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*The Imperial Capital of Oz*
- "When Morning came, the travelers were filled with high spirits as they continued to follow the Yellow Brick Road. Soon they saw before them in the distance a beautiful bright green glow in the sky. "That must be the City of Emeralds!" said Dorothy to her companions. As they walked on, the green glow became brighter and brighter, and it seemed that at last they were nearing the end of their long journey. Yet it was late afternoon before the little party came to the end of the paved yellow road which stopped at the great marble wall that surrounded the entire city. It was high and thick and of a bright florescent green color and studded in countless of glittering emeralds."
- ― The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900)
- "Oh, look! There's Emerald City! Oh, we're almost there at last! At last! It's beautiful, isn't it? Just like I knew it would be. He really must be a Wonderful Wizard to live in a city like that! "
- ―Dorothy Gale (1939)
The Emerald City, is the biggest and most relevant city in the magical Land of Oz. It stands in the very center of Oz, being the official imperial capital of the entire country. It's founder is L. Frank Baum, aka the Royal Historian of Oz and the author and creator of the Oz legacy. It first appeared over one hundred years ago in Baum's first Oz book titled The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, published in 1900. It is introduced in the eleventh chapter of the novel titled The Wonderful City of Oz, and is often referred to as the "City of Emeralds" in the original text.
*Welcome To Emerald City*
- "Oh Look, Emerald City is now closer and prettier than ever! "
- ―Dorothy Gale (1939)
The city is a very important key element in the book, being the protagonist's desired destination throughout a good majority of the story:
When a little Kansas farm girl named Dorothy Gale and her pet dog called Toto are swept away by a cyclone and transported to the undiscovered realm called "Oz", Dorothy becomes determined to find a way back to her beloved guardians; Uncle Henry and Aunt Em. The only one believed to be powerful enough to send Dorothy home where she belongs is Oz's most dominant ruler, the great and wonderful, yet mysterious and reclusive Wizard who resides in an emerald encrusted city.
- "There's a way to the Emerald City, that's not too far, is it? So just take your dilemma, child, and lay it on the Wizard. "
- ―The Wiz (1975)
- Despite the city intentionally being built for the Wizard and ruled by him for decades, the City of Emeralds is now officially and rightfully ruled by the lovely child Queen and rightful ruler of Oz, Princess Ozma, the long-lost daughter of the deceased mortal King Pastoria. Ozma is the last surviving figure of royalty in Oz and is the true heir to Oz's imperial throne.
- The German fantasy novel by author Michael Ende, first published in 1979 titled: The Neverending Story; the fictional Imperial Capital in the fantasy land of Fantasia called the Ivory Tower, has been argued by many scholars to indeed be based upon Baum's Emerald City. And it's ruler the Childlike Empress is loosely based on the character of Princess Ozma.
W. W. Denslow & John R. Neill Illustrate Oz
- "It's Wonderful! The Emerald City! "
- ―Dorothy Gale (1939)
The original look of Emerald City in the book was much different than the look of the city in the iconic The Wizard of Oz musical by MGM. Popular artist and close friend to L. Frank Baum, W. W. Denslow was known for being a rather successful children's illustrator in the late 1800's. John R. Neill would later illustrate the rest of Baum's Oz stories in the early 1900's, which were sequel books to his first Oz novel. But Denslow's artwork is more well known for being the original drawings to the story that started it all. Denslow's Oz interpretations are still more popular compared to John's later Oz interpretations.
When collaborating with Baum, Denslow used many different bits and pieces taken from various different structures from places all around the world. It is very likely that the late "White City" was the main inspiration. This real life city was once a recreational center and famous for it's 1893 world's fair and was also a place L. Frank Baum himself visited and was truly inspired by. The White City of Chicago was originally envisioned to be like "Luna Park" and "Dreamland ", both state of the art American amusement parks built to entertain the general public in the late 1800's and early 1900's.
Denslow gave the Emerald City a very futuristic and elaborate look, combining both of these inspirational establishments while adding hints of a 19th/20th century Spanish and Nouveau manner of Spaniard, Antoni Gaudi. The themes and architecture of the city buildings also seemed to channel the "Crystal Palace" at Sydenham in the circa 1800's. In the later Oz books It is highly likely that the hotel known as "Hotel Del Coronado" in California, influenced Baum's description as well as in the artwork by Neill. Del Coronado was built in 1888 and has a rather glamorous history as many iconic Hollywood celebrities and notable people have visited or stayed there, such as L. Frank Baum, Marilyn Monroe and Lucille Ball.
