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The name Gotham first appeared as a reference to New York in a book by Washington Irving in 1809. The book was a comic history of the Dutch regime in New York titled A HISTORY OF NEW YORK(by the imaginary 'Dietrich Knickerbocker), who was supposed to be an eccentric Dutch-American scholar. The book became part of New York folklore, and eventually the word Knickerbocker was also used to describe any New Yorker who could trace one's family to the original Dutch settlers. Irving is best known for writing The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Rip Van Winkle.

"Gotham" was the name of a particular parrish (then town) in Nottingham, UK. In the 16th century, its residents had a reputation for daftness or madness. People would ironically liken someone to the 'wise men of Gotham', meaning of course the opposite. Early on in New York City's history (Early 1800's), British visitors would often liken NYC to the mad town of Gotham, due to the "mad ways" of its inhabitants (at least from their point of view). The nick name of Gotham stuck for NYC, and was used well up into the 20th century where it gradually began to fall out of use in favor of more positive homegrown nicknames like "The Big Apple".

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Q: How did NYC get the nickname Gotham?
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