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The Origins of Gotham

I was perusing through a list of the 98 nicknames of New York City, when I realized that I didn’t know the origin of the nickname ‘Gotham’ for New York. Apparently, it was nicknamed by Washington Irving after the city of Gotham in England. The British Gotham (which is actually pronounced Goatum), is noted for its Wise Men, who are actually fools. Unlike similar towns of fools in other traditions (Chelm and Abdera, for example), the Wise Men of Gotham were apparently only feigning foolishness (no one ever fakes foolishness, they only feign it). This was because at one time, madness was thought to be infectious, and in order to prevent a road being built through their town, they pretended to be crazy. Washington Irving, thinking that being crazy like a fox a characteristic of New Yorkers, nicknamed the city Gotham. And then Bob Kane came along and made a fictional version of Gotham City and let Batman live in it.