Location: Gotham County, New Jersey, United States of America
AKA: Gotham Village; Gotham Town; The Dark-Deco State; Gotham; Nieuw Rotterdam; Fort Adolphus; New Gotham
Dimensions: 846.9 km² (327 sq mi) (divided among six islands)
Population: Pre-No Man's Land: 8,168,564/Post-No Man's Land: 2,722,851
First Appeared In:
- Detective Comics #27 (May 1939)
Gotham City is one of the oldest-established Eastern urban centres in the United States of America.
It nestles at the mouth of the Gotham River upon islands once peopled by the vanished Miagani Tribe. Though it now resides in infamy for its rampant per capita crime rate, florid urban legends, and brooding Gothic spires, Gotham's 19th-century patrons once envisioned their community as a concrete and steel stronghold for pious righteousness and booming industrial growth.
Bolstered for generations by the business ventures of the wealthy Wayne Family, Gotham's economy helped the city to flourish as a technological hub, but one founded upon the swampy soils of slow and inexorable moral decay, despite the best of intentions.
After the earthquake that levelled the city and the governmentally sanctioned No Man's Land, Gotham City was rebuilt in what would be called the "Billion Dollar Build-Up", the largest Federal Works Project for fifty years.
New Gotham's skyline is an amalgam of yesterdays and tomorrows. Newly-erected towers of glass stand side-by-side with granite Gothic citadels preserved from the old city. This dichotomy of architecture appeals to both native Gothamites and the city's teeming newcomers.
In 1609, the Dutch East India Company selected English explorer Henry Hudson to chart an easterly passage to Asia. Along his journey, he surveyed the North-eastern coastal region of what would one day become the United States. Following Hudson's course, Dutch pioneers sailed for this New World and began populating the region once inhabited by the Miagani.
The pioneers established themselves in two different colonies. One colony was set up along the shore where fishing was plentiful, and the other was developed further inland. The inland colony eventually came upon the sealed cave with a Miagani totem erected before it. Unaware of its significance, they ignored the totem's warning and loosed the shaman Blackfire. The colonists were never seen again.
Two days later, men from the coastal community travelled to visit their inland brothers. When they arrived in the village, they found the town deserted. Pools of blood dotted the streets, but there were no bodies.
On the 1765 farm of Jacob Stockman, a group of occultists attempted to summon the demon Barbathos. Panicking at the sight of a large bat, the would-be conjurers unwittingly left a netherworld spirit in limbo. As the entity would later put it before he was finally freed by the Batman, he became one with Gotham, growing as the town grew. The burial site of the demon was the area later known as Stockman’s Square (part of the original Gotham Town) and encompassed the byways Peterson Lane, Stockman Road, Helfer Road, O’Neil Boulevard, and Raspler Street.
In 1785 Gotham was devastated by fire only to be rebuilt using more modern techniques.
The Gotham River became an important thoroughfare for trade goods in pre-Civil War America. The Wayne family looked to the acquisition and parcelling of land on its road to prominence. Buying acres for pennies, including quite a bit of swampland, Charles Arwin Wayne deftly managed his family’s modest fortune and built a thriving enterprise for his two sons, Soloman Zebediah and Joshua Thomas.
By the early half of the 19th century, Gotham was a major port city known as Gotham Town.
On January 1st, 1800, the frontiersman known as Tomahawk became embroiled in a fight with a British spy named Lord Shilling. Shilling had disguised himself as Tomahawk's close ally Stovepipe in order to get in close enough to procure a piece of mystical amber that Tomahawk had acquired from occultist Jason Blood years earlier. The two fought one another inside of an immense, bat-filled cavern not far from the Wayne estate. During the fight, the piece of amber fell into a stream of molten fluid. Shilling reached to retrieve it, and the amber fused itself to his hand, mummifying his entire arm. Tomahawk severed the arm and returned with it to Gotham Town. The arm and amber later became known as the Claw of Aelkhünd. The cavern in which the two fought one another would later serve the Batman as the Batcave.
It was during this time that Gotham judge, Solomon Zebediah Wayne, formed a partnership with the architect, Cyrus Pinkney, to begin building what would become Gotham’s gothic spires and architecture; intended by Solomon to be an ever looming bulwark against iniquity. Pinkney's numerous critics however argued that his controversial constructions effectively served to barricade vice within the city.
During the time of the Civil War, Solomon and his brother, Joshua Wayne, were also conductors in the Underground Railway; secretly moving freed slaves to the north via the county’s hidden cave systems.
