Shot of Gotham City in Batman vol. 3, #14
(March 2017) by Mitch Gerads
|First appearance||Batman #4|
|Created by||Bill Finger|
|Notable locations||Ace Chemicals|
Gotham City Police Department
Gotham City (// GOTH-əm), or simply Gotham, is a fictional city appearing in American comic books published by DC Comics, best known as the home of Batman. The city was first identified as Batman's place of residence in Batman #4 (December 1940) and has since been the primary setting for stories featuring the character.
Gotham City is traditionally depicted as being located in the U.S. state of New Jersey. Over the years, Gotham's look and atmosphere has been influenced by cities such as New York City and Chicago.
Locations used as inspiration or filming locations for Gotham City in the live-action Batman films and television series have included New York City, New Jersey, Chicago, Vancouver, Detroit, Pittsburgh, Los Angeles, London, and Hong Kong.
Origin of name
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."
"Gotham" has been a nickname for New York City that first became popular in the nineteenth century; Washington Irving had first attached it to New York in the November 11, 1807 edition of his Salmagundi, a periodical which lampooned New York culture and politics. Irving took the name from the village of Gotham, Nottinghamshire, England: a place inhabited, according to folklore, by fools.
Location in New Jersey
Gotham City, like other cities in the DC Universe, has varied in its portrayals over the decades, but the city's location is traditionally depicted as being in the state of New Jersey. In Amazing World of DC Comics #14 (March 1977), publisher Mark Gruenwald discusses the history of the Justice League and indicates that Gotham City is located in New Jersey.
In the World's Greatest Super Heroes (August 1978) comic strip, a map is shown placing Gotham City in New Jersey and Metropolis in Delaware. World's Finest Comics #259 (November 1979) also confirms that Gotham is in New Jersey. New Adventures of Superboy #22 (October 1981) and the 1990 Atlas of the DC Universe both show maps of Gotham City in New Jersey and Metropolis in the state of Delaware.
Detective Comics #503 (June 1983) includes several references suggesting Gotham City is in New Jersey. A location on the Jersey Shore is described as "twenty miles north of Gotham". Within the same issue, 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 county in New Jersey.
Batman: Shadow of the Bat, Annual #1 (June 1993) further establishes that Gotham City is in New Jersey. Sal E. Jordan's driver's license in the comic shows his address as "72 Faxcol Dr Gotham City, NJ 12345".
In relation to Metropolis
Gotham City is the home of Batman, just as Metropolis is home to Superman, and the two heroes often work together in both cities. In comic book depictions, the exact distance between Gotham and Metropolis has varied over the years, with the cities usually being within driving distance of each other. The two cities are sometimes portrayed as twin cities on opposite sides of the Delaware Bay, with Gotham in New Jersey and Metropolis in Delaware. The Atlas of the DC Universe from the 1990s places Metropolis in Delaware and Gotham City in New Jersey.
New York City has also garnered the nickname Metropolis to describe the city in the daytime in popular culture, contrasting with Gotham, sometimes used to describe New York City at night. During the Bronze Age of Comic Books, the Metro-Narrows Bridge was depicted as the main route connecting the twin cities of Metropolis and Gotham City. It has been described as being the longest suspension bridge in the world.
A map appeared in The New Adventures of Superboy #22 (October 1981), that showed Smallville within driving distance of both Metropolis and Gotham City; Smallville was relocated to Kansas in post-Crisis continuity. A map of the United States in The Secret Files & Origins Guide to the DC Universe 2000 #1 (March 2000) depicts Metropolis and Gotham City as being somewhere in the Tri-state Area alongside Blüdhaven.
In Swamp Thing #53, Alan Moore wrote a fictional history for Gotham City that other writers have also followed. According to Moore's tale, a Norwegian mercenary, Captain Jon Logerquist, 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 (paralleling the Battle of Brooklyn in the American Revolution). This was detailed in Rick Veitch's Swamp Thing #85 featuring Tomahawk. Rumours held it to be the site of various occult rites.
The 2011 comic book series Batman: Gates of Gotham details a history of Gotham City in which Alan Wayne (Bruce Wayne's ancestor), Theodore Cobblepot (Oswald Cobblepot's ancestor), and Edward Elliot (Thomas Elliot's ancestor), are considered the founding fathers of Gotham. In 1881, they constructed three bridges called the Gates of Gotham, each bearing one of their last names. Edward Elliot became increasingly jealous of the Wayne family's popularity and wealth during this period, jealousy that would spread to his great-great-grandson, Thomas Elliot or Hush.
