Gotham’s Supervising Location Manager Keith Adams and writer Shaun O’ Banion give us a closer look behind the scenes of the past four seasons of Fox’s popular noir series. For the complete story please see the Fall 2018 Compass magazine.

All photos courtesy of Warner Bros. Television

Ben McKenzie as future Gotham Police Commissioner James Gordon. Photo: Jessica Miglio/FOX

Not unlike a costume designer selecting an unusual fabric, design or color to define a character’s look, the members of the Location Department on Gotham have shown a willingness to get their hands dirty, often literally, in order to find those grimy, grungy locations that will help define the city as a character. The Gotham Location Department’s specialty over the years has been scouting off the beaten path in order to deliver visually stunning locations rarely used by other shows.

Donal Logue as Harvey Bullock on the Tudor City Rooftop, Manhattan.
The rooftop is unique, with its views, looming gargoyles and signature rooftop sign.

Guastavino’s, 59th St, Manhattan, highlighting the arched Guastavino tile ceiling, and half moon window that looks out to the underbelly of the 59th St bridge.

Ben McKenzie, standing in front of the Old Bronx Courthouse. Photo: Jeff Neumann/FOX

The Old Bronx Courthouse

Many of Gotham’s most extraordinary locations are scheduled for redevelopment in the near future, their legacy living on only through the show, such as the Old Bronx Courthouse, first opened in 1934.  The Beaux-arts style stone and granite building had been hiding in plain sight for nearly twenty years before it was rediscovered by the Gotham LocationDepartment.  Since then, it has been featured extensively on the show for both exteriors and interiors. “From the street, it’s impressive,” Novotny says. “The marble lobby, even more so.”

Showcasing a more ominous side of the Old Bronx Courthouse.

The show turned another iconic location into something of a tourist destination.  The Bayley Seton Hospital in Staten Island, founded in 1831 to serve retired sailors, has served as a variety of settings over each of the previous four seasons.  Slated to eventually become a Community Center and green campus if its new owner, the Salvation Army ever manages to cut through the red tape, the hospital appeared in the series as fan-favorite Arkham Asylum, where Gotham’s most famous “criminally insane” baddies are housed and the production has left its “Arkham Gate” set piece standing on the site for multiple seasons.

The Bayley Seton Hospital, Staten Island

By far the location that is mentioned the mostand revered by the crew is the landmark Dime Bank in downtown Brooklyn, an imposing Classic Revival with a striking rotunda. Adams gives all the credit to scouts Susan Silas and Scott Tankel for the discovery.  “To find something unique, you have to pay attention to what’s happening in the real estate development world, keep feelers out, and track things that may be available in the future,” says Adams. The Dime Bank had been closed down for two or three years and owned by a number of different entities before finally being sold off to a developer.  Silas heard about it and got in to take a look.”  Once inside, there was no question the location was exceptional – even for a department with an impressive track record of unique finds. “It was built in the early 1900s and it has these gilded Mercury-head dimes, huge red marble columns, and the most incredible vault – the largest I’ve ever seen – with all of these safety deposit boxes that jut out, creating this unique visual chaos and texture” says Adams.  “It just screamed old New York and, subsequently, old Gotham.” They ended up shooting a scene in season four with Penguin’s unscrupulous accountant, Mr. Penn, in the vault and have returned to the bank for other scenes many times since.

Old Brooklyn Dime Savings Bank

Mott Haven Bar aka Bruckner Bar, Bronx, framed by the overpasses leading to the Willis Ave bridge.
The bar and surrounding streets are a gritty, yet very controllable area for exterior filming.

Oak Point Warehouse Silos. Gotham was the first major production to highlight the interiors of the industrial silos (at the now very production popular Oak Point Warehouse).

Mt. Olivet Church, Harlem. Gotham has portrayed the DUMBO arch as an abstract for the exterior
of the Gotham City Police Department, but for the Season 4 finale storyline, we needed a
proper entrance to the exterior of the GCPD. We re-established exterior GCPD with
the neo-roman style church located on Malcolm X Blvd.

The 12th Ave Viaduct, Manhattan, a mainstay for Gotham.
The repeating steel arches have been the backdrop for many episodes.

The Vanderbilt Museum, Centerport, Long Island. We chose a location outside of the 30-mile zone
to achieve a Miami-style feel for Gotham. As coincidence would have it,
we returned to the Vanderbilt Mansion the very next episode to play as Gotham Natural History Museum.
The mansion has its own diorama hall, and a suspended whale shark.

Poppenhusen Institute, an historic building (1868) in the outskirts of Queens (College Point).
The dramatic peaked high arching windows set the backdrop of our abandoned Gotham courthouse.

Alder Manor, Indoor Pool Room, Yonkers NY. Gotham has used this historic mansion many times on the show. We finally were able to feature its very unique indoor pool.

Gotham has filmed many scenes throughout the different environments and businesses at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. The GMD Shipyard at the Brooklyn Navy Yard was the backdrop for the high drama between Nygma and Penguin. The production embraced a grey wet day, and the titanic shipping cranes looked especially ominous and forbidding in the scene.

Manhattan Bridge

Thankfully, there’s at least one Gotham location that isn’t likely to disappear anytime soon—the anchorage of the Manhattan Bridge on the Brooklyn side. “In season two, we were scouting DUMBO, looking for the exterior of Gotham PD. I remember the director looked up at this big stone structure and… he just had an inspiration about it,” says Line Producer Thomas Whelan. ”It’s stuff like that that really makes you proud.”