The city burning during the Gotham Cold War.
Gotham City was a city in the United States of America. It was famous for its rich history ranging from the American Civil War to its fall to corruption. For a long time, despite rivals in other cities, Gotham was considered to be America's greatest. This was until crime ran amok on the streets, but even then the title stood as much of the crime was blotted out to the outside. Gradually the dirt became more well known and by the time the Batman had come on the scene, Metropolis had become the greatest.
Under the Court
The Gotham Colony was founded by the British Empire. Due to it's small size, it was the perfect location to have one of the first bases of the Court of Owls. Since the beginning of it's history, the city was led by the First Families of Gotham, primarily the Wayne Family and the Kane Family. However, while the Waynes were beloved, the Kanes were held with more suspicion.
Around the late 1800s, the city experienced it's first contact with Metahuman life as Vandal Savage arrived. The city was also revitalzied in terms of architecture via Cyrus Pinkney and the Gates of Gotham. The city began to experience great corruption, though, and a street war was led between the Crime Bible and the Court. After the war, the Court began to take a more background scene in Gotham. Near the end of the 19th Century, the city suffered a huge zombie epidemic. History was rewritten when Alan Wayne ensured that everybody saw this as little more than a small plague of cholera, eventually this incident was forgotten.
The beginning of the next century saw the transformation of Gotham into a wonderous carnival city, known as Wonder City. In the 1950s, Gotham saw several zoos, museums and animal farms. With the people taking the city into their own hands, the Court of Owls had all but lost the city. Despite this, they continued to make assinsations whenever they saw fit. However, when recession hit in the 1960s, Wonder City ended and Gotham City ended up having several abandoned buildings by the mid-1970s.
The 1980s proved to be the worst period in the history of the city as Falcone's Mob allowed crime to run rampant through the streets and the GCPD to fall prey to corruption. Thievery and deceit was running at a surplus in Gotham. Nobody was safe during this Gotham, with the likes of Thomas and Martha Wayne even falling dead to crime.
Evolution of Crime
The 21st Century saw this crminal activity transform into something new, a revolution of crime was led by the Red Hood Gang, who effectively controlled the city. They even "killed" it via catastrophe in response to the urban legend of the Batman. With the urban legend, the GCPD's corruption was taken out and the city started to recover, until psychos like the Joker began to rear their head. Eventually the Batman proved to be real, with the Parademon Invasion of Earth. Though it took many a few years to believe it, the Batman's god-like presence was what had truly changed Gotham. He even managed to defeat the Court of Owls in the battle of the Night of the Owls. However, following the night, the city went on a downward spiral, with riots being sparked by the Joker, Atlantis flooding the city and the Secret Society taking over. Upon the Secret Society's takeover, the city's chaos and crime became more rampant than ever before, despite being coincidentally organized. Scarecrow, Mr. Freeze, Man-Bat, Poison Ivy and the Ventriloquist each divided the city unto themselves to do whatever chaotic activities they could in their sectors. Killer Croc took control of the sewers. Hence, under the Society, crime was rampant and free under organized insane criminals.
Ironically, the Secret Society's takeover eventually resulted in the Arkham War. With Bane taking control of the city, order eventually returned with the city being relatively stable by the time the Batman returned. Shortly thereafter, the city was subject to the Gotham Cold War which ended with the city in flames. However, given that by the end of the Cold War, almost all of the Batman's enemies were defeated, it was easy for order to be restored.
As the Eye War started and the territories of the Eye World grew, Gotham City found itself under constant threats. Due to the efforts of the Wayne-Powers Corporation, Gotham City was turned into Neo-Gotham and saved from the destruction of Brother Eye. Eventually, however, the Veil that protected Neo Gotham from Brother Eye was brought down and the Bugs began to swarm the city. Thanks to the efforts of Batman, however, the Battle of Neo Gotham ended with the destruction of the Eye World.
The Gotham City of Earth 2 had gone through much of the same nonsense, except Batman had come on the scene much earlier. Due to him, he was able to prevent several evils and made the city so safe that the Superme Court authorized cryo prisons. These prisons contained villains, making them unable to break out. Due to this, Arkham Asylum was made an amusement park. Gotham was destroyed, along with it's residents and villains, during the Apokolips War.