Gotham City was once described by Batman writer Dennis O’Neil as “Manhattan below Fourteenth Street at eleven minutes past midnight on the coldest night in November.” Not the best slogan to stick on a travel brochure, but definitely a great, memorable line. We’ve seen Gotham go through many highs and lows, but from the beginning until now, it’s always been cold, grim, and foreboding, with dilapidated buildings that seem on the brink of collapse, rampant corruption, and pollution on every corner. That’s bad enough, but when you consider that the city also has serial killers that break out of Arkham Asylum over and over again to kill dozens of innocents, poison the fish, or freeze the museums, it really raises an obvious question: Why the hell do people still live there?
Other than storytelling necessities — due to the fact that Batman comics would get pretty dull if everyone in Gotham moved to the sunny skyscrapers of Metropolis — we here at Screen Rant believe that there must be a reason that Gotham still claims a population of 10 million people, and we decided to find out. So if you’re thinking about moving and want to take a second look at a place that sometimes gets stereotyped as Hell on Earth, here are 15 Reasons To Live In Gotham City.
15. Gotham City Has a Rich History
Every city has a background story, but not many have the dark, fascinating, and twisted history of Gotham. One of the oldest cities in the United States, Gotham was founded by the Norwegian mercenary Jon Logerquist in 1635, and served as the location of a major Revolutionary War battle. Gotham’s dark and occult roots, however, began many thousands of years before, when a warlock was buried alive beneath Gotham’s grounds. The legends say that the dark shroud which has always hung over the city is caused by this black magic toxifying the city from below.
Needless to say, Gotham’s twisted, macabre history makes the legends of every other town just seem boring in comparison. Alligators in the sewers? Pfft. Gotham not only has way crazier legends about a zombie named Solomon Grundy, a man that rose alive from the depths of Slaughter Swamp, but these legends are real.
As if this wasn’t crazy enough, Gotham even has its own Illuminati, a secret society known as the Court of Owls. Comprised of many members from Gotham’s wealthiest, most established families, the Court of Owls have controlled many of Gotham City’s operations since Colonial times, their existence seen by most of the city as little more than the subject of rather scary nursery rhymes. This fact is made only eerier by the fact that the Owls have also been kidnapping children since that time, and transforming them into their personal assassins, known as Talons. Okay, maybe that last bit of trivia won’t inspire anyone to raise a family in Gotham, but let’s keep going.
14. Gotham’s Police Have Cleaned Up Their Act
Back when Batman first appeared on the scene in Year One, the GCPD was probably among the most corrupt police departments in the country. Under the shady auspices of Commissioner Gillian Loeb and employing such nasty characters as Detective Flass, Gotham’s police department was deeply involved with the city’s organized crime scene. Deeply connected to both white collar and blue collar crime, the cops became so involved in such criminal activities as drug trafficking, gang violence, and murder, that the people of Gotham had no one to call for help. It’s no wonder that Gotham was in such a terrible place when Bruce Wayne first returned from his overseas travels.
But now? Thanks to the hard work of Batman and Commissioner James Gordon, the GCPD has been reorganized, patched up, and most of the crooked cops have been kicked to the curb. You couldn’t have a more dedicated, devoted, and practical police commissioner than Gordon, and with him at the top of the chain, the GCPD has been transformed. Though the police department at one point did start to slide back into corruption when Gordon retired and was replaced by Commissioner Michael Akins, Gordon has since returned to his old position and righted the ship.
13. A Booming Job Market
The sad, but true reality of the situation is that nurses and lawyers can easily get work in Gotham, due to the higher crime rate. More people getting hurt by acid flowers, crocodile-skinned thugs, and fear gas outbreaks means more work for the healthcare industry, and it also means that there are plenty of lawyers around to help the average Gotham citizen sue whoever hurt them, or whichever shady company allowed it to occur.
For the everyday working class Gotham resident, the job market holds a wealth of opportunities. Warehouses seem to appear in every other Batman comic, and lots of warehouses means lots of employment opportunities, admittedly from managers a touch on the shady side. Gotham has many, many factory jobs at such places like Ace Chemicals. The deluge of wacky patients coming in and out of Arkham Asylum also opens the gates to a lot of job opportunities, though there’s probably a high turnover rate. Either way, jobs abound in Gotham, and even if they’re on the lower end of the payscale, it doesn’t matter, because…
12. Gotham Has Crazy-Super-Cheap Rent
If there’s a “gotham.craigslist” out there, it’s probably overflowing with cheap apartments for rent. If you’ve already been living in Gotham, you’ve probably been saving bucket loads of money, considering your crappy little apartment in the Narrows has been rent controlled for the last 10 years.
