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The History of Gotham City.

The Real Arkham Asylum

The Danvers State Hospital, also known as the Danvers Lunatic Asylum

Arkham asylum was first created by Dennis O’Neil in 1974. He named the asylum after a town in the stories of horror writer H.P. Lovecraft. Lovecraft originally created Arkham as an apocryphal analogue of Salem, Mass. The Lovecraft story, “The Thing on the Doorstep” features the Arkham Sanitarium. Though today Arkham is portrayed as a psychotic madhouse and/or high security prison, in the early days of Arkham Asylum in comics, it had a slightly more whimsical vibe. For example, the Joker kept a full functional lair beneath the asylum – his own skewed version of a batcave.

Lovecraft’s inspiration was likely the The Danvers State Hospital, also known as the State Lunatic Hospital at Danvers, The Danvers Lunatic Asylum, and The Danvers State Insane Asylum, was a psychiatric hospital located in Danvers, Massachusetts. Built in 1874 and opened in 1878, the hospital was designed by  Boston architect Nathaniel Jeremiah Bradlee on an isolated, rural site according to the Kirkbride Plan.

While the asylum was originally established to provide residential treatment and care to the mentally ill, its functions expanded to include a training program for nurses in 1889 and a pathological research laboratory in 1895. In the 1890s, Dr. Charles Page, the superintendent, declared mechanical restraint unnecessary and harmful in cases of mental illness. By the 1920s the hospital was operating school clinics to help determine mental deficiency in children. Reports were made that various, and inhumane shock therapies, lobotomies, drugs, and straitjackets were being used to keep the crowded hospital under control. This sparked controversy. During the 1960s as a result of increased emphasis on alternative methods of treatment, deinstitutionalization, and community-based mental health care, the inpatient population started to decrease.

Massive budget cuts in the 1960′s played a major role in the progressive closing of Danvers State hospital. The hospital began closing wards and facilities as early as 1969. By 1985, the majority of the original hospital wards were closed or abandoned. The Kilbride administration building closed in 1989. Patients were forced out to live on the streets abruptly and were given less than optimal future care. The entire Danvers State Hospital campus was closed on June 24, 1992. After abandonment, the wards and buildings were left to decay and rot for many years until the demolition.

 [parts of this article are extracted from wikipedia]

Gotham City History: Arkham Asylum

Arkham Asylum map FICTIONAL HISTORY Arkham Asylum is the home for the criminally insane denizens of Gotham City. But, as Director Jeremiah Arkham will tell you, it’s much more than that: “Arkham Asylum is not just any institution for the criminally insane. It’s the Ivy League of insanity.” Arkham Asylum was founded by Amadeus Arkham after his mother, […] Continue reading →

Gotham City: No Man’s Land

Gotham City skyline The Gotham earthquake was the worst on its kind in recorded East Coast history. It measured 7.6 on the richter scale and was centered in the Spillkin Hill area of Bristol Township about 10 to 20 miles north of the city center. Worse still, mosts buildings in Gotham had not been properly prepared for the […] Continue reading →

Gotham City History: The Origin of “Gotham”

Gotham City was named by Batman writer Bill Finger. When he was asked about how he chose the name “Gotham” and why he didn’t just use New York City, Finger has said: “Originally I was going to call Gotham City ‘Civic City’. Then I tried ‘Capital City’, then ‘Coast City’. Then I flipped through the […] Continue reading →

Gotham City Architecture: Gotham’s Architectural Historian Supervillain

gotham-furst-1 One of the great storylines in the Batman comics was “Destroyer” published in 1992. Written by Alan Grant, the premise is sure to please any disgruntled architect or uncompromising disciple of Howard Roark: an overzealous architecture historian / Navy SEAL bombs abandoned and derelict “soulless concrete” buildings that obscure the Neo-gothic architecture of the city’s […] Continue reading →

Gotham’s Architectural Historian Supervillain

gotham-furst-2 One of my favorite plots in the Batman comics—for reasons that will be painfully obvious— was a storyline titled “Destroyer” published in 1992. Written by Alan Grant, the premise is sure to please any disgruntled architect or uncompromising disciple of Howard Roark: an overzealous architecture historian / Navy SEAL bombs abandoned and derelict “soulless concrete” […] Continue reading →