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The origins of Gotham City are somewhat shrouded in mystery. Many millennia ago, an evil warlock was buried alive beneath what would one day become the central island of Gotham. It is alleged that while the warlock lay in a state of torpor, his evil essence seeped into the soil, poisoning the ground

Quote1 I'm not particularly fond of Gotham. It's like someone built a nightmare out of metal and stone. Quote2

Gotham City, or simply Gotham, is an American city rife with corruption and crime, the home of its iconic protector Batman.


Early History


The origins of Gotham City are somewhat shrouded in mystery. Many millennia ago, an evil warlock was buried alive beneath what would one day become the central island of Gotham. It is alleged that while the warlock lay in a state of torpor, his evil essence seeped into the soil, poisoning the ground with his dark, corrupt touch. By the warlock's own reasoning, he claims that he fathered the modern spirit of Gotham City and has even taken to calling himself Doctor Gotham.[1]

The territory surrounding Doctor Gotham's burial spot was also the home of an ancient Native American tribe known as the Miagani. The Miagani inhabited the Gotham islands several centuries before European explorers ever crossed the Atlantic. The Miagani tribe is no longer in existence, and there is much speculation as to their final fate. One posited theory suggests that a shaman named Blackfire came to them, proclaiming to be a holy messenger. Within short order, however, Blackfire took control of the Miagani and proved to be a cruel and evil tyrant. The Miagani chieftain, Chief Paleface, demanded that Blackfire leave the tribe. Unfortunately, the shaman would not be silenced, and he struck down Paleface with his staff, killing him. The other Miagani revolted against Blackfire. They shot him with their arrows and tied him to a pole to die. Blackfire didn't die though, so the Miagani sealed him inside of a cave. They erected a totem in front of the tomb as a warning sign of the evil that resided within. Some sources cite that Shaman Blackfire emerged from the cave and used his power to cause a blight across the land. As such, the Miagani had little choice but to abandon their homes in search of fertile ground. Two days into their journey, a rival tribe came upon them and slaughtered all of the Miagani. Some legends, however, say that it was actually Shaman Blackfire who murdered them.[2]

17th Century

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 Northeastern coastal region of what would one day become the United States.[3] 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 latter colony came upon the sealed cave with the Miagani totem erected before it. Unaware of its significance, they ignored the totem's warning and loosed Shaman Blackfire from the cave. The colonists were never seen again. Two days later, men from the coastal community traveled 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. A trapper claimed to have seen the image of a naked Indian walking from the woods to the settlement.[2]

In 1692, as part of a treaty, Anatol Orgham, a son of the noble family of Orgham, was made the landlord and administrator of the lands around Gotham. In 1701, Anatol died, and the deed passed to his children. However, the deed would be artfully ignored at various points, as other interests made fortunes in the “unclaimed” lands.[4]

18th Century

In 1776, the settlement had grown into a shepherding town known as Gathome. It was home to a number of prominent families, including the Wainrights, but had no church, atypical for a town of this size and age. Its outskirts were also home to a medicine woman by the name of Aiyanna. One evening, Tim and Moira Wainright were murdered in front of their son. The son fell into the care of Aldridge Pearce, a drifter who had fought alongside Tim Wainright.

Ichabod Craine, an itinerant preacher, used the tragedy as an excuse to further spread his word amongst the gathered townspeople before being rebuked by a prominent citizen, Garrett Jardin, for targeting Aiyanna as the subject of his hateful sermons. Craine retorted that the town was changing, and that his benefactor, Ethaniel Orgham, had arrived in town, bringing with him funding to build a Church for the town. Inspired by his preaching, a mob later attacked Aiyanna's home before being violently turned away by Pearce.

The Orghams and their conspirators had darker intentions than anyone knew; using the deaths of the Wainrights as a trigger, they intended to orchestrate a series of symbolic tragedies capped by the beheading of Jardin on the footsteps of the new church and the burial of a device known as a 'Reality Engine', setting a pattern for Gotham that would echo out into time. They would have succeeded, if not for the unexpected intervention of a mysterious stranger going by the name of Mordecai. This stranger turned Pearce, who intended to leave the town, back towards the city, giving him a bat-shaped cowl to hide his identity. Pearce, clothed as a bat, intervened, saving Jardin and thwarting the plans of the Orgham family. As a result of his interference in the intended pattern, the narrative ideal of the caped crusader garbed as Bat and born from tragedy echoed forward, and would eventually birth the Batman.[5]

19th Century

During the latter half of the 18th century and the early half of the 19th century, Gotham was a major port city known as Gotham Town. Beginning as early as 1799, Darius Wayne began construction on a family estate that would eventually become known as Wayne Manor.