Why? Because Gotham got totally devastated by a 7.6 earthquake a few years ago, at which point it was evacuated. Shortly afterward, things got so bad that, for anyone who elected to stay with their hometown during the evacuation, the federal government cut off the entire city from the rest of the country, declaring Gotham a “no-man’s land.” All bridges to Gotham were blown off and troops were stationed outside the city, not allowing anyone to enter or exit. Though public pressure eventually forced the government to rejoin Gotham to the United States, a lot of damage was done. Gotham’s reputation was dragged through the mud. Nobody wanted to live there.
And you know what that means: cheap real estate. Considering that Gotham probably has a higher rate of shootings, muggings, and so on than most other places, rent was probably already cheap beforehand. But when you combine that with the fact that the city got so wrecked by an earthquake that the US government cut it off, you can bet your bottom dollar that rents are probably some of the most affordable in any big city around, and may even be cheaper than rural areas.
11. People Can’t Afford to Move
This brings us to our next point, in regard to why people still live in Gotham: they don’t have the money and resources to get out. While there certainly is a lot of Gotham hometown pride to go around, since you don’t grow up in a tough city like Gotham without the city earning some of your respect, the socioeconomic factors at work here make it very difficult for a working class Gotham resident, particularly one who has lived there all of their life, to find a way out.
If you’re a starving mother on welfare, paying the bills for a father with Alzheimer’s, working long hours at Arkham Asylum, trying to take care of your three kids with no help from your good-for-nothing ex-husband who landed in jail after he spent a little too long in Two-Face’s gang, then it’s going to be hard to leave the cheap rent of Gotham City behind and move to greener pastures, even if your next-door neighbors are working for the Clock King. Though Gotham has plenty of jobs, wages are probably on the low side, and if you and your family have spent your entire life in a city with such a dire outlook, you might have some trouble getting out.
10. Gotham is the Land of Billionaires
The dreaded 1% live large in Gotham, while they take advantage of the lower classes and hold enormous influence over the city’s politics. The Waynes, of course, are one of the city’s oldest, most wealthy families, and even in the generations before Bruce, they had a profound influence on the city’s history, architecture, and more. Today, Bruce Wayne is Gotham’s resident billionaire playboy, known for his irresponsible antics. Consider, for a moment, that this means that Bruce is basically the Paris Hilton of Gotham, and it’s easy to see why no one suspects that he spends his nights dressed up in a bat costume.
But Wayne is hardly alone on the billionaire scene. Over many generations, Gotham has always had five powerful families to claim as its own, including the Waynes, all of which have continued to yield tremendous power over the city’s assets. These families include the Crownes, the Kanes, the Elliots, and the Dumases. This is problematic, in many ways — a handful of families holding the keys to an entire city tends to result in things like macabre organizations that name themselves after owls, as mentioned earlier — but if you’re a billionaire, the owner of a major corporation, or in a position of power, Gotham is an ideal place to set up your business.
Alternatively, you have Gotham celebrities like J. Pauline Spaghetti, who managed to strike a fortune just by selling noodles. If you’ve got some start up money and want to strike it rich, Gotham may be the place for you. A city still emerging from corruption and disaster, Gotham-based businesses will have fewer regulations to worry about, the aforementioned advantage of cheap real estate, and they can keep wages low. Criminal businesses probably succeed more than ethical ones, unfortunately.
9. Gotham Has a Thriving Art Scene
Okay, okay, those last few ones are more depressing than uplifting, even if they do explain why poorer people stay in Gotham, even if they don’t want to. However, here’s some better news that everyone can agree with: the art scene in Gotham is awesome.
When cities become so successful that young, struggling artists can’t afford to live there, it means that the art scene tends to decline. This has probably happened in the high-tech “City of Tomorrow” known as Metropolis. But Gotham, with its low prices, unique architecture, and dark beauty, is the perfect place for young artists to find inspiration and afford to live on their passions. Gotham here is like Detroit, another city often stereotyped as a post-industrial wasteland but quickly becoming the hotspot of a thriving art scene.
