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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.

Frumination: a blog with lots of public transit info

Michael Frumin has a great blog, Frumination, chock full of information about public transportation, mainly the NYC Subway. There are graphs, maps, pictures, and much more, with lots of data and links to data. A few interesting posts:

NYC Subway capacity analysis

Urban GPS and congestion pricing

Sources of NYC Traffic Data

Enjoy playing.

Police Sirens, and introducing the Rumbler

There are a wide variety of sirens at the disposal of police. However, there is now a new type of siren being added to their repertoire:

Christened with a tantalizing name, the Rumbler, it sends out low, bone-rattling vibrations, so it is not only heard, but also felt. One has been tested on the streets of New York, but the jury is out on whether it is effective, offensive or terrifying.

On the Nature of Commuting

The New Yorker has an article by Nick Paumgarten entitled There and Back Again all about commuting and why some people are willing to endure unreasonably long travel times. It focuses mainly on New York City and Atlanta, evidently a commuting Hell. As a bonus, the article also includes a brief etymology of the term ‘commute’:

The term “commute” derives from its original meaning of “to change to another less severe.” In the eighteen-forties, the men who rode the railways each day from newly established suburbs to work in the cities did so at a reduced rate. The railroad, in other words, commuted their fares, in exchange for reliable ridership (as it still does, if you consider the monthly pass). In time, the commuted became commuters.

Spider-Man Week in NYC and Marvel Tourism

Spider-Man is a creature of New York City. Few other cities have the ideal environment of tall buildings in such high density which is perfect for web-swinging. Almost anywhere else and Spidey would spend most of his time just jumping from place to place.

That being said, in honor of the upcoming opening of Spider-Man 3, New York City, is having a weeklong Spider-Man celebration. Events will be everywhere throughout the city, from zoos to libraries to museums.

One blogger, planning for this week, found a copy of a map of the Marvel Universe version of New York City, and tried to find these places in the real world. Here are his photos of Marvel tourist locations

The Skyscraper Museum’s BIG BUILDINGS

Awhile back, the Skyscraper Museum in New York City had an exhibit entitled BIG BUILDINGS. This exhibit, with an extensive online component, explored the history of really big buildings. Two categories, based on research, were created for these large structures, called Jumbos and Super Jumbos. These are buildings that are extreme, both in height and volume, relative to when they were built. Here is the Jumbo calculation methodology and here are the Jumbos and Super Jumbos built since 1950 (as of 1999, when the exhibit was held). Lots of good pictures and data for the skyscraper enthusiast.