In 1881, architect Nicholas Anders proposed a design to build skyscapers in Gotham by increasing the depth of the building foundations.
During a wave of immigration, ethnic gangs formed to rule the streets of the city, ranging from the Irish Wounded Ravens to the Italian East-Siders not to mention the Free Men gang, Jewish Sons of David, and the All-Americans. The kept their streets safe and plundered the streets of other gangs. One day, to hide which gang killed Jeremiah Whale, a killer emerged wearing a mask. Soon, entire gangs were masked, and then masks replaced ethnicities as marks of distinction. Modern-day costumed villains were considered direct descendants of these street gangs.
By the turn of the twentieth century, Gotham came to have the same mythic quality as Transylvania.
The arrival of Green Lantern (Alan Scott) acted as a bright spot in the city’s gothic history and, in the 1940’s, Gotham was considered one of the most exciting, vibrant cities on the East Coast with architectural marvels such as buildings shaped like cash registers, blenders, and toasters.
During the 1950s, Green Lantern disappeared due to pressure from congress to remove his mask and Gotham evolved with the changing times, particularly in light of the paranoia perpetuated by the Cold War. Various bomb shelters were erected all throughout the city.
Gotham became a bleak and dark place plagued by rampant crime and depression. The one form of escapism that proved even more effective than drugs and alcohol was amusement parks and to this end an early string of amusement entrepreneurs started a chain of successful parks, which eventually bred more competition and led to the creation of even more parks for cheaper admissions fees. By the mid fifties, Gotham boasted no less than three zoos, five amusement parks, and a large number of wax museums and reptile farms. Dubbed "Wonder City", people came to the city in droves and used the amusement industry to essentially drown their sorrows.
When the recession hit in the 1960s, which had led to massive factory closures and unemployment. As a result, people were no longer able to afford coming to amusement parks and began turning more to crime. One by one, these parks closed down.
By the 1960s, Gotham City planners began an ambitious project called the "Underground Highway". Beginning at Fourth Avenue, they began building a subterranean thoroughfare designed to link with the subway system. They only managed to complete two-hundred yards worth of tunnel before budget cuts forced them to abandon the project. In later years, the unfinished highway became a haven for the homeless and even a few criminals such as Killer Croc.
The city’s decline continued as block after block fell to lawless hands. Criminals ruled the streets and the mobs had effectively neutered the police force, however things began to change after the death of respected millionaire Thomas Wayne and his wife, Martha Wayne.
A caped vigilante took to the streets, known as the Batman. Long thought to be an urban legend for the revitalized police force to hide behind or a media sensation for ratings and newspaper sales. Regardless, the myth has become a source of pride amongst Gotham’s citizens.
When the mentally handicapped saboteur Humpty Dumpty (Humphry Dumpler) unintentionally created a domino effect that caused many of Gotham’s giant rooftop displays (cash registers, blenders, toasters) to come crashing to the ground, the state senate passed the Sprang Act, which banned such objects from the skyline resulting in the city losing its unique visual style. To date the remaining props are sought after by collectors.
However, the Destroyer (Andre Sinclair), a devote fan of Cyrus Pinkney's architectural style, would later begin demolishing a large number of the city's turn-of-the-century buildings to reveal the city's old gothic spires; restoring its original gothic skyline.
There has been much debate on whether the Batman is a response to the growing tide of psychotic criminals, or whether his arrival brought them to Gotham. Regardless, the city suffered some of the greatest tragedies to befall America as a result of these villains. With the release of The Clench virus by Ra’s al Ghul, the 7.6 richter earthquake known as the Cataclysm, and the city’s abandonment by US congress as of December 31st.
Declared a Federal "No Man's Land" by the US Government who saw no hope or purpose in rebuilding the city, Gotham's bridges were dynamited and its arteries to the civilized world were severed. Day One of No Man's Land would be known in infamy as "Black Monday."
A year later, openly defying Congressional edict, Lex Luthor capitalized on public opinion rallying to reverse Gotham City's status as a No Man's Land. While the US Government argued whether or not Gotham deserved a second chance at life, Luthor descended upon Gotham and established his "Camp Lex" in Grant Park as a beachhead for retaking the city. After a fierce debate, Congress reneged and the ambitious "Billion Dollar Build-Up" Federal Works Project began, teaming LexCorp, STAR Labs, Wayne Enterprises and its charitable arm the Wayne Foundation, as well as the US Army Corps of Engineers in rebuilding Gotham from the ground up.
