surreal than ever.]). Ling's vision of Gotham City was a luminous and marvelously outlandish evocation of Modern expressionism.``Batman & Robin's look is luminous and marvelously outlandish throughout. Barbara Ling's production design is outstanding, a stunning evocation of modern Expressionism.] Its futuristic-like concepts (to a certain extent, akin to the 1982 film Blade RunnerDeparting from former "Batman" director Tim Burton's gothic approach to New York, Schumacher and production designer Barbara Ling compulsively layer the background with a futuristic city design that seems to aim for "Blade Runner" by way of "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.") appeared to be sort of a cross between Manhattan and the "Neo-Tokyo" of Akira.

Batman Forever was going to be shot in Cincinnati, using the old subway tunnel. The exterior of the Gotham City Hippodrome (the arena where the "Flying Graysons" performed their trapeze act) is based on the exterior of Union Terminal, a famous 1930s Art Deco train station in Cincinnati.

Exterior scenes of Wayne Manor for Batman Forever were filmed at the Webb Institute of Naval Architecture in Long Island, New York. The production team had to change the school's "W" on the entrance gate because it had an anchor behind it.

The exterior set for Two-Face's hide out in Batman Forever was the same set used in the first disappearance of Max Shreck in Batman Returns.

The Arkham Asylum that was seen in Batman Forever was designed as a tall, spiraling castle-like structure, with narrow hallways lined with brightly-lit glass bricks.

During Mr. Freeze’s attempt to freeze Gotham in the film Batman & Robin (1997), 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 featured a song named after the city and sung by R. Kelly.

Batman Begins

Gotham City as shown in Batman Begins.
Gotham City as shown in Batman Begins.

Batman Begins (2005) leaves the location of Gotham ambiguous. Alfred comments that the caverns beneath Wayne Manor that are to be converted into the Batcave were once used by a Wayne ancestor to hide escaping slaves in the Underground Railroad. This places the location anywhere from the northeast United States to Iowa. In another scene involving the new 'Batmobile', a reference to I-17 is made. In reality, however, Interstate 17 is located entirely within the state of Arizona. For Wayne Manor itself, the former Rothschild estate, Mentmore Towers in Buckinghamshire, was used to portray its exterior and interior.

The Gotham depicted in Batman Begins is a digitally-enhanced Chicago, complete with its famous elevated train tracks, skyline, and subterranean streets filmed on Lower Wacker Drive. Various Chicago skyscrapers are visible in several shots, including a part of the Sears Tower, Two Prudential Plaza, the Water Tower and the twin Marina City towers. Even the automobile license plates shown throughout the film are reminiscent of Illinois' license plate design. The Chicago Board of Trade Building was the visual inspiration for the film's Wayne Tower design.

Director Christopher Nolan worked with production designer Nathan Crowley to create the look of Gotham City. Nolan designed Gotham City to be a large, modern metropolitan area that would reflect the various periods of architecture that the city had gone through. Elements were drawn from New York City, Chicago, and Tokyo, the latter for its elevated freeways and monorails, but it could be seen that they were much more inspired by the 1927 film Metropolis.

In Batman Begins, the Narrows was based on the slummish nature of the now-demolished walled city of Kowloon in Hong Kong.Template:Cite news One notable change in this version of Arkham Asylum from the comics was the location. While the location has varied in the comics, it is generally located some distance outside of Gotham City, often in a rural or forested location. However, Batman Begins has it in the middle of Gotham City, located in the Narrows.

Batman: The Animated Series

In a first season episode entitled "Joker's Favor," Batman: The Animated Series (1992-1995) depicted a driver's license of a Gotham area resident, listing his hometown as "Gotham Estates, NY". This implies that Gotham City borders or is within the state of New York, and has suburbs (such as Gotham Estates) within commuting distance. In one episode, when Bruce Wayne leaves for England, it shows Gotham City located on New York's Long Island, clearly in the same location of Queens County.

Another episode of the same television show, however, implies that Gotham resides in a state of the same name. A prison workshop was shown stamping license plates that read "Gotham - The Dark Deco State" (as a reference to the artistic style of the series, this plate may have been intended to simply be one of the visual gags that were common on the program). In addition, the episode entitled "Harlequinade" states that Gotham City has a population of approximately 10 million people.

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

Batman Beyond

Batman Beyond envisions a Gotham City fifty years into the future. In it, a futuristic architecture which mixes gothic and Asian influences, reminiscent of the film Akira, with elevated streets looping around buildings, has replaced the gothic architecture based on early 20th century American city.

The Batman

Gotham City in The Batman shares many similarities to Gotham depicted in Batman Begins, resembling a darker New York or Chicago in architecture. Elements of art decor, albeit toned down, are prevalent as well. The sky is almost always coloured red or green when depicted at night. Landmarks in the series include Lady Gotham, with an outstretched arm holding a sword and the other holding a shield. Wayne Manor is positioned in Gotham City itself, and has a taller, less stately appearance, resembling New York's Waldorf Astoria hotel in parts.

Landmarks in other media

  • Batman: The Animated Series
  • The Statue of Justice — The statue varies from the comics in that she is shown holding a shield and a torch.
  • Stonegate Prison — The city's main prison as opposed to "Blackgate" in the comics.
  • Batman Beyond
  • Crime Alley — Bruce Wayne used his influence to keep the street preserved during the rebuilding of Gotham, making it the only part of the present-day Gotham City to remain.
  • Batman (1989 film)
  • Axis Chemicals — The factory where Jack Napier fell into a vat of chemicals and became the Joker. The name differs from Ace Chemical Processing Inc. in the comics.
  • Batman Begins
  • Gotham Docks — This is the site of the final arrest of Carmine Falcone.
  • The Narrows — An even seedier, grittier portion of Gotham than the East End. Described as dangerous and dilapidated, the residents of the city often viewed the area as the skid row of Gotham. The area is located on an island joined to Gotham proper by the Narrowsborough Bridge, an obvious dig into New York's very own Queensboro Bridge. Arkham Asylum is located in this area. This area is similar to the East End, though it is unclear if it is supposed to be that same area.

Alternate officers of the law

  • Batman (1960s TV show)
  • Batman (1989 film)
  • Birds of Prey (TV series from 2002-2003)
  • Detective Jesse Reese - Was played by Shemar Moore. The only honest cop in New Gotham who can help the Birds of Prey.
  • The Batman (TV series started in 2004)

Mayors in other media

  • Batman (1960s live-action TV series)
  • Mayor Linseed, played by Byron Keith. His name was a play on the name of New York City's then-mayor, John Lindsay. The governor of "Gotham State" was Stonefeller (as opposed to Nelson Rockefeller, who was governor of New York State during the same period). There was also a West River (as opposed to New York's East River), and "Bernie Park's Gallery", compared to the real Park Bernet Gallery.
  • Hamilton HillLloyd Bochner provides his voice in this television show. In Batman Beyond, there is a high school named after him.
  • Marion Grange — In a divergence from the comics, Grange is a male character. Adam West, who played Batman in the first television series, provides his voice.
  • Hamilton Hill - The new mayor of Gotham after Grange retires. In the TV series, he is portrayed as an African American. Lex Lang provides his voice.
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