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Gotham - New York City

( Originally Published Early 1900's )



Gotham. The origin of the name "Gotham," as applied to the city of New York, is contained in a humorous book called "Salmagundi," written by Washington Irving, his brother William, and James K. Paulding, and is used to signify that the inhabitants were given to undue pretensions to wisdom. This definition of the word is taken from a story regarding the inhabitants of Gotham, a parish in Nottinghamshire, England, who were as remarkable for their stupidity as their conceit. The story relates that when King John was about to pass through Gotham toward Nottingham, he was prevented by the inhabitants, who thought that the ground over which a king passed became forever a public road. When the king sent to punish them they resorted to an expedient to avert their sovereign's wrath. According to this, when the messengers arrived they found the people each engaged in some foolish occupation or other, so they returned to court and reported that Gotham was a village of fools. In time a book appeared entitled "Certain Merry Tales of the Mad Men of Gotham," compiled in the reign of Henry VIII. by Andrew Bode, a sort of traveling quack, from whom the occupation of the "Merry Andrew" is said to be derived. Among these tales is the story of "The Three Wise Men of Gotham," who went to sea in a bowl.

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