On January 1st, 1800, the frontiersman known as Tomahawk became embroiled in a fight with a British spy named Lord Gerald 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 service modern age super-hero Batman as the Batcave.[6]

In 1840, Gotham underwent a major urban planning initiated by Judge Solomon Wayne and architect Cyrus Pinkney that laid the foundation of Gotham City.[7] Under Wayne's commission, Pinkney's design was meant to invoke a "bulwark against the godlessness of the wilds wherein we may nurture the gifts of Christian civilization and be protected from the savagery which lurks in untamed nature."[8] Pinkney saw his designs as an organic whole, almost a living being that would itself fight against evil. Gargoyles to frighten people onto the path of righteousness; rounded edges to confuse malevolent beings; thick walls to lock in virtue. It also had many elevated walkways, with some buildings connected to each other in such a way as they could not stand alone. Although vehemently criticized by Wayne's fellow Gothamites, the edifice pleased the judge and, in fact, was highly successful in that it attracted others to locate their ventures nearby - which in fact became the focal point for a thriving commercial center in Gotham's financial district. Together Wayne and Pinkney raised no fewer than a dozen other similar buildings. Pinkney's "Gotham Style" structure, for a time, was widely imitated, both in Gotham and elsewhere despite universal vilification in the architectural world.[9]

In 1895, the legend of Solomon Grundy was born when Gothamite Cyrus Gold, through varying accounts, came to his death in Slaughter Swamp that led to his transformation into the undead being who would emerge to the public fifty years later.

By the end of the century, Gotham City became a bustling hub of industry. However, it also became a haven for crime, known more for its poverty, the squalidness of its slums, and the utter corruption of its government than for commercial and cultural achievements.

20th Century

By the 1930s, crime and corruption had reached a significant height in Gotham in which it became immortally characterized as a dark foreboding metropolis. At the same time, however, Gotham became the home of two of the earliest super-heroes: the Golden Age Green Lantern and Black Canary. Eventually, the Justice Society of America would even make its headquarters in Gotham for a short while. However, no matter what good these forces managed to do, the city remained in the control of organized crime.

During the 1950s, 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. By the 1960s, Gotham City planners began an ambitious project called the Underground Highway. Beginning at Fourth Avenue, they began building an actual 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.[10]

Pre-Flashpoint Disasters

Crime in Gotham would continue to proliferate in the latter half of the century. This increase in criminal activity would provide Gotham to host its iconic superhero, Batman. Other vigilantes such as Robin, Batgirl, and the Huntress appeared in the years that followed, countering the increased evil with their presence. But with heroes, Gotham was also introduced to a number of outlandish, yet very dangerous super-villains such as the Joker, the Penguin, Two-Face, Poison Ivy, Riddler, and Scarecrow.

No Man's Land

 Main articles: Batman: Cataclysm and Batman: No Man's Land

Cataclysm 001

Gotham City devastated by the "Cataclysm"

Shortly following Ra's al Ghul's attempt to contaminate Gotham with a deadly virus, the city suffered a magnitude 7.6 earthquake in an event commonly referred to as the "Cataclysm". With hopes for rehabilitating the broken city, the United States government declared it a "No Man's Land," which effectively quarantined the entire island city. Eventually, thanks in no small part to the financial and political machinations of Lex Luthor — dipping his hands, as ever, in both legitimate and illegal means to achieve his goals — Gotham City was released and rebuilt, and rejoined the United States.

War Games

 Main article: Batman: War Games

Gotham later fell into a massive gang war between many of the city's major criminal groups following a botched contingency plan that Stephanie Brown implemented. The end results allowed the crime lord Black Mask to single-handedly rule over the city's organized crime until he was shot by Catwoman and a temporary police arrest warrant on vigilantes until being revoked by Police Commissioner James Gordon.

Battle for the Cowl

 Main article: Battle for the Cowl

Gotham was once again victim of chaos when Batman allegedly died. Criminals all over the city tried to claim their own territory while the heroes and vigilantes tried to keep the situation under control, with much more success than the GCPD. However, chaos and violence were rampant in Gotham in which the National Guard was forced to intervene and create a citywide curfew.

Post-Flashpoint Disasters

After the Flash went back in time and changed the timeline, history was drastically rewritten - practically rebooted. Though much of Gotham's prior history remained intact, changes were inevitably made.

Zero Year

Batman Vol 2 32 Textless Variant

Gotham's Zero Year

 Main article: Batman: Zero Year

One of Gotham's earliest disasters was during Batman's first year of operation - known retrospectively as the "Zero Year".

