Top 10 comic book cities: #6 Gotham City
From Radiant City to Mega City One, the Architects’ Journal presents a selection of the greatest illustrated urban spaces
Great name, eh? Want to know why it’s called that? Batman co-creator Bill Finger explains: ‘Originally I was going to call Gotham City “Civic City”. Then I tried Capital City, then Coast City. Then I flipped through the phone book and spotted the name “Gotham Jewellers” 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.’
So there you are…..anyway, usually it serves as a backdrop but in the ‘Destroyer’ story arc in DC’s Legends of the Dark Knight monthly comic, the architecture of Gotham City was a central character. Destroyer focused on a crazed architectural historian obsessed with reviving the work of Gotham town planner Cyrus Pinkey. Before Batman intervenes, most of Gotham’s contemporary glass and concrete skyscrapers which had obscured Pinky’s gothic extravagances, are destroyed by the ‘Mad Bomber’.
However, this story was actually a rather brazen piece of opportunistic ‘masterplanning’ by Batman’s editors who wanted the Gotham in the comic books to resemble the one in depicted in Tim Burton’s film – in order to attract new readers. In Destroyer, Pinky’s towers are a dead ringer for Anton Furst’s designs for the film (see Furst’s sketches in the slideshow above).
Recently, a similar ‘masterplan’ was enacted – an earthquake – which allowed Lex Luthor to develop a new ‘glass and steel’ skyline for Gotham. One, in fact, much like the Gotham seen in Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight film last year.