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DC Comics Gotham City Map Story

The Story Behind DC Comics’ Famous Gotham City Map

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Map of DC Comic's Gotham City Home of Batman and Arkham Asylum

Gotham City Map

DC Comics’ Gotham City map was generally designed for the time in and around the “No Man’s Land” or “Cataclysm” series. Unofficially known as “Escape From Gotham City” after the John Carpenter cult fave movie, “Escape From New York.”

Batman’s Gotham City is hit by an earthquake! Much of Gotham City is in ruins including Batman’s Bat Cave! The fate of Batman and Robin is unknown… The worst criminals, low-lives, thieves, punks and suddenly-released Arkham Asylum inmates are on the loose.

What do you do?

That’s where my part of the story starts. In late 1998, I got a call from Denny O’Neill, legendary comic writer, creator and then Group Editor of Batman at DC Comics. I scuttled into town; when Denny calls I respond.

A map of Gotham City was needed to show an indeterminate version of the situation. Basically all of Gotham City was to be an island — similar to, but not very much like Manhattan and the other four boroughs. (For those of you who read from afar, New York City as a title refers to the five boroughs. Boroughs are almost like small towns, in New York’s case very much with their own character and legends. Manhattan, The Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island. For this new, more specific version of Gotham, elements of all five boroughs would be coalesced into Batman’s stomping grounds. I would, of course, lean heavily on my intimate knowledge of Manhattan Island, where I grew up and resided for a long time.)

So, Batman’s Gotham City was to be an island. This was so the federal government could dynamite the bridges and tunnels so as to cut off the island from the mainland. This would keep the lid on the pressure cooker of this huge criminals’ playground, forcing drama, ethos and pathos (and that other Musketeer I can never remember…) brought on by the remaining innocent citizens trying to survive. The feds just walled off this ‘no man’s land’ from the rest of America. Sounds a little extreme, but who am I to think it daffy? Made for an interesting enough run of stories. So all these criminals, many super-criminals, only whatever police crazy enough to stay behind and no National Guard, nobody in charge… just lots of bad guys —

Did I mention without Batman? Or Robin? For several issues?

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Okay — I was ushered into a middling-sized conference room at the DC Comics’ editorial offices and all the editors filed in.