Batman encountered the Riddler, who sought to exploit his supposed superiority over Gotham by reverting it to a primal state, forcing its citizens to fight for survival. During a massive hurricane, the Riddler destroyed the city's entire power grid and covered Gotham with Dr. Pamela Isley's rapid plant growth serum, turning the city into a technologically-stunted jungle ruin that he could rule.

Due to some coordination between the new hero Batman and Jim Gordon, the Bat was able to depose Riddler from power and initiate plans to restore the city to its original condition.

War of Jokes and Riddles

 Main article: Batman: The War of Jokes and Riddles

Gotham would once again be torn apart during Batman's second year of operation in what would be known as "the War of Jokes and Riddles". The Joker lost his ability to laugh and, under the pretense of fighting for the right to kill Batman, the Riddler initiated a gang war with him to figure out the ultimate riddle of making him smile again. Each villain assembled an army of Batman's rogues and battled in the streets for control of the city.

For weeks the war waged on, with at least several dozen civilian casualties piling up on Batman's conscience. The city was torn apart by the territory acquisitions of either the Riddler or Joker.

In order to stop the bloodshed, Batman was forced to pick a side in order to focus his energy on one army instead of two. Batman chose the Riddler, and, with the aid of Kiteman, help the Riddler side infiltrate the Joker's compound to capture him. However, Batman double-crossed the Riddler and captured them all, finally ending the war.

Night of the Owls

 Main article: Batman: Night of the Owls

Gotham suffered heavy casualties during the Night of the Owls, when the mysterious group known as the Court of Owls unleashed their army of undead Talon assassins on the city to kill any city officials that opposed their rule. Though many were saved by Batman and his allies, a portion of the city's leaders were not so lucky. Many more high-ranking people would be lost when the Court seemingly killed themselves after the event was stopped.

Joker's Endgame

 Main article: Batman: Endgame

Gotham Post Endgame 001

Gotham, Post-Joker's Endgame

When the Joker returned to Gotham yet again, having decided to exploit Batman's secret identity and make one final attack on the hero now that he was empowered by Dionesium, he sent the city into chaos by Jokerizing most of the city's inhabitants. The city began to fall apart as Batman struggled to keep order and survive Joker's laughing zombie army.

After the final confrontation between Batman and the Joker left the two to perish in the caves beneath Gotham, Gotham was able to start recovering. Two weeks after the incident, Gotham continued to celebrate their fallen hero while infrastructure was repaired, and civilian injuries were mended.

Challengers Mountain

 Main article: Dark Nights: Metal

When the Bat-God Barbatos and his underlings The Dark Knights launched their attack on Prime Earth, the center stage of their invasion was Gotham City. The dark energies involved wiped out a huge portion of the city by erupting a giant mountain (Challenger's Mountain) into the city center, which subsequently served as a base for The Batman Who Laughs.

City of Bane

 Main article: City of Bane

When the supervillain Bane defeated Batman, he took over Gotham and ruled it ruthlessly. The city suffered great damage under his rule, with Wayne Enterprises participating in reconstruction after his defeat.

The Joker War

 Main article: The Joker War

After defeating Bane and taking back Gotham City, one of Joker's goons suggests revealing the identity of Batman to the world. Joker had plans to start his new recruit, her name is Punchline a former college student who is inspired by Joker's life of crime. Joker wants his men to in turn counter Batman's followers to tie in his war.

Points of Interest

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Map of Gotham


Parks and Recreational areas





Other Public locations



Other locales


Gotham City Earth One



Sports Teams






  • In the early Batman stories, his home base was established as New York City. Despite the information given in Batman #252, the name "Gotham City" was first used in Batman #4.
  • "Gotham" is one of the nicknames of New York City, and the city serves as an analog to it—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. Metropolis is Manhattan between Fourteenth and One Hundred and Tenth Streets on the brightest, sunniest July day of the year."[48] Neal Adams, in contrast, has long believed that Chicago, with its proliferation of mobsters in the 1940s, was the basis for Gotham, adding that the city, in contrast to New York, is full of alleys, "where Batman fights all the bad guys."[49]


  • In the Golden and Silver Age Gotham Cities, the rooftops were littered with bizarre gigantic props that were often used as staging places by villains, but by the 1970s they had all but been removed. In Arkham Asylum: Living Hell #3, it's revealed that Humpty Dumpty is responsible for this, as he once accidentally set off a chain reaction causing all of the props to be knocked down off of their rooftops, like a chain of dominoes. This caused the Senate to actually place a ban against giant unnecessary props, referred to as the "Sprang" Act.
  • In the parallel universe of Earth-S, Gotham City is the home base of Mister Scarlet.[50]

See Also