Recovered and rebuilt, Gotham still endured a continuous stream of super-villains, madmen and opportunistic thugs and became the scene of a city-wide gang war, known as the War Games, that was accidentally triggered by one of the Batman’s associates.
During the Infinite Crisis the fabled Rock of Eternity, home of the magician Shazam, appeared and exploded over the city skyline; causing some deleterious effects on some of the city’s citizens.
With the suspect disappearance of the Batman after the Final Crisis, the gangs and criminals went into an unrestrained uproar of crime; thinking him dead, until the Batman resurfaced again with a new Robin in tow.
As the new Batman and Robin established themselves, so too did a new group of supervillains known as the Circus of the Strange; headed by Professor Pyg. As the original Batman returns and the Black Glove villain group is destroyed, Gotham becomes ground zero for the implementation of the new Batman Incorporated program before the Flashpoint incident alters the timeline.
Moments before the timeline was altered, Brainiac bottled the city as a sample of the timeline and planted it amongst other city domes from other timelines on the planet Telos. After one year of being "under the dome", following Brainiac's disappearance, Telos released all of the city domes to pit their heroes against each other in duels to the death to decide which timeline will be able to return to existence. From the initial "release", Gotham came under simultaneous attack from The Extremists and the Gotham City from the Flashpoint universe.
Notable areas, Landmarks, Institutions and Businesses
Amusement Mile: An amusement park in Gotham, lined with ferriswheels, rollercoasters, and other attractions typical of a theme park.
The Bowery: Described as Gotham City's worst neighborhood. Bordered by Crime Alley to the north, The Bowery is home to Crown Point, a smaller inner-district ridden with crime, homelessness, and prostitution.
The Cauldron: An area known for organized crime. The Irish Mob runs most of The Cauldron and it is home to some of the most prestigious hitmen in the city.
Chinatown: Gotham's primary Asian district.
Diamond District: An area run by the Penguin during No Man's Land.
The East End: An underdeveloped part of Gotham laden with poverty, crime, prostitution, and the circulation of illegal drugs. Some writers occasionally blend the East End together with Crime Alley as a single area in the city. Catwoman takes an active interest in protecting this area.
Fashion District: An area run by the Penguin during the No Man's Land.
Gotham Bay: Gotham Bay borders the Eastern coastline of Gotham City and allows access to the Blackgate Prison facility.
Gotham Docks: This is the city's harbor.
Gotham Heights: An affluent area also known as "Bristol" and/or "Crest Hill", due to mutual proximity of the three neighborhoods. This is where Wayne Manor is located.
Gotham Square: A central area of the city resembling New York City's Times Square.
Grand Avenue: The city's main theatre district based on New York City's Broadway.
Little Odessa: Neighborhood that is home to many Russian immigrants.
New Town: An area in which during No Man's Land, was the district operated by the Ventriloquist and his puppet Scarface.
Old Gotham: The Gotham district more well-known for the location of Oracle's Clock Tower and the GCPD headquarters.
Robinson Park: The city’s main park. During No Man's Land, Poison Ivy claimed this area as her own. Named for 1940s Batman artist and Joker co-creator Jerry Robinson.
Slaughter Swamp: Just outside Gotham, this swamp 'birthed' Solomon Grundy, a frequent villain to Green Lantern (Alan Scott).
Tricorner: An island at the southwest corner of Gotham City. It is home to the Tricorner Yards.
Toxic Acres: An abandoned neighborhood of newly built houses, unsuitable for habitation due to its proximity to a toxic waste dump. To prevent illness, those entering or staying in the area need to use gas masks or take antivenin. At one-time Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn used the area as a hideout.
Aparo Park: Named for artist Jim Aparo.
Archie Goodwin International Airport: Named for writer and editor Archie Goodwin.
Barr Town: Named for writer Mike W. Barr.
Cape Carmine: Named for artist Carmine Infantino.
Dixon Dock: Named for writer Chuck Dixon.
Finger Memorial Park: Also named for Batman co-creator Bill Finger.
Grant Park: Named for writer Alan Grant.
Miller Harbor: Named for writer and artist Frank Miller.
Robbinsville: Named for artist Frank Robbins.
Robinson Park: Named for artist Jerry Robinson.
Robinson Plaza: Named for artist Jerry Robinson.
Robinson Square: Named for artist Jerry Robinson.
Falcone Penthouse: This was the home of Carmine Falcone before Two-Face killed him. This was also the place where Batman first encountered Catwoman, and first faced Two-Face.