The occult origins of Gotham are further delved into by Peter Milligan's 1990 story arc "Dark Knight, Dark City", which reveals that some of the American Founding Fathers are involved in summoning a bat-demon which becomes trapped beneath old "Gotham Town", 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."
During the American Civil War, Gotham 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.
In contemporary times, Batman is considered the protector of Gotham, as he is fiercely protective of his home city. While other masked vigilantes also operate in Gotham City, they do so under Batman's approval since he is considered the best and most knowledgeable crime-fighter in the city.
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", the city's remaining residents forced to engage in gang warfare, either as active participants or paying for protection from groups ranging from the GCPD to the Penguin, just to stay alive. Eventually, Gotham was rebuilt and returned to the U.S. as part of a campaign mounted by Lex Luthor, who used the positive publicity of his role to make a successful bid for the position of President of the United States.
For a time, the city faces various complications from gang warfare and escalating vigilante actions, due to such events as Spoiler unintentionally triggering a gang war, the return of Jason Todd as the Red Hood, and Bruce Wayne's disappearance during the war against Darkseid. Although Dick Grayson takes on the role of Batman for a time, matters become worse when a complex conspiracy initiated by the Cluemaster results in multiple villains attacking all areas of Batman's life, ruining the reputation of Wayne Enterprises and seeing Commissioner Gordon framed for causing a mass train accident. After the destruction caused by the Joker's latest rampage, new villain Mr Bloom sets out to destroy the city so that a new form can "grow" from it, but Bruce Wayne returns as Batman in time to defeat Bloom and reaffirm his role as Batman.
Suggestions of other Gotham City histories include a founding date of 1820 seen in a city seal in Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders.
Batman writer and editor Dennis O'Neil has said that, figuratively, Batman's Gotham City is akin to "Manhattan below Fourteenth Street at eleven minutes past midnight on the coldest night in November." 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 City. "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." The statement "Metropolis is New York in the daytime; Gotham City is New York at night" has been variously attributed to comics creators Frank Miller and John Byrne.
In designing Batman: The Animated Series, creators Bruce Timm and Eric Radomski emulated the Tim Burton films' "otherworldly timelessness," incorporating period features such as black-and-white title cards, police airships (although no such thing existed, Timm has stated that he found it to fit the show's style), and a "vintage" colour scheme with film noir flourishes. Police airships have since been incorporated into Batman comic books and are a recurring element in Gotham City.
In the Batman comics, the person cited as an influential figure in promoting the unique architecture of Gotham City during the 19th century 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 centre of the city's financial district. The "Gotham Style" idea of the writers matches parts of the Gothic Revival in style and timing. In the storyline of Batman: Gothic, the Gotham Cathedral plays a central role for the story as it is built by Mr Whisper, the story's antagonist.
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. Alan Wayne expanded upon his father's ideas and built a bridge to expand the city. Edward Elliot and Theodore Cobblepot also each had a bridge named for them.
Christopher Nolan, who once lived in Chicago, effected a depiction of Gotham that featured distinct Chicago architecture. 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.
Gotham City University is a major college located in the city. In the DC Extended Universe, Victor Stone attended the University prior to turning into Cyborg.
Over the years, in various Bat titles in the chronological DC Comics continuity, the caped crusader enlists the help of numerous characters, the first being his trusty sidekick, Robin. Although a singular title, many have donned the mantle of the Boy Wonder over the years. The first being Nightwing, then came Red Hood, Red Robin (comics), and finally Batman's son Damian Wayne. In addition to the Robins or former Robins, there is also Catwoman, Batgirl, and Huntress (comics).
Other DC characters have also been depicted to be living in Gotham, such as mercenary Tommy Monaghan and renowned demonologist Jason Blood. 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.
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 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.
Gotham City Police Department
In other media
1989 Batman series
For Batman (1989), the look of Gotham was overseen by production designer Anton Furst, who won an Oscar for supervising the art department. Furst's draftsman Nigel Phelps created numerous charcoal drawings of the buildings and interior sets for the production. 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. Tim Burton's sequel, Batman Returns (1992), used more closed soundstages and miniatures for exterior shots, with open canopy street sets only appearing in the car chases and second gang riot halfway through the film. The only shots featuring on-location footage were shots of the Batmobile and Selina Kyle's car on a rural road leading toward Wayne Manor. Production designer Bo Welch wanted to expand on the same basic concept for the sequel, but moved away from European influences to show more American art deco/World's fair elements. Unlike the first film, illustrators Tim Flattery and Tom Lay created full-color acrylic paintings of the city and interiors.