- In Walt Disney's 1985 cult classic film Return to Oz, the interior design of Emerald City stays extremely faithful to the Illustrations in the Oz books of both Denslow's and Neill's artwork.
The Most Glorious Place On The Face Of The Earth
- "You're out of the woods, you're out of the dark, you're out of the night, step into the sun, step into the light! Keep straight ahead for the most glorious place on the face of the earth or the sky. Hold onto your breath, hold onto your heart, hold onto your hope, march up to the gate and bid it open, open... "
The City of Emeralds can be found at the very end of Oz's famous Yellow Brick Road. The road stops right at the emerald studded gates which is connected to the green marble wall that surrounds the entire city. The city is a magnificent place indeed, being described as stately, statuesque, imposing and even intimidating. The equal of which has never been seen or discovered, (even in other enchanted realms and fairylands.) In fact, it is so magnificent that a bright green glow can be seen far off into the distance many miles away that shines brightly high up, above the city and into the sky even in broad daylight. The closer you get to the city, the more its glow intensifies, and becomes brighter and brighter until everything surrounding the city, including the rays of the sun appear to be of a greenish tint.
Green Glowing Gates...
- "At the end of the road of yellow brick, was a big marble gate, all studded with giant sparkling emeralds that glittered in the sun so brightly, that even the painted eyes of the Scarecrow were dazzled by the brilliancy. "
- ―The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900)
The handsome wall that circles the city is described as being incredibly solid and immense. It is very thick and of the finest green marble, polished smooth and studded with a perfusion of giant sparkling emeralds and green gems. These countless gems all glisten and dazzle in the sun ever so brightly, it could blind one if they were not careful.
- "There was a giant emerald bell beside the green gate, and Dorothy pushed the button and heard a faint, silvery tinkle sound within. Then the big bejeweled door swung slowly open, and they all passed through and found themselves in a high arched room, the walls of which glistened with emeralds. "
- ―The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900)
Along this great green wall are four gate openings set at distances with two tall solid gold pillar towers on each side of it's entrance. The towers are there for the Emerald City soldiers aka the Royal Army of Oz can watch for any enemies or unwanted intruders, which is rarely, if ever. At the top of the wall is a wide walkway that is spacious enough four soliders can walk abreast upon it, side by side with ease.
These four city gates also face each of the four vast quadrants in Oz. Surprisingly, the gate on the west wing of Oz, originally did not have any type of road of which lead to the Winkie Country of Oz like the others lead into their own directions they faced. This is because no one wished to ever venture west since the people of Oz were far too cautious to trespass on into the Wicked Witch of the West's turf. Because this Wicked Witch had already imprisoned and enslaved the natives of the Winkie Country called Winkies. And the Witch would not hesitate to do the same with any intruders, so people stayed far away, resulting in the Emerald City administrators not wanting to be responsible for the horrible fate of any Ozians. Thus, resulting in not having a legitimate way for people to travel into the western quadrant.
- "There was no road---not even a pathway--- between the Winkie castle of the Wicked Witch and the Emerald City. "
- ―The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900).
Not until the Wicked Witch was ultimately liquefied and destroyed by Dorothy Gale of Kansas was there a road that ran through her country. After her demise the Tin Woodman, became the new monarch ruler there to take her place. The west wing of the Emerald City now has a path which leads to the Tin Woodman's Tin-Castle which the Winkies built in his honor.
The Glory of Emerald City
- "Bell Out of Order, Please Knock! "
- ―The Wizard of Oz (1939)
- In the Oz books, Baum is richly descriptive when writing about the Emerald City's authentic architecture and breathtaking appearance from the inside out. In Oz's capital city, there is no poverty, suffering, sickness, death or even violence. There is one prison in the city, but is rarely ever used because the citizens are all good people who never break the law.
The Green Glass Spectacles of Emerald City
- "Before them stood a little man about the same size as the Munchkins. He was clothed in velvet and silk of all green, from his head to his feet, and even his skin was of a greenish tint. At his side was a very large and wide green box covered in many sparkling emeralds."
- ―The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900).