Gotham Tower Apartments: One of the more lavish apartment complexes in Gotham City, Poison Ivy once used the penthouse suite as a base of operations. Wayne Manor: Also referred to as "Wayne Mansion" or "Stately Wayne Manor," this is the mansion estate of Bruce Wayne, and the location of the Batcave. Wayne Building: This is the headquarters of Wayne Enterprises, located at the corner of Finger and Broome Streets. Named for comic creators Bill Finger and John Broome.
R.H. Kane Building: Named for Batman co-creator Bob Kane.
One Gotham Centre:
Von Grunwald Tower:
Crystal Palace/America's Mall: Shadowcrest: The family mansion of the Zatara family.
Blackgate Maximum Security Penitentiary: The city’s main prison, located on Blackgate Isle. It was preceded by Gotham Penitentiary.
Brentwood Academy: A privately run high school once attended by Timothy Drake.
Gotham City General Hospital: This is one of the largest and busiest medical care units in all of Gotham City. Members of both the Justice League of America and the Justice Society of America were once admitted as patients here. Both Thomas Wayne and Thomas Elliot served as resident surgeons at this hospital.
Gotham County High School: A public high school once attended by Timothy Drake.
Gotham Public Library: Barbara Gordon once worked as a librarian at the Gotham Public Library in Gotham City.
Kane County Morgue: Named for Batman's creator Bob Kane.
Mercy Hospital: A hospital where Senator Kirk was admitted and pronounced dead at 11:32pm.
Gotham Historical Museum:
Gotham Rapid Transit System: The longest independently operated monorail system inthe world (134 miles).
Gotham Bridge: Located in Grant Park, the bat family meet under the south end during the Bloodhawk fiasco. The Clock Tower: A tower in central Gotham which at one time contained the secret headquarters of Barbara Gordon, for her activities as Oracle. The Clocktower was destroyed at the end of Gotham's gang war.
Finger River: Named for Batman co-creator Bill Finger.
Sprang River: Also named for artist Dick Sprang.
Ace Chemical Processing Inc.: The factory where a costumed criminal named the Red Hood fell into a vat of chemicals and became the Joker.
Finnigan's: A bar popular with uniformed police officers in Gotham. The Iceberg Lounge: A nightclub in the city center operated by the Penguin.
Killinger's Department Store: A large department store similar to Macy's in New York.
Monarch Playing Card Co.: The playing card factory adjacent to Ace Chemical Processing that the Red Hood was attempting to rob before encountering the Batman and fleeing.
My Alibi: An underworld bar in the city center.
Peregrinator's Club: This is an exclusive gentleman's club located in Gotham City. The criminal known as Facade targeted several of the club's members as robbery victims and faced off against the Batman here.
Plant Factory: The place where Batman first fought Poison Ivy during his first year of operation. It apparently burned to the ground by the end of the battle.
Ritm Marlton Hotel:
The Stacked Deck: A seedy nightclub where the most notorious criminals in Gotham go to hide out sometimes.
Tobacconists Club: The Tobacconists Club was an exclusive Gentlemen's club located in Gotham City. City councilman Rupert Thorne often used the club to conduct underworld activities.
Sprang Art Supplies: Named for artist Dick Sprang. Wayne Enterprises:
News-7: One of many television news stations operating in the DC Universe.
News-8: One of many television news stations operating in the DC Universe. This one on channel 8.
Morning Star: A newspaper available in Gotham City.
Gotham Journal: A newspaper available in Gotham City.
Global News: A newspaper available in Gotham City.
Aparo Expressway: Named for artist Jim Aparo.
Finger Street: Wayne Tower is located on one end of this street. Named for comic creator Bill Finger.
Broome Street: Wayne Tower is located on one end of this street. Named for comic creator John Broome.
Davis Avenue: Named for artist Alan Davis.
Novick Tunnel: Named for artist Irv Novick.
The Westward Bridge: Named for actors Adam West and Burt Ward.
Robert Kane Memorial Bridge: Also named for Batman co-creator Bob Kane.
Sprang Bridge: Named for artist Dick Sprang.
Some of the modern designs of Gotham's buildings are based off of concept images used for the film Batman (1989). These images also later appeared on front covers of Batman #474, Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #27, and Detective Comics #641.
On his death bed, Solomon Wayne said, "I wished to lock evil out of men's neighborhoods and hearts. I fear that instead I have given it the means to be locked in."
Cyrus Pinkney's intention for Gotham's architecture: Gotham... Gargolyes to frighten people onto the path of righteousness. Rounded Edges to Confuse the malevolent beings. Thick walls to lock in virtue.