Emerald City

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
For other uses, see Emerald City (disambiguation).
Emerald City
Scarecrow, Cowardly Lion, Dorothy, and Tin Man outside Emerald City (Disney animatronics).jpg
Audio-animatronic versions of characters from The Wizard of Oz sighting the Emerald City in The Great Movie Ride.
The Oz series location
Creator L. Frank Baum
Genre Classic children's books
Type Imperial capital city
Notable locations Wizard's private chambers/ Princess Ozma's royal palace/ Imperial throne room/ Royal apartment suites
First appearance The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900)

The Emerald City (originally referred to as the "City of Emeralds"), is the official imperial capital in the fictional continent of the Land of Oz in American author L. Frank Baum's classic series of Oz books. It is first introduced in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900).

Fictional description in the Oz Books[edit]

Located in the exact center of the fictional continent, the Emerald City can be found at the very end of Oz's most notable road that is paved with yellow bricks.

L. Frank Baum stated in his sixth Oz book, The Emerald City of Oz, (1910), that the Emerald City is the most dazzling and immaculate place on earth, the equal of which has never been seen or yet discovered (even in other Fairylands). In the third chapter of The Emerald City of Oz titled How Ozma Granted Dorothy's Wish, it is revealed there are exactly 9,654 buildings in the Emerald City and 57,318 residents. Around the entire city is a high glowing wall of thick fluorescent green marble studded with a profusion of glittering emeralds. All these emeralds glisten in the sunlight so brightly, they could easily blind one who was not careful.

"They started on their way, and soon saw a beautiful green glow in the sky just before them. 'That must be the Emerald City,' said Dorothy. As they walked on, the green glow became brighter and brighter, and it seemed that at last they were nearing the end of their travels. Yet it was afternoon before they came to the great wall that surrounded the City. It was high and thick and of a bright green color. In front of them, and at the end of the road of yellow brick, was a big gate, all studded with emeralds that glittered so in the sun that even the painted eyes of the Scarecrow were dazzled by their brilliancy."

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Ch. 10

Before one is allowed to enter into the streets of Emerald City, the Guardian of the Gates who guards the portal leading to the main entrance, adorns every living being who visits with green-tinted spectacles. This is supposedly done in order to protect their eyes from being permanently blinded by the brightness and glory of the city's brilliancy. These spectacles are kept in a big green box which is accessed by a little golden key the Guardian wears on a chain around his neck. This key is also used to lock the spectacles on, and is the only key able to unlock them as well. No one in the city can remove the spectacles without the Guardian's assistance. One must eat, sleep, bathe and go about their errands and daily routines with the spectacles on at all times.

"Even with eyes protected by the green tinted spectacles, Dorothy and her friends were at first mesmerized in the magnificent city. The green streets were lined with beautiful green buildings, all built of reflecting green marble and covered everywhere with sparkling emeralds. They walked over a pavement of the same green marble, and where the smooth blocks were joined together were rows of smaller emeralds, each set closely, and glimmering in the brightness of the sun. All the windows had green stained glass within the frames; for even the sky above the city had a greenish tint, and the rays of the sun were green. There were many people--men, women, and children--walking about, and they were all dressed in splendid green clothes and had light green skin".

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Ch. 10

Most of the buildings inside are arched domes and skyscraping spires consisting of houses, stores, bakeries, restaurants, libraries, offices, toy shops, apartments, and palaces etc; most of which are made of the same green marble with green stained glass windows and exquisitely decorated in emeralds. Other types of precious and rare stones are used in the decorations inside these elaborate establishments such as rubies, diamonds, sapphires, amethyst and turquoise. But outwardly only emeralds appear, which is why the place is called the Emerald City. The balconies of the tall towers that overlook the city below are said to be so immense and spacious, they could comfortably fit an entire musical orchestra band on them. Every building flaunts a handsome green flag at the very top that flutters in the breeze and bears the "Oz" symbol on the banners in satin or silk embroidery. In The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, the city is described as being completely green, but in later Oz books, it is revealed that green is merely the predominating color and some of the architecture such as the bridges, roofs, doors and window panes are constructed of solid gold and silver as well. Many beautiful parks, royal courtyards and gardens are located throughout the city. Within each of these places are green glass sunrooms, green gazebos with marble benches, marble bird baths, and electric marble fountains that shoot green perfumed water high into the air before falling back into the smooth basins. Countless large, sparkling emeralds are set in straight rows along the polished marble flooring to divide the curbs from the streets and sidewalks. On the cracks of the pavement where these marble blocks are joined together are smaller green gems set neatly and closely in place. Even the street lights on every block and corner are encrusted with emeralds. In the city's center stands the royal palace of the Wizard of Oz which is guarded by the Soldier with the Green Whiskers, who makes everyone wipe their feet upon a plush green carpet before entering.