When the Emerald City was first built, the thick high wall of polished marble that surrounded the entire city was all green and covered with giant sparkling emeralds. However, the city itself, while mostly all green and still decorated with millions of big green jewels and precious gems was entirely not. Many other stones are used as decorations inside the buildings such as rubies, diamonds, and sapphires, yet outwardly only emeralds appear, which is why the place is called the Emerald City. But the Wizard still demanded that anyone who passed the city gates and entered into his emerald studded empire, wear green-tinted spectacles/eyeglasses. The glasses became mandatory by the Wizard's law and the people who became residents were all told they had to wear them for their own good. To keep the glasses in place, the glasses consist of two 24 Karat gold bands on each side that reach all the way around to meet at the back of the wearer's head. Then the two bands are securely locked on tight. As long as the gold bands are locked on the glasses are unable to be taken off, even if one wishes to do so. The citizens and visitors of Emerald City must wear them at all times, living with these spectacles on 24/7. They must eat, sleep, bathe and go about their daily routines while wearing them. Even the animals of Oz who come to Emerald City are expected to wear the green tinted eye wear. There is only one key that can lock/unlock these devices which the Guardian of the Gates wears on a thick solid gold chain around his neck.
- The Guardian of the city Gates is the one and only person who is strictly responsible for adorning people who wish to enter the city with the glasses. The Guardian, keeps all these pieces in a very large bejeweled treasure chest of green. Inside this fancy green chest are thousands of glasses of every size, and cleverly designed to fit every living being.
- "The little man opened the very big green box that was also decorated with emeralds, and Dorothy saw that it was filled with spectacles of every size and shape. All of them had green glasses in them. The Guardian of the Gates found a pair that would just fit Dorothy and put them over her eyes. There were two solid gold bands fastened to them that passed around the back of her head, where they were locked together by a little key that was at the end of a chain the Guardian of the Gates wore around his neck. When they were on, Dorothy could not take them off had she wished, but of course she did not wish to be blinded by the glory and brightness of the Emerald City, so she said nothing. Then the green man fitted spectacles for the Scarecrow and the Tin Woodman and the Lion, and even on little Toto; and all were locked fast with the key. Then the Guardian of the Gates put on his own glasses and told them he was ready to show them to the Palace. Taking a big golden key encrusted with jewels from a peg on the wall, he opened another gate, and they all followed him through the portal into the streets of the Emerald City."
- ―The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900)
- The Wizard later explains this as an effort to protect the peoples eyes from the "brightness and glory" of the city and for ones eyes would not be dazzled and then blinded by the magnificent emeralds, but it really just made everything appear green. So the people who lived in the city believed it really was all Emerald. Even though the jewels were all indeed blinding, not all of them were emeralds. Many gems inside the city were also diamonds. Once Princess Ozma took the throne back, she eliminated the green spectacles for good and nobody had to wear them ever again. However, the Guardian of the Gates still watched over the Emerald City's main entrance even though he was no longer inclined to adorn visitors with the glasses.
The Wonderful City of Oz...
When Dorothy and her friends first entered the city for the very first time, before walking into the city's streets they first found themselves all in an office-chamber. Much like a service entrance that is described as an all green room with a high bejeweled gothic ceiling. This chamber room is where the staff of administrators and servants work, this is also where the spectacles are held. Once visitors have the spectacles adorned, they are lead to a huge round circular door that resembles a large vault. This door/vault leads straight into the city.
- "Even with eyes protected by the green spectacles, Dorothy and her friends were at first dazzled by the brilliancy of the wonderful green city. The streets were lined with beautiful green houses all built of green marble and studded everywhere with sparkling emeralds. They walked over a pavement of the same green marble, and where the blocks were joined together were rows of emeralds, set closely, and glittering in the brightness of the sun. The windows were of green tinted glass with green glass window panes. Even the sky above the city had a greenish tint, and the rays of the sun were a bright blinding green with golden hues. "
- ―The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900)
- In the Oz stories, Baum states that there are exactly 9,654 buildings in the Emerald City and 57,318 residents who live in them as city citizens. The entire outside flooring of the city is either of green cobblestones or dark green glossy marble, polished and buffed so smoothly it reflects everything above.
