New York is a city of nicknames—the Big Apple, The City That Never Sleeps, Empire City, The City So Nice They Named It Twice... but let’s just concentrate on one: Gotham. 

The word “Gotham” actually dates back to medieval England. NYPL – New York Public Libra has some of these resources, including an 1866 reprint of The Merry Tales of the Mad Men of Gottam. Gathered Together by A.B. of Phisicke, Doctor, 1630. There is also a digitized version available on-site at the library and a Google Book version. English proverbs tell of a village called Gotham or Gottam, meaning “Goat’s Town” in old Anglo-Saxon. 

GOAT'S TOWN

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For some, the term Gotham City is forever tied to the Batman comic universe.  But writer Bill Finger was inspired by an entry in a telephone book for Gotham Jewelers.  Finger explains in the Steranko History of Comics that changing the locale from Manhattan to the fictional Gotham City made the setting of Batman more vague.  In fact, the nickname goes a lot further back than 1940, when in Batman issue number four, Gotham City is named for the first time.


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It’s without doubt that New Yorkers have indeed embraced the nickname, Gotham. It no longer invokes a foolish village of goat herders, and sometimes invokes the darkened noirish version as popularized through Batman, but it can be referencing New York in several ways.
— Carman Nigro, Coordinator of Research Services for Maps, Local History and Genealogy at The New York Public Library (NYPL)

From the Gotham typeface font to the Gotham Center of New York History and all of the businesses with Gotham in their names in between, the moniker remains a permanent part of New York City’s character.  


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