History of New York

The Origins of NYC’s Gotham Nickname

September 27, 2019 by Sami Boutaleb
Batman Sky Light New York City

Legend has it that Manhattan was purchased from the Native Americans for $24 worth of jewelry. Now the city is nearly four centuries old and houses an approximate population of 8.5 million people according to 2017 estimates. NYC was discovered by the Dutch in 1624 when they arrived in Manhattan. Only two years later, it was renamed New Amsterdam. By 1664, the British seized control of the territory and renamed it New York.

New York City enjoys a host of nicknames, from “Big Apple” to “The City That Never Sleeps” and simply “The City”. A lot of people also believe that Gotham is also an important nickname, the truth tells otherwise. NYC draws its origins from the year 1624 when the Dutch arrived in Manhattan. Only two years later, it was renamed New Amsterdam. It didn’t take long for the British to seize control of the territory and rename it New York.

Gotham translates to “Goat’s Town”

The term Gotham draws its inspiration from a joke directed at New Yorkers. The joke originated in 19th century author Washington Irving’s works.
Gotham translates to “Goat’s Town” in the old Anglo-Saxon language. Goats were viewed as dull and stupid and it was believed that New Yorkers, Dutch people living under British rule at the time, faked being stupid to ward off the unwelcome British colonizers.

Batman or Washington Irving?

It has been long believed that the nickname originated from the popular film and comic book series “Batman”.  The author, Bill Finger, reportedly drew the idea to name the city where Batman lived Gotham from flipping through an NYC phone registry that listed a business named ‘Gotham Jewelers’. It was decided that Batman would live in a city called Gotham and not Manhattan to add to the mystery of the story.

In the end, no one city can claim the famous Gotham nickname, as the movie has been filmed in cities ranging from London to Chicago. I firmly believe that Gotham closely resembles the financial district in Manhattan called Wall Street, and the estate where Batman resides with his butler can easily be Westchester, Connecticut or the Hamptons.