A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from March 29, 2008
“Metropolis is New York by day; Gotham City is New York by night”

Both Superman’s Metropolis and Batman’s Gotham City are said by some to be comic book representations of New York City, but the visions of both comics are very different. “Metropolis is New York by day; Gotham City is New York by night” is a statement that has been attributed to both comic book writers Frank Miller and John Byrne.

Batman writer and editor Dennis O’Neil put it this way (although this exact quotation varies in several versions): “Gotham is Manhattan below Fourteenth Street at 3 a.m., November 28 in a cold year. Metropolis is Manhattan between Fourteenth and One Hundred and Tenth Streets on the brightest, sunniest July day of the year.”


Wikipedia: Metropolis (comics)
Metropolis is a fictional city that appears in comic books published by DC Comics, and is the home of Superman. Metropolis first appeared by name in Action Comics #16, in 1939.

Metropolis is depicted as a major US city on the country’s East Coast. The city is known for being one of the largest and wealthiest cities on earth. The co-creator and original artist of Superman, Joe Shuster, modeled the Metropolis skyline after Toronto, where he was born and lived until he was ten. Since then, Metropolis has become a city inspired by New York City.

Location
Like many of DC’s other fictional cities, the location of Metropolis has varied greatly over the years. Metropolis, however, is usually portrayed as a major city on the East Coast of the United States.

It has been said that, metaphorically, Metropolis is New York during the day, and Gotham City (home to Batman) is New York at night. This comparison is usually attributed to Frank Miller and is helped by the fact that Batman’s adventures are more often nocturnal than those of Superman; hence the “bat” symbolism. (Gotham is an old nickname for New York City, popularized by Washington Irving.) In terms of atmosphere, Batman writer and editor Dennis O’Neil has said that, figuratively, “Batman’s Gotham City is Manhattan below Fourteenth Street at eleven minutes past midnight on the coldest night in November.” [O’Neil, Dennis. Afterword. Batman: Knightfall, A Novel. New York: Bantam Books, 1994. 344.] However, New York City does exist as a separate city from Metropolis and Gotham City within the DC Comics universe; the Justice Society of America, for example, is based in New York as was the Teen Titans.

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From: (Kenton Campbell)
Date: 14 Mar 90 04:41:11 GMT
Local: Wed, Mar 14 1990 12:41 am
Subject: Gotham City/Metropolis/etc.

The problem with this whole discussion about the locations of the fictional DC cities is that there is rarely one right answer. “Metropolis is NYC by day, Gotham City is NYC by night” is a good description of the two, but there are more than enough references to place them just about anywhere along the northern half of the east coast, if not somewhere inland.  From as far back as I can remember, my impression was that Metropolis and Gotham were across a bay from each other, but (since Crisis especially) this no longer seems to be the case, most of the time.  Byrne did seem to place Metropolis in the midwest, but other writers have had other ideas. It would be nice if DC actually came out with a definitive map of the DC universe and would then stick to it.  Is there such a map as part of the DC role playing game?

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From: (Cisco’s Buddy)
Date: 5 May 91 21:21:37 GMT
Local: Sun, May 5 1991 5:21 pm
Subject: Re: Gotham City is in New Jersey?????????

Both Metropolis *and* Gotham City were intended to be analogs of NYC. As Frank Miller once put it, Metropolis is New York by day, and Gotham City is New York by night. At some point circa 1970, DC started de-emphasizing their fictional cities and started using real cities more and more (though obviously Superman and Batman were too entrenched in their respective fictional cities to be moved elsewhere).

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From: (Brad Ferguson)
Date: 1996/07/25
Subject: Re: where is metropolis

As vastly different as they are, both Metropolis and Gotham City are supposed to be New York.  (Indeed, Batman stories were set in New York durign the early 1940s.) It was comics writer and artist John Byrne (who revamped Superman in the 1980s) who said Metropolis is New York by day, and Gotham is New York by night.

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From: (Tzen-Ping Liu)
Date: 1997/04/23
Subject: Re: Where is Gotham?

In an afterword written by Dennis O’Neil for the novelization of Knightfall, he states Gotham is “New York’s mirror-world counterpart.” He also adds “Batman’s Gotham City is Manhattan below Fourteenth Street at eleven minutes past midnight on the coldest night in November.” But don’t get me wrong, Wizard Magazine stated New York does exist in the DCU (just read Green Lantern or Spectre) and is a one (or two) hour drive from Gotham.  Though Metropolis was originally based on Toronto by Siegal $ Schuster, it has taken more New York characteristics for nearly 60 years.  What I find ridiculous is the fact that the Statue of Liberty appears in Metropolis in Superman IV and in Gotham in Batman Forever. (GAH!)

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From: (Don Smith)
Date: 1997/07/17
Subject: Re: Where is Gotham City?

From TALES OF THE DARK KNIGHT: Batman’s First Fifty Years: 1939-1989, page 66:
“Gotham City is the enduring stage for the tales of the Dark Knight. Although in the early days New York was identified as Batman’s Big City Beat, by Batman 4 the venue was Gotham City. Although it was meant to be a fictional place, it was—and is—clearly modeled after New York.

“‘My standard definition of Gotham City is, it’s New York below Fourteenth Street after eleven o’clock at night,’ says Batman editor Denny O’Neil.”

The article goes on to discuss how Gotham borrowed many of its features from NYC, and add ed a few “extra” to spice things up.

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From: “Peter T. McDermott” Date: 1998/08/18
Subject: Re: Gotham City and Metropolis (was Re: Metropolis’ Football team)

Please someone post if they know who said it, but I _think_ it might have been Frank Miller. “Metropolis is New York by day. Gotham City is New York by night.” That works for me the best. 

Google Books
New York: The Unknown City
by Brad Dunn and Daniel Hood
Vancouver, BC: Arsenal Pulp Press
2004
Pg. 177:
No city has served as backdrop to more comic books than New York. Almost every classic superhero battled crime in some fictional form of New York, and many were born and developed their superpowers here. Batman had his Gotham; Superman his Metropolis.

There’s an old saw that Metropolis is New York by day, and Gotham City is New York by night. But an editor at DC Comics once said it was more than that: “Gotham is Manhattan below 14th Street at 3 a.m., November 28, in a cold year. Metropolis is Manhattan between 14th and 110th Street on the brightest, sunniest July day of the year.”

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From: Ben D
Date: Fri, 28 May 2004 15:41:43 -0500
Local: Fri, May 28 2004 4:41 pm
Subject: Re: Batman vs Superman?

Let me see, when I was researching my thesis (on this very subject) I found this quotation:

“The difference between Gotham and Metropolis succinctly summarizes the differences between the two superheroes. As current Batman editor Dennis O’Neil put it: ‘Gotham is Manhattan below Fourteenth Street at 3 a.m., November 28 in a cold year. Metropolis is Manhattan between Fourteenth and One Hundred and Tenth Streets on the brightest, sunniest July day of the year’” (9).

-Boichel, Bill. “Batman: Commodity as Myth.” The Many Lives of the Batman: Critical Approaches to a Superhero and his Media. Eds. Roberta E. Pearson and William Uricchio. New York: Routledge, 1991. 4-17. 

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityNicknames/Slogans • Saturday, March 29, 2008 • Permalink