Gotham’s appreciation for the arts is not a new thing, though. In addition to the giant props that used to adorn so many of Gotham’s rooftops, Gotham hosts an enormous variety of fantastic museums. The Flugelheim Museum has Rembrandt originals, and the city also contains Madame Soleil’s Wax Museum, the Gotham Art Museum, the Gotham Museum of Antiquities, the Gotham City Museum, the Riverside museum, and a wide variety of bizarre museums featuring such oddities as giant clocks and life-size dinosaurs.
8. The Sciences Thrive in Gotham As Well
Gotham itself is synonymous with Wayne Enterprises — owned by Bruce Wayne but largely run by Lucius Fox — a corporation that primarily functions as a military defense contractor, but also includes divisions devoted to such diverse sciences as scientific research, botanical studies, biotech, energy, pharmaceuticals, and medical technologies. Between all of these, there’s plenty of room for newly graduated scientists to make a name for themselves.
When it comes to the sciences, Wayne Enterprises is certainly the biggest game in town, but it’s not the only one. Gotham also houses an extension of Harrison Wells’s research company S.T.A.R. Labs. Ferris Boyle is the CEO of GothCorp, a conglomerate that actually rivals Wayne Enterprises, though its research department accidentally led to the creation of Mr. Freeze (it’s comic books: every corporation creates at least one supervillain). Also based out of Gotham is Stagg Enterprises, a corporation responsible for brilliant new inventions in the fields of genetic engineering and chemistry. Say what you will about Gotham and its corrupt billionaires, but they certainly do employ a lot of scientists, even if some of them do end up turning into living ice-men and man-sized bats.
7. There’s a University
For college kids still trying to find the right school, look no further than the prestigious Gotham State University, or simply Gotham University, founded back in 1898. GU is one of the leading academic institutions in the country, and it’s home to several remarkable students, including the Blue Beetle Jamie Reyes, Stephanie Brown, and Jesse Chambers. Exceptional graduates include Harleen Quinzel and Jonathon Crane, both of who went on to become highly successful psychologists before their work took them to, well… darker places, namely the local asylum.
In any case, Gotham University contains its own art museum, once again reminding us of how much Gotham loves its art. The University’s biggest sport is football, and their team is the Gotham University Nighthawks, which at one point had a student named Michael Lane as a linebacker, years before he went on to become Azrael.
6. There’s a Great Night Life
Gotham’s night life has been rockin’ since 1966, when Batman surprised the world by walking into the What A Way To Go-Go nightclub, ordering an orange juice, and then singlehandedly creating an entirely new dance move which was from then on known as “the Batusi.”
In today’s Gotham, the swankiest place to be is the Iceberg Lounge, a nightclub that features impossibly cool decor, an artificial lake with an iceberg in it, and live seals. Unfortunately, this Gotham must-see is run by unethical businessman Oswald Cobblepot, better known as the Penguin, which means that any drinks you order are probably contributing to his criminal operations.
For those who want an even shadier sort of dive bar, which probably has the most exciting nightly events but, on a bad night, might land you in front of the Joker’s “BANG!” gun, there’s The Stacked Deck, the place where many of Batman’s villains congregate. We wouldn’t recommend it, unless you’re wanting to join them in their insanity, but it’s up to you.
5. Gotham Has Some Amazing Architecture
No matter which version of Gotham you’re living in, whether it’s Tim Burton’s version, the timeless Art Deco Gotham of the Animated Series, or the Gotham depicted in the Arkham games, you’ll definitely have some cool buildings to look at. Gotham City is one of the most uniquely designed cities in America, possessing a stark look just as gothic as its name.
Much of this is due to the city planning of architect Cyrus Pinkney and Judge Solomon Wayne in 1840, who together envisioned a Gotham that would inwardly nurture Christian civilization while guarding against the world outside, with gargoyles, thick walls, and elevated walkways constructed organically between buildings. While many of these bizarre works of architecture were later obscured and hidden by more modern buildings, they were brought to light again when a mad bomber who possessed a passion for Pinkney’s artwork toppled the newer structures, so that the old city could be revealed again.