To divide and separate the streets from the sidewalks, thousands of large emeralds are neatly lined up along the marble as curbs, making blocks and neighborhoods for the citizens. The authentic and elaborate buildings are of well kept houses, apartments, shops, beauty parlors, markets, restaurants, libraries, workshops, toy stores, theaters, dazzling jeweled palaces, plazas, pools, and hundreds of solid gold towers reaching over 100 feet high. Most of the buildings have spacious balconies which overlook the vast city below. The building windows consist of luxurious green stain glass, outlined with solid gold window panes encrusted with gems. Any one of which would be the pride and glory of a King's crown.
Most of the buildings all flaunt green silk flags at the very tip tops that flutter in the breeze and read OZ in golden embroidery. Green marble bridges run across many of the buildings to let the citizens cross from one establishment to the next. The city is also said to have dozens of gorgeous gardens, green glass solariums and private courtyards filled with blooming green flowers. To accompany the gardens many green marble statues, bird baths, marble sitting benches and emerald studded light post are placed all around to decorate the area. There are also multiple parks holding refreshing green ponds with electric marble water fountains placed in the center of these ponds that spray green perfumed water high into the air.
- In Emerald City, electrical lights decorate many buildings not only inside but on the outside as well. Electric buildings that lite up were very futuristic, state of the art and modern during the time of which the original story takes place in circa 1899-1900.
Emerald City Citizens
- "There were many people--men, women, and children--freely walking about the green streets, and they were all dressed in unique clothes of all green. Even their skin appeared to be of a light greenish tint. The men's outfits were decorated with emeralds for buttons and the women's attire was adorned with emerald brooches. They all stopped in their errands and looked at Dorothy and her strangely assorted company with wondering eyes, and the children all ran away and hid behind their mothers when they saw the Lion; but no one spoke to them. Many shops and stores stood in the streets, and Dorothy saw that everything in them was green. Green toys were on display in the green windows, and green candy and green popcorn were offered for sale, as well as green shoes, green hats, green bags and other green items of all sorts. On one corner of a busy street, a man was selling green lemonade, and when the children bought it, Dorothy could see that they all paid for it with shiny green pennies. "
- ―The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900)
The Emerald City's citizens are rather sheltered people but also content, happy and at peace with their lives. There is a vendor on the streets selling green articles of every variety, and other vendors who sell green lemonade, beverages of which the city children purchase with green pennies. This contrasts with the later description of Oz, in which money does not feature nor even exist. When Ozma becomes ruler of Emerald City she eliminated money in general. Interpreters have argued that the Wizard may have introduced money into the city, and to the land of Oz, but this is not in the original text itself. Even though it is very likely that he did. In Gregory Maguire's Oz re-envisionment Wicked, this is a idea that is used in his novel (the Wizard introduces the value of money to the people of Oz, among many other things).
- In the Oz books, Baum states that many performers hold elaborate puppet shows for the children to watch while their busy parents run about the city on errands or when at work. A seamstress works in the green city streets, standing about and selling beautiful green handmade clothing of fabrics fit for an Emperor. These citizens are quite a fashionable bunch, wearing elaborate garments and costumes with real emeralds for buttons or gems sewn into the hems. Some of the clothing is really made out of all white cloth but because the city is so green, everything including the fabric appears to be green also. Even the city tints the shade of the people's skin which appears to be greenish.
The citizens also are all educated, content, and free from care. And the residents of the city rarely ever go beyond the city's marble wall and into the outside of the city because the Emerald City is the most beautiful place in all of Oz. It is so comfortable, prosperous and peaceful that no one ever truly wants to leave or live anywhere else once they have lived in the city after a while. And since the city is now ruled by Princess Ozma of Oz, the people of Emerald City love their ruler so much that they always want to be and live by her side, under her reign.
*Royal Palace of Emerald City*
- At the very center of the city, in the town's square, the imperial Royal Palace of Oz stands. This building is the richest, biggest and tallest establishment in the entire city. And the most important one too.
When the palace is first introduced, it is when Dorothy and her friends have come to see the wizard after their long journey on the Yellow Brick Road. After meeting with the Guardian of the Gates, the Soldier with the Green Whiskers gives them a tour of the city and leads them to the palace. When they arrive, they are waited upon by the beautiful green maid named Jellia Jamb who gladly shows them to their rooms.
