Most people know that Batman lives in Gotham City, and that this fictional place is a barely disguised version of New York City – so much so that in real life, NYC is sometimes nicknamed Gotham. Here’s a few lesser known facts about Batman’s home town:
The place-name ‘Gotham’ has an interesting pedigree. It was used as early as the 15th century to refer to places with foolish inhabitants – a direct reference to the eponymous town in Nottinghamshire, England.
Washington Irving, author of ‘Sleepy Hollow’ fame, used it as a sobriquet for New York for the first time in his satire Salmagundi (1807).
Prior to 1941, Batman’s home (in the DC Comics) was New York City; he didn’t move to Gotham until DC Comics #48 (in February 1941).
- Gotham is modeled after NYC in architecture and atmosphere – although the dark, brooding aspects of New York are emphasized and exaggerated. It is said to resemble “Manhattan below 14th Street at 11 minutes past midnight on the coldest night in November”, although in the comics, Gotham and NYC do exist separately from each other.
Alan Moore and others have produced an elaborate back story for Gotham. It was founded by a Swedish mercenary in 1635, later taken over by the British and the site of a major battle during the Revolutionary War. Rumor has it Gotham is home to many occult beings and sects.
In the pre-Civil War era, Judge Solomon Wayne – an ancestor of Bruce Wayne – commissioned many buildings in the Gothic Revival style, the dominant architectural style of the city.
Being a fictional place, written about by a plethora of different writers, it’s perhaps inevitable that there’s confusion about its precise location (and subdivision). The city has been situated at the shores of ‘Lake Gotham’ but is more usually placed somewhere on the Eastern Seaboard of the US – in varying degrees of proximity to Metropolis, Superman’s home town.
- Several actual maps of Gotham exist, some based on Manhattan, Vancouver or the Rhode Island shoreline. This map of Gotham City was produced by Eliot R. Brown for Gotham City Secret File and Origins #1. It’s considered quite ‘definitive’, and is taken from the No Man’s Land story arc.
Here is some more information on some of the landmarks mentioned in this map:
1) Crime Alley: formally Park Row, this small side street in the East End is a dangerous, crime-infested area. Joe Chill killed Bruce Wayne’s parents here in front of his very eyes. 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.
2) Arkham Asylum: named in homage to H.P. Lovecraft’s horror stories, many of Batman’s foes are locked up here.
3) Wayne Manor: also called Wayne Mansion, this is the estate of Bruce Wayne and the location of the Batcave.
5) Brentwood Academy: a private high school once attended by Tim Drake, the third Robin.
7) Old Gotham: the Gotham district more well-known for the location of Oracle’s Clock Tower and the GCPD headquarters.
8 ) Robert Kane Memorial Bridge: named for Batman co-creator Bob Kane.
9) Amusement Mile: an amusement park in Gotham, lined with ferriswheels, rollercoasters, and other attractions typical of a theme park.
11) Robbinsville: named for artist Frank Robbins.
12) Cape Carmine: named for artist Carmine Infantino.
13) Sprang Bridge: named for artist Dick Sprang.
14) Sprang River: also named for artist Dick Sprang.
16) Aparo Park: named for artist Jim Aparo.
25) Archie Goodwin International Airport: named for writer and editor Archie Goodwin.
27) Dixon Dock: named for writer Chuck Dixon.
29) Tricorner Yards: located on an island at the southwest corner of Gotham City.
30) 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.
33) Finger River: Named for Batman co-creator Bill Finger.
38) The Clocktower: A tower in central Gotham which at one time contained the secret headquarters of Barbara Gordon, for her activities as Oracle. The “War Games” storyline shows the destruction of the Clocktower.
39) Wayne Tower: 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.
41) Blackgate Isle: Location of Blackgate Maximum Security Penitentiary, the city’s main prison.
43) Grant Park: named for writer Alan Grant.
47) Aparo Expressway: Named for artist Jim Aparo.
53) R.H. Kane Building: named for Batman co-creator Bob Kane.