55 - A Tourist Map of Gotham

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:


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    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.

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    Washington Irving, author of ‘Sleepy Hollow’ fame, used it as a sobriquet for New York for the first time in his satire Salmagundi (1807).

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    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).

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  • 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.
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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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  • 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.
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gothammap.jpg 

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Here is some more information on some of the landmarks mentioned in this map: 

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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.

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2) Arkham Asylum: named in homage to H.P. Lovecraft’s horror stories, many of Batman’s foes are locked up here.

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3) Wayne Manor: also called Wayne Mansion, this is the estate of Bruce Wayne and the location of the Batcave.

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5) Brentwood Academy: a private high school once attended by Tim Drake, the third Robin.

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7) Old Gotham: the Gotham district more well-known for the location of Oracle’s Clock Tower and the GCPD headquarters.

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8 ) Robert Kane Memorial Bridge: named for Batman co-creator Bob Kane.

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9) Amusement Mile: an amusement park in Gotham, lined with ferriswheels, rollercoasters, and other attractions typical of a theme park.

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11) Robbinsville: named for artist Frank Robbins.

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12) Cape Carmine: named for artist Carmine Infantino.

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13) Sprang Bridge: named for artist Dick Sprang.

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14) Sprang River: also named for artist Dick Sprang.

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16) Aparo Park: named for artist Jim Aparo.

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25) Archie Goodwin International Airport: named for writer and editor Archie Goodwin.

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27) Dixon Dock: named for writer Chuck Dixon.

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29) Tricorner Yards: located on an island at the southwest corner of Gotham City.

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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.

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33) Finger River: Named for Batman co-creator Bill Finger.

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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.

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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.

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41) Blackgate Isle: Location of Blackgate Maximum Security Penitentiary, the city’s main prison.

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43) Grant Park: named for writer Alan Grant.

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47) Aparo Expressway: Named for artist Jim Aparo.

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53) R.H. Kane Building: named for Batman co-creator Bob Kane.

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A landslide is imminent and so is its tsunami

An open letter predicts that a massive wall of rock is about to plunge into Barry Arm Fjord in Alaska.

Image source: Christian Zimmerman/USGS/Big Think
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  • A remote area visited by tourists and cruises, and home to fishing villages, is about to be visited by a devastating tsunami.
  • A wall of rock exposed by a receding glacier is about crash into the waters below.
  • Glaciers hold such areas together — and when they're gone, bad stuff can be left behind.

The Barry Glacier gives its name to Alaska's Barry Arm Fjord, and a new open letter forecasts trouble ahead.

Thanks to global warming, the glacier has been retreating, so far removing two-thirds of its support for a steep mile-long slope, or scarp, containing perhaps 500 million cubic meters of material. (Think the Hoover Dam times several hundred.) The slope has been moving slowly since 1957, but scientists say it's become an avalanche waiting to happen, maybe within the next year, and likely within 20. When it does come crashing down into the fjord, it could set in motion a frightening tsunami overwhelming the fjord's normally peaceful waters .

"It could happen anytime, but the risk just goes way up as this glacier recedes," says hydrologist Anna Liljedahl of Woods Hole, one of the signatories to the letter.

The Barry Arm Fjord

Camping on the fjord's Black Sand Beach

Image source: Matt Zimmerman

The Barry Arm Fjord is a stretch of water between the Harriman Fjord and the Port Wills Fjord, located at the northwest corner of the well-known Prince William Sound. It's a beautiful area, home to a few hundred people supporting the local fishing industry, and it's also a popular destination for tourists — its Black Sand Beach is one of Alaska's most scenic — and cruise ships.

Not Alaska’s first watery rodeo, but likely the biggest

Image source: whrc.org

There have been at least two similar events in the state's recent history, though not on such a massive scale. On July 9, 1958, an earthquake nearby caused 40 million cubic yards of rock to suddenly slide 2,000 feet down into Lituya Bay, producing a tsunami whose peak waves reportedly reached 1,720 feet in height. By the time the wall of water reached the mouth of the bay, it was still 75 feet high. At Taan Fjord in 2015, a landslide caused a tsunami that crested at 600 feet. Both of these events thankfully occurred in sparsely populated areas, so few fatalities occurred.

The Barry Arm event will be larger than either of these by far.

"This is an enormous slope — the mass that could fail weighs over a billion tonnes," said geologist Dave Petley, speaking to Earther. "The internal structure of that rock mass, which will determine whether it collapses, is very complex. At the moment we don't know enough about it to be able to forecast its future behavior."

Outside of Alaska, on the west coast of Greenland, a landslide-produced tsunami towered 300 feet high, obliterating a fishing village in its path.

What the letter predicts for Barry Arm Fjord

Moving slowly at first...

Image source: whrc.org

"The effects would be especially severe near where the landslide enters the water at the head of Barry Arm. Additionally, areas of shallow water, or low-lying land near the shore, would be in danger even further from the source. A minor failure may not produce significant impacts beyond the inner parts of the fiord, while a complete failure could be destructive throughout Barry Arm, Harriman Fiord, and parts of Port Wells. Our initial results show complex impacts further from the landslide than Barry Arm, with over 30 foot waves in some distant bays, including Whittier."

The discovery of the impeding landslide began with an observation by the sister of geologist Hig Higman of Ground Truth, an organization in Seldovia, Alaska. Artist Valisa Higman was vacationing in the area and sent her brother some photos of worrying fractures she noticed in the slope, taken while she was on a boat cruising the fjord.

Higman confirmed his sister's hunch via available satellite imagery and, digging deeper, found that between 2009 and 2015 the slope had moved 600 feet downhill, leaving a prominent scar.

Ohio State's Chunli Dai unearthed a connection between the movement and the receding of the Barry Glacier. Comparison of the Barry Arm slope with other similar areas, combined with computer modeling of the possible resulting tsunamis, led to the publication of the group's letter.

While the full group of signatories from 14 organizations and institutions has only been working on the situation for a month, the implications were immediately clear. The signers include experts from Ohio State University, the University of Southern California, and the Anchorage and Fairbanks campuses of the University of Alaska.

Once informed of the open letter's contents, the Alaska's Department of Natural Resources immediately released a warning that "an increasingly likely landslide could generate a wave with devastating effects on fishermen and recreationalists."

How do you prepare for something like this?

Image source: whrc.org

The obvious question is what can be done to prepare for the landslide and tsunami? For one thing, there's more to understand about the upcoming event, and the researchers lay out their plan in the letter:

"To inform and refine hazard mitigation efforts, we would like to pursue several lines of investigation: Detect changes in the slope that might forewarn of a landslide, better understand what could trigger a landslide, and refine tsunami model projections. By mapping the landslide and nearby terrain, both above and below sea level, we can more accurately determine the basic physical dimensions of the landslide. This can be paired with GPS and seismic measurements made over time to see how the slope responds to changes in the glacier and to events like rainstorms and earthquakes. Field and satellite data can support near-real time hazard monitoring, while computer models of landslide and tsunami scenarios can help identify specific places that are most at risk."

In the letter, the authors reached out to those living in and visiting the area, asking, "What specific questions are most important to you?" and "What could be done to reduce the danger to people who want to visit or work in Barry Arm?" They also invited locals to let them know about any changes, including even small rock-falls and landslides.

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