- "Dorothy took Toto in her arms, followed the green girl through seven passages and up three flights of stairs until they came to a room at the front of the Palace. It was the sweetest little room in the world, with a soft comfortable bed that had sheets of green silk and a plush green velvet counterpane. There was a tiny fountain in the middle of the room, that shot a spray of green perfume into the air, to fall back into a beautifully carved green marble basin. Beautiful green flowers stood in the green glass windows, and there was a shelf with a row of little green books. When Dorothy had time to open these books she found them full of queer green pictures that made her laugh, they were so funny. In a wardrobe were many green dresses, made of silk and satin and velvet; and all of them fitted Dorothy exactly."
- ―The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900)
- The palace of Oz is indeed the most luxurious place in the city, having hundreds of beautiful rooms and walkways. The palace is the most noble place of the city, for this building alone is where the old King Pastoria, the former ruler of Oz himself once lived in long before the Wizard arrived in Oz and chose to overthrow Pastoria and build his all green city around his tiny kingdom.
The palace is where the great Wizard himself resided during his long reign as ruler. He stayed reclusive in his chambers for many decades, not even allowing the most trusted members of the city's staff administration to see him face to face. The Wizard kept his true form a mystery, and since he was a skilled illusionist he appeared to his people as many different things such as a bird, a brownie or even a ball of fire. Therefore the people of Oz believed him to be a great and powerful force to be reckoned with and never questioned his authority, nor could anyone know his true identity. This went on until the situation of Dorothy took place. After it was discovered that he was a humbug, the Wizard quickly left Oz, promising to take Dorothy and her dog Toto home with him to Kansas if they kept his secret safe. He planned to leave Oz in the very same hot air balloon he arrived in decades prior. But the balloon departed too soon as Toto ran after a little green kitten in the Emerald City streets and by the time Dorothy caught him and returned she was left behind. The Wizard did indeed make it back to our world in America, thus resigning as the Wizard and leaving the Scarecrow in charge to be King.
After Dorothy finally found a way home thanks to the magic of the Silver Shoes she wore since her arrival in Oz, the Scarecrow returned to the Emerald City to take the throne as planned. And even though he was made of straw, the Scarecrow still made a swell ruler and the people of Oz loved him as if he was a real man.
The Return of Princess Ozma...
In the second Oz book by Baum titled The Marvelous Land of Oz, published in 1904, the novel serves as a sequel to the first story. In the book Glinda, the Good Witch of the South, finally found King Pastoria's long-lost daughter the fairy child Princess Ozma. After many years of searching Glinda transformed Ozma to her true form and Ozma took her rightful place as heir to Oz's throne. The Scarecrow was happy to give up his position as ruler, as Ozma was the most beautiful, honest and loveliest child Queen that Oz could hope for.
Living in the palace is Ozma's Royal court of city subjects which consist of many richly dressed people who stand around in the palace plaza outside the Royal chambers every morning and talk amongst each other to keep themselves entertained. Other familiar people and beings such as the Scarecrow, the Cowardly Lion, the Hungry Tiger, the Wizard and Dorothy Gale who Ozma became best friends with and eventually made Dorothy an official princess, sit inside the chamber right next to Ozma upon her Royal throne. There Ozma spends one hour everyday listening to the problems and request of her people whom she cares deeply for because she does not like to see any Ozian unhappy.
Queen Ozma's palace is said to be three stories high with three flights of stairs and has seven passages which lead to the court room and it's Royal chambers. Before entering one must always wipe their feet on a plush green rug before being allowed to pass.
Some sections of the palace are entirely paneled all of spotless mirrored glass, reaching from the ground and stretching up to the ceilings. Since the floors and walls are all mirror, one will find themselves completely surrounded by their own reflection at every angle whichever way they turn to look. In every room and hallway, giant crystal chandeliers hang beautifully from the ceiling fixtures that light up the mirrored rooms very brightly rather it be day or night.
All of the chambers in the palace have lots of décor all chosen in good taste that compliments its other surroundings. The rooms are all private suites, filled with rich green carpet, green satin draperies, green antique furniture and solid gold credenzas holding fireplaces and decorated mantels. There are comfortable canopy beds filled with satin bedding, silk sheets and soft pillows stuffed with ostrich feathers. There is also a private sitting room with a solid gold grandfather clock and a walk in bathroom made entirely out of green marble with a sink in bathtub said to be large enough for a horse to bathe in. These rooms are all connected, making a large condominium apartment for each individual resident.