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 Batman Forever (1995) and 1997's Batman & Robin Ling's vision of Gotham City was a luminous and outlandish evocation of Modern expressionism and Constructivism. Its futuristic-like concepts (to a certain extent, akin to the 1982 film Blade Runner) appeared to be sort of a cross between 1930's 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." When Batman is pursuing Two-Face in Batman Forever, the chase ends at Lady Gotham, the fictional equivalent of the Statue of Liberty. 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.
The Dark Knight Trilogy
Christopher Nolan has stated that Chicago is the basis of his portrayal of Gotham, and the majority of both Batman Begins (2005) and The Dark Knight (2008) were filmed there. However, the city itself seems to take many cues from New York City: police cars use a paint job that was used by the NYPD in the 1990s, and the same is applicable to garbage trucks, and the Gotham Post seems to have the same font heading as The New York Post.
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. 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 City, with elements taken from Chicago, the elevated freeways and monorails of Tokyo, and the "walled city of Kalhoon" [sic] in Hong Kong, which was the basis for the slum in the film known as The Narrows.
In The Dark Knight, Wayne Enterprises, previously depicted as the Chicago Board of Trade Building, was now the Richard J. Daley Center. As Wayne Manor was being reconstructed during the events of The Dark Knight, a digitally enhanced Hfront 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, Willis Tower, Navy Pier, the Randolph Street Metra Station, and 111 East Wacker Drive. 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. Compared to the previous film, less CGI was used in Gotham's skyline, resulting in plenty of shots of a digitally unaltered Chicago skyline.
For The Dark Knight Rises (2012), the production utilized Pittsburgh, Los Angeles, New York City, Newark, New Jersey, London and Glasgow for shots of Gotham City.  Locations in Pittsburgh included the Mellon Institute and Software Engineering Institute at Carnegie Mellon University, and Heinz Field, which is used as Gotham City's football stadium. 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. In Manhattan, One Liberty Plaza replaced the Richard J. Daley Center as the location for the headquarters of Wayne Enterprises. 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, and Newark City Hall was used as the Red Cross shelter inhabited by Bane's guerrilla army. An address by the president refers to Gotham City as "America's greatest city," combined with a map seen briefly onscreen, confirms that Gotham (which looks more like Manhattan than Chicago, the city that stood in for Gotham in the previous two films) is an analogue to New York City within the movie's universe. The overview image of "Gotham Island" seen when the bridges are being blown is an aerial view of Manhattan with three bridges digitally added in on the Hudson River side. A state trooper on the last remaining intact bridge into the city is shown to be part of the "Gotham State Police," and a Gotham State Police car is among the vehicles that participate in the car chase after Bane's attack on the Stock Exchange, suggesting that Gotham City is in the fictional US state of Gotham.
DC Extended Universe
Within the DC Extended Universe, Gotham City is located in Gotham County, New Jersey. In Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, paperwork mentions that the city is in "Gotham County", and Amanda Waller's files on Deadshot and Harley Quinn in Suicide Squad reveal Gotham City to be located in the state of New Jersey.
Zack Snyder confirmed that Metropolis and Gotham City are in close geographical proximity to each other, with Gotham City being located on the edge of the New Jersey, separated from the federal district of Metropolis by Delaware Bay. In Justice League it is revealed there is a tunnel connecting the two, constructed as part of the abandoned 'Metropolis Project' in 1929 to connect the two cities. There are multiple islands located in the bay also, with one of them being named Braxton Island. Senator Debbie Stabenow makes a cameo appearance in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice as the state's governor.
The Boston Globe compared the close proximity of Gotham and Metropolis to Jersey City, New Jersey and Manhattan, New York. A television spot for Turkish Airlines premiering during the 2016 Super Bowl featured Bruce Wayne (played by the film's star, Ben Affleck) promoting Gotham as a tourist destination.
During the events of the direct-to-video film, Batman & Mr. Freeze: SubZero (1998), 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. Batman Beyond (1999–2001) envisions a Gotham City in 2039, referred to as "Neo-Gotham".