4. It’s Arguably Safer Than Metropolis
Hear us out. Yes, Metropolis has Superman flying around between its skyscrapers. Yes, a cataclysmic event like the No Man’s Land earthquake is a tough deal for any city to handle, and yes, living in Gotham means living with the very real possibility of stumbling across any number of brightly-costumed criminals. But the majority of those criminals, no matter how dangerous they are, are still human. That’s the key here. Bad buys like the Riddler, Scarecrow, Two-Face, and Harley Quinn are career criminals who tend to have relatively smalltime operations, and many of the fatalities they inflict are upon members of competing criminal gangs.
Metropolis, on the other hand, might seem bright and shiny, but this hides a dark secret. Because while Gotham has career criminals in costumes, Metropolis regularly gets invaded by aliens, spiky monsters, giant robots, and worse. The frequency of city-level threats that face Metropolis on a daily basis are far more threatening to the average citizen than the Riddler could ever be. In Gotham, your neighbor might get shot. In Metropolis, your neighborhood might get wiped off the face of the map by some weird extraterrestrial laser beam.
Let’s not even get into Coast City, the Green Lantern’s hometown, where the entire city of seven million people were singlehandedly murdered by the alien overlord known as Mongul. Sure, the Joker might be one crazy dude, but we’ll take his schemes over total citywide destruction.
3. It’s A Safe Haven for Bats
Bats aren’t the most cuddly creatures around, but they’re far from the “flying rodents” the Dark Knight’s adversaries would have you think they are, and in the last few years they’ve been having a rough time of it. In the United States today, over 6.7 million bats are estimated to have perished from white noise syndrome. This sad disease has become an epidemic among the bat population, with eleven species of bat having been infected, including three whom are now endangered. Bats are an important contributor to the environment, as they eat mosquitos and pollinate plants, and their extinction is becoming a very real risk.
Luckily, there are ways than we can help, such as by providing homes for bats, learning more about white nose syndrome, and teaching others. More information can be found here on WhiteNoseSyndrome.org.
This is a real world issue. In the fictitious world of Gotham, it appears that Batman has helped to save thousands of bats, considering how many of them fly around safely in the protection of his underground cave. Hopefully, if the spread of white nose syndrome can be stopped, the real world can, in this regard, start to resemble Gotham a bit more.
2. At Least It’s Better Than Blüdhaven
Come on, the name says it all. Gotham City might sound a tad… gothic, but Gotham’s sister city (in the comics anyway) of Blüdhaven has a name that has probably scared away many a motorist who saw it on an interstate sign. Seriously, the town’s name is Blood Haven. You can’t get much grittier than that.
While Blüdhaven did have the protection of Nightwing, aka Richard Grayson — who is certainly a lot more mentally stable than many other vigilantes out there — it’s widely regarded as being a far worse place to live in every respect. A former whaling town, the mostly poor and struggling Blüdhaven has always paled in comparison to the far more successful Gotham, with citizens that struggle to pay their bills and a crime rate that makes Gotham look like a utopia.
Furthermore, the entire city got destroyed by toxic chemicals some time back, so hopefully you didn’t know anyone living there, because if you did, they’re gone. Clearly, Gotham is a far better place to be.
1. Batman Lives There
Finally, the most important reason to live in Gotham is the simple fact that it would allow you to share the same home as the Dark Knight. How awesome is that? When Batman is a resident of the city you call home, the same city that delivers your mail and picks up your trash, and when that same city’s police department actually shines a bat signal into the clouds whenever they need him, how can any other locale possibly compare? That’s why nobody wants to move away from Gotham — because they have Batman as a neighbor.
Bruce Wayne is obviously a smart guy, and he’s earned our trust. Both as Batman and as Bruce, he’s spent the majority of his life fighting to make Gotham a better place. By living in Gotham, bringing a little more positivity into a city that’s desperately in need of it, you’re contributing to Batman’s cause. On top of that, Gotham is also the home to many other heroes, such as Robin, Batgirl, and the Huntress. There might still be crime, but with these guys around to fight it, you have a better chance of staying safe than you would in any normal city.
So seriously, next time you’re figuring out which place you want to live, give Gotham City a second look. In the immortal words of R. Kelly, “We all need a Gotham City.”
Would you ever dare to take up residence in the Caped Crusader’s stomping grounds? Let us know in the comments section.