The bedrooms hold an elegant wardrobe filled with gorgeous and handsome clothing that fits the guest perfectly. The rooms are also filled with cozy velvet chairs with exquisitely embroidered throw pillows and green dinette glass tables with polished platters of gold and silver that are openly laid out and filled with scrumptious treats to eat. There are marble bookshelves with many green books to read filled with funny green illustrations. Many oil paintings of Oz's history hang upon the walls and attractive marble statues stand at nearly every corner. Next to the green draperies, delicate green vases of china and porcelain filled with bouquets of fresh green flowers are placed by the green stained-glass windows. To complete the suites, electric green marble water fountains are placed in the center as the focal point of the rooms. These fountains spray green perfumed water high up into the air, so high in fact that the water is said to almost reach the emerald encrusted ceiling, all while filling the area with a refreshing fragrance as the water gracefully falls back into its marble basin.
Santa Claus In Emerald City?
- Many iconic children figures and Holiday characters from other fantasy lands outside of Oz, have visited the palace in Emerald City for lavish banquets or grand celebrations such as Santa Claus himself, who attended Ozma's Birthday. Santa was an honored guest and sat at a table with the princess that was crowded with delicious foods and scrumptious cakes and treats. During his stay Ozma loaned him the Sawhorse, so he could take a full tour around the city and see all the dazzling green sights around the palace. (The Road to Oz).
Oz History: How the Emerald City Was Built
Long, long ago, centuries before The Wonderful Wizard of Oz takes place, Oz was once ruled by a very old yet kind and gentle King of mortal blood named Pastoria. Along with his subjects he lived in a tiny Kingdom in Oz filled with peace and harmony. However, one random day out of the clear blue sky, suddenly a large air-craft of sorts came descending down from the clouds up above, it slowly came to the ground and landed in the exact center of Oz. The people of Oz, Pastoria's subjects and even the Witches of Oz themselves had never seen such a peculiar invention. Inside the basket that was attached to the giant balloon was a man, he called himself Oscar Diggs, and enthusiastically introduced himself as a great Wizard and Magician, and a force to be reckoned with. And the people of Oz, being as gullible as they were, believed him. The Ozians asked if the Wizard would be the ruler of the land and he agreed that he would look after Oz and someday rid the land of its Wicked Witches if they promised to obey his every wish and demand. The people of Oz were gullible people and believed him and his promises. And with that, Pastoria was overthrown. Thus, the people of Oz building the famous Emerald City in his honor and constructing the Yellow Brick Road that lead to the main entrance.
The only thing left of Pastoria was his delicate baby daughter and the fairy child of Fairy Queen Lurline, Princess Ozma. Who one day would get old enough to claim back her place as the rightful heir to her father's imperial Royal Throne. And since Ozma was half fairy, with magic running in her blood, these fairy powers she had could one day be used to challenge the Wizard. This worried the greedy Wizard as he wanted Oz's treasures all to himself. So one late night, the Wizard snuck into the palace of Pastoria, and snatched the baby Princess up and disappeared into the dark night. He gave the baby Ozma to a Wicked Witch named Mombi who lived in the northern quadrant of Oz in the Gillikin Country. Mombi was not as gifted or as powerful as the Wicked Witches of the east and west in Oz were, but she was still no stranger to the magic arts and practice of black magic. Mombi agreed to the Wizard's offer and favor to keep the baby hidden away from society and to never let anyone know where Ozma was. Mombi, transformed Ozma to disguise her as a boy named Tip to work as her personal servant and kitchen slave for many years. Much like in the story of Cinderella.
- It would not be until after the adventures of Dorothy Gale of Kansas and the Scarecrow becoming King of Emerald City, would Tip's true identity be revealed as the true Queen of Oz.
The City of 1925
In the Wizard of Oz silent film, the Emerald City is shown throughout the story. This version of the Emerald City was based off of Edmund Dulac's illustration for the Arabian Palace in the Arabian Nights Fairytale.
The City of 1939
The Emerald City in the classic MGM version starring Judy Garland is probably the most well-known look out of all the other Emerald Cities. The city is only seen from a great far off distance upon grassy and flowery hills beside mountains. Unlike in Baum's descriptions of the city, this city has no gate, only a giant door that leads visitors inside. No green spectacles are seen nor mentioned by the Guardian of the Gates aka the "Door Man", as they called him in the film.