The 2008 direct-to-DVD film Batman: Gotham Knight shows Gotham as a large city with many skyscrapers and a bustling population.
The 1960s live-action Batman television series never specified Gotham's location though there are hints it actually represents New York City, including a city map and its location across the 'West River' from 'Guernsey City' in 'New Guernsey'. Fictional residents Mayor Linseed (portrayed by Byron Keith) and Governor Stonefellow are also direct allusions to real-life Mayor John Lindsay and Governor Nelson Rockefeller. The related theatrical movie showed Batman to be flying over suburban Los Angeles, the Hollywood Hills, palm trees, a harbor, a beach and a view of the Los Angeles City Hall.
Gotham City is featured in Batman: The Animated Series. In the episode "Joker's Favor", a driver's license lists a Gotham area resident's hometown as "Gotham Estates, NY". In the episode "Avatar", when Bruce Wayne leaves for England, a map shows Gotham City, at the joining of Long Island and the Hudson River. The episode "Fire from Olympus" shows a character's address in a police file indicating that Gotham City is located in New York state. The episode "The Mechanic", however, implies that Gotham resides in a state of the same name; a prison workshop is shown stamping license plates that read "Gotham: The Dark Deco State" (as a reference to the artistic style of the series). The episode "Harlequinade" states that Gotham City has a population of approximately 10 million people.
The TV series Gotham films in New York City, and according to executive producer Danny Cannon, its atmosphere is inspired by the look of the city itself in the 1970s films of Sidney Lumet and William Friedkin. Clues to this include and signs showing phone numbers bearing the area code 212. Donal Logue, who portrays Harvey Bullock in the series Gotham, described different aspects of that series' design of Gotham City as exhibiting different sensibilities, explaining, "For me, you can step into things that almost feel like the roaring 20s, and then there's this other really kind of heavy Blade Runner vibe floating around. There are elements of it that are completely contemporary and there are pieces of it that are very old-fashioned...There were a couple of examples of modern technology, but maybe an antiquated version of it, that gave me a little bit of sense that it's certainly not the 50s and the 60s...But it's not high tech and it's not futuristic, by any means."
In the TV series Smallville, Gotham City is mentioned by the character Linda Lake in the episode "Hydro", who jokes she can see Gotham from her view. It is also mentioned in "Reunion", where one of Oliver Queen's friends mentions having to get back to Gotham.
In the CW series Supergirl, Gotham is mentioned by a civilian after Superman saves him and his family from John Corben, telling his wife and son they should move back to the city. Gotham and its vigilantes are referenced by Supergirl during a battle with Master Jailer.
It is also mentioned in Arrow, where in the same episode Oliver mentions Bruce Wayne by name.
For the TV series Batwoman, both Vancouver, British Columbia and Chicago, Illinois were used for Gotham City. In this show, the Crows have helped to defend it from crime ever since Batman went missing three years ago.
In the Black Lightning episode "The Book of Markovia: Chapter Two: Lynn's Addiction," it is revealed that A.S.A. agent Percy Odell is from Gotham City.
Gotham City appears in several video games, including Batman Begins, DC Universe Online, and Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe. The city makes another appearance in a video game with Injustice: Gods Among Us, where the player can fight in front of and inside of Wayne Manor, on top of a building and in an alley as well. Gotham also appears in Lego Dimensions, and it is a playable stage onBatman: Arkham universe
Batman: Arkham Asylum (2009) opens with Batman driving Joker from Gotham City to Arkham Asylum. Joker also threatens to detonate bombs across Gotham. In Batman: Arkham City (2011), the slums of Old Gotham City (the northern island) were converted into Arkham City. Inside the prison walls, this part of Gotham contains various landmarks throughout the story, like Penguin's Iceberg Lounge, the Ace Chemical Plant, the Sionis Steel Mill, the Old Gotham City Police Department building, and the Monarch Theatre with the Wayne murder scene in Crime Alley. Most of these locations have major events in the story. In Batman: Arkham Origins (2013), an earlier, younger version of the city can be seen than that of other games in the Batman: Arkham series. In addition to the northern island, this installment in the series lets players explore a new southern island, connected to the former by the Pioneer's Bridge. The setting of Batman: Arkham Knight (2015), Central Gotham City, is five times larger than Old Gotham.
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