The New York City-Gotham City Connection

Long before Batman first appeared in a comic book in 1939, New Yorkers were calling their city Gotham—thanks to Washington Irving, who came up with the moniker in 1807.

gothamcity Gotham is the name of a British village where, legend has it, residents were “wise enough to play the fool.” It was kind of backhanded compliment from Irving regarding how cunning New Yorkers were, even in the 19th century.


Just as Gotham, England was the inspiration for New York’s nickname, New York inspired Gotham City. Batman’s hometown is supposedly based on Manhattan below 14th Street.

In this still from the 1989 Batman movie, Gotham City’s skyline looks awfully similar to ours.


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9 Responses to “The New York City-Gotham City Connection”

  1. Cully Says:

    Compare the maps as well:

    Gotham Map

    An island city, bridges and tunnels, a centrally located large park and reservoir, etc. etc. There’s been tons of debate amongst the nerdy set as to whether Gotham is NY or Chicago, and which one Superman’s Metropolis is supposed to represent. It’s been placed in several places along the Eastern seaboard over the years, from DC to Boston to Rhode Island, but it definitely has an NYC flavor.

  2. wildnewyork Says:

    So Batman actually did live in New York City until 1942, when it was changed to Gotham City? Very cool info. And that is some Gotham City map!

  3. Bowery Boogie Says:

    Very cool. I always wondered the history of that term. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Harmonbond Says:

    For as long as I can remember, Gotham was universally understood as a mythical version of New York. Any association with Chicago is the usual wannabe spin from second-city-ites.

  5. badguy Says:

    So how am i supposed to understand that? Did batman live in NY(just in the movie or comic books called gotham city to sound better) or in totally different imaginary city Gotham which doesn’t really exist?

  6. pioneer10 Says:

    Did anyone notice that in the 1989 version(set in the future), WTC 1&2 are nowhere to be seen?

  7. Rat boy Says:

    Well if a city’s nickname is gotham and then someone calls their comics city “gotham”, then gotham must be nyc…. Chicago is always asking for attention…

  8. Nabe News - Bowery Boogie | A Lower East Side Chronicle Says:

    […] Etymology of Gotham as it refers to Manhattan. Washington Irving coined it in 1807, long before Batman [Ephemeral NY] […]

  9. The Spring Street station and a superhero logo | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] wouldn’t be the first time New York City inspired a superhero’s creators. Batman’s Gotham City sure appears to bear a big resemblance to our […]

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