Inside, all of the buildings are constructed out of hundreds of skyscraper cylinder domes of what appears to be of green marble and green glass. These odd looking towers and buildings are all crowded together. Inside of the city a horse of a different color, pulls a drawn carriage and takes guest on a tour of the city. All of the streets are polished and of dark green marble, some area's have velvet carpets. The green cylinder dome buildings have small windows and doors. Colorful gardens are seen with green watered ponds and beauty shops. The image was selected by MGM Art Department head Cedric Gibbons, from a tiny photo of a sketch in the studio's library. The work of a pre-1914 German artist, the picture suggested a city of upside-down test tubes — more abstract than the Moorish, Spanish styled version of the City that Denslow provided in the original book. Assistant art director Jack Martin Smith later explained that the MGM personnel chose the look because it did not resemble any known buildings in any style; "It looked like some strange but beautiful thing we had never seen before."
Journey Back To Oz 1974
In this animated all star musical semi sequel. The Emerald City is seen throughout the story.As the Scarecrow is now King, Witch Mombi sends her army of angry elephants in the city to march their way through the streets and destroy the beautiful green buildings.
The Wiz 1974-2015
- "You've got to be seen Green!"
- ―Emerald City Citizens in 'The Wiz' (1978)
In the 1974 Broadway musical of The Wiz, Emerald City was a painted backdrop of a fantasy city. Everyone who either lives in or visits the "Big Green Apple" must wear green glasses, an element dropped for screen versions of The Wiz. Dorothy and her friends encounter the citizens dancing the "Emerald City Ballet", and learn that some intimidating rumors about the Wiz have left the people too scared to try and meet him.
The Emerald City in the 1978 musical film version The Wiz is actually used (along with all of the entire land of Oz) as a metaphor for New York City. The Twin Towers are used for the Royal Palace of the Wizard (played by Richard Pryor).
The city's residents are a group of aristocratic, stuck-up, shallow and sophisticated people who are fashion-forward and materialistic. The citizens seem to be slightly avant-garde, while seemingly only caring about appearances.
The citizens magically changed their outfits according to what the Wizard said was in or out of style. Even though it is called Emerald City, the citizens wear other colors such as red and gold, this was done for only the film.
In the 2015 TV special The Wiz Live!, the Emerald City rests on top of a hill. The Bouncer guards the entrance, two emerald-encrusted doors. People can only visit the Emerald City if their names appear on his list, if they're famous, if they know someone famous, or if they pay the Bouncer with a sizable donation for his retirement fund. When Dorothy uses her connections to Addapearle to enter the City, he lets her and her friends all in. They encounter a crowd of fancily-clad denizens dancing underneath stone arches bathed in green light. The door to the Wiz's throne room apparently stays unlocked, but everyone in the City remains too scared to go through it. According to the Cowardly Lion, the Emerald City also has a movie theater and a bar, which the viewers never actually see themselves.
Return to Oz 1985
On Dorothy Gale's second trip to Oz, a melancholy six months later (probably longer in Oz), she finds that things throughout the land are not at all how she left them or remembers them.
In this version of the story, Emerald City stays much more faithful to the books in appearance than the 1939 version, or any other version for that matter.Even though the green city is in a state of apocalyptic ruins throughout the majority of the film, the viewer gets a tantalizing look into the city's lite up streets after Dorothy saves Oz and wishes Oz to be restored back to life. And during the celebration parade scene towards the very end, the scenes are all shot throughout the silver and gold carpeted hallways and mirrored throne room of Oz's royal palace.
The Muppets Wizard of Oz 2005In the 2005 Disney made for TV movie, starring pop singer Ashanti as Dorothy, the Emerald City is more modern and electrified in the night. The city is very modern-looking and almost resembles Las Vegas.
A hundred years after Dorothy Gale came to Oz aka (Outer Zone), the Emerald City is now a city filled with technology, crime, sex and overall corruption. The ruler of the city is a man known as "Mystic Man" who is a mere phony and copycat of the Wizard who once ruled over the city nearly a century ago. Since the city is so old, its original brightness and glory has long faded and citizens are no longer forced to wear the protective spectacles. (Tin Man)
Oz the Great & Powerful 2013In Disney's 2013 film, Oz the Great and Powerful, the city is a copy cat replica of the 1939 film's city with a more modern interior design.
Despite looking nearly identical to the 1939's Emerald City, unlike the design of MGM, this city is given a wall around it like described in the original book by Baum.
Once Upon A Time Episode 2014
The popular ABC TV show Once Upon a Time pays homage to the story of The Wizard of Oz while adding a modern twist.
The Emerald City can be seen in the multiple Oz episodes.
Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return 2014
Dorothy must save her friends and the Emerald City!
In the 2014 CGI Oz movie, the Emerald City is shown quite a bit throughout the story and film.
The Wicked Years
The Emerald City in Gregory Maguire's best selling mature Oz novel Wicked and its sequel trilogy books, is described as being very beautiful, consisting of elegant marble and solid gold palaces that are studded with gems and giant emeralds and also filled with attractive gardens holding lovely scenery.
But just like any realistic town the city also has many unpleasant areas where streets and neighborhoods are poverty-stricken, crime-infested danger zones with hostile and even violent citizens including thieves, pimps, prostitutes and drug dealers/addicts.
In Son of a Witch, the sequel to Wicked, Maguire introduces a place called "Southstairs", an extensive, strict political prison that practices justice in inhumane and cruel ways. It is located underground in the secret caves below the Emerald City and most of the city citizens and other Ozians have no clue it even exist.
In the successful Broadway Musical of the same name, the city portrayed on stage is also slightly darker as well, but not nearly as dark or as grim as described in Maguire's book. Also many characters and elements of the Emerald City from Maguire's books are left out in the stage production.
Emerald City Confidential
Dorothy Gale, in this game is now forty years older and prefers to be called Dee for short.
The Emerald City is the dominating key character in this version. The video game Emerald City Confidential gave the Emerald City a film noir feel and was described as "Baum meets Raymond Chandler."
Although at one point, the character Tip describes the city as being built by the Wizard, at another, the Scarecrow explains that the Wizard had usurped the crown of Pastoria, the former king of the city, and from the Wizard the crown had passed to him. The story, however, reverted to the Wizard having built the city in Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz, with the usurpation of the king's power being done by the four witches before his arrival.
In the first book, one scene of the Emerald City is of particular note in the development of Oz: Dorothy sees rows of shops, selling green articles of every variety, and a vendor of green lemonade, from whom children bought it with green pennies. This contrasts with the later description of Oz, in which money does not feature. Interpreters have argued that money may been introduced into the city by the Wizard, but this is not in the text itself.
Baum's City of Oz inspiration: From White to Emerald...
- The real life city and amusement parks that inspired Oz's capital...
Baum was inspired to make his city of Oz an alternative version of the "White City", "Dreamland Amusement park" and "Luna park" at Coney Island. White City was an elaborate recreational center and Dreamland Amusement park was an entertainment fair located in New York City. Both places were once considered as one of the most magnificent establishments built for the general public during the turn of the century.On Baum's visit to White City he fell in love with it's glowing bright lights that lite all of the big buildings up very beautifully. It truly was something that had never been seen or done before. Baum wanted his "Emerald City" to be much like this when writing his Oz books. But instead of naming it White, he of course chose to call it Emerald. When Baum went to Chicago for the World's Fair, many historians and Oz scholars who interpret The Wizard of Oz as a political allegory agree that the Emerald City was used as a metaphor for Washington, D.C. and unsecured "greenback" paper money. In this reading of the book, the city's illusory splendor and value is compared with the value of paper money, which also has value only because of a shared illusion or convention. It is highly likely that the "Hotel del Coronado" influenced its description in later books, as well as in the artwork by John R. Neill.
Allusions in popular culture
Seattle has been long nicked named the Emerald City due to all its green night lights that makes the city appear to be all green just like in Oz.
David Williamson (whose brother-in-law wrote the Oz-inspired musical Oz) wrote a play in 1987 called Emerald City. The term is used as a metaphor by the character Elaine Ross, describing Sydney as "the Emerald City of Oz", where people go expecting their dreams to be fulfilled, only to end up with superficial substitutes and broken dreams.
The 2006 Sydney New Year's Eve Festivities were entitled "A Diamond Night in Emerald City" also in reference to Williamson's play and the "Diamond Night" alluding to the 75th anniversary of the opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge in 2007. (The bridge was the centerpiece of the celebrations). Subsequently "Emerald City" has occasionally been used as an unofficial nickname for the city of Sydney.
The city of Seattle, Washington, in the United States uses "The Emerald City" as its official nickname, on account of how green it is in that region of the world. (Note: Washington State is also known as the "Evergreen State.")