The palace is styled with prepossessing green furniture with soft velvet cushions on the seatings and are outlined with ornamental emeralds. Bouquets full of fresh green flowers arranged in green pots are placed by the windows, and there are shelves filled with rows of little green books to read. In the middle of each room there also lies a tiny fountain of green perfumed water. Whenever the Soldier with the Green Whiskers blows on his green whistle, at once a young girl with pretty green hair and green eyes and dressed in a green silk gown named Jellia Jamb will appear. She is the head maid and the sweetest employee of the Emerald City's staff administration. If one walks up three flights of stairs and through seven passageways, they will find themselves in the Wizard's court. This room is strictly for his subjects to occupie, and who are all gorgeously dressed. These people have nothing to do but politely converse with one another, but they always come to wait outside the Wizard's Throne Room. They gather every morning, although they are never permitted to step foot inside Oz's private chambers, let alone see him.

The citizens of the city originally wore sophisticated brocaded costumes of green with real emeralds for buttons, but eventually added other gems and colors to their clothing and attire in later Oz books. It is also revealed that most of the clothing everyone in the city wears is actually pure white. However, the green spectacles they are forced to wear by the Guardian makes literally everything including their outfits and even their skin complexion to appear to be of a greenish hue too.[1] When one leaves the Emerald City, their clothes change back to being plain white.

"As they left the Emerald City to find the Wicked Witch of the West, Dorothy still wore the new pretty silk dress she had put on in the palace. To her surprise, she noticed it was no longer green, but pure white. The ribbon around Toto's neck had also lost its green color and was as white as Dorothy's dress".

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Ch. 12

In The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, upon her first visit, Dorothy sees rows of busy shops selling green articles of every variety, and a vendor who sells green popcorn, green candy and green lemonade from which children bought with green pennies. This contrasts with the later description of Oz, in which money does not feature. Interpreters have concluded that the Wizard may have introduced the concept and value of money to the Oz citizens, but this is not in the text itself.[2] Not many animals are found within the city and people carry their items around in little green carts. Everyone seems happy, contented and prosperous, enjoying their work as much as their play. It is mentioned that there is a small prison in the city, but it is never used because the citizens are such good and honest people.

The giant wall that surrounds the entire city is all green, but the city itself is entirely not. It is explained that the spectacles the citizens wear makes everything appear green, when in fact it is "no greener than any other city". This is yet another "humbug" illusion created by the Wizard.[3] The Wizard also describes the city as having been built for him within a few years after he arrived.[4] It was he who decreed that everyone in the Emerald City must wear green eyeglasses. And since the first thing he noticed about Oz after he landed in his hot air balloon, was how green, lush and pleasant the country's landscaping was, he named his empire the "Emerald City".

In the second Oz book, The Marvelous Land of Oz (1904), however, the characters are required to wear the glasses at first, but halfway through the book, no more eyeglasses appear and no more mention is made of the brilliance, but the city is still described as green.[5] This is continued throughout the series. The only allusions to the earlier conception appeared in The Road to Oz (1909), where the little man known as the Guardian of the Gates wears green spectacles, the one and only character who continues to do so.[1] Furthermore, although at one point the character Tip describes it 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 book quickly concerns itself with finding the rightful heir to the crown of the city.[6] Princess Ozma remained the king's heir, though both she and the original king were transformed to the ruler of all Oz.[7] However, the story reverted to the Wizard's having built the city in Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz (1908), with the four wicked witches having usurped the king's power before the Wizard's arrival.[8]


Baum may have been partly inspired in his creation of the Emerald City by the White City of the World Columbian Exposition of 1893,[9] which he visited frequently, having moved to Chicago in anticipation of the event. W. W. Denslow, the illustrator of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, was also familiar with the White City, as he had been hired to sketch and document the exposition for the Chicago Times; Denslow's illustrations of the Emerald City incorporate elements that may have been inspired by the White City.[10] The quick building of the White City, in less than a year, may have been an element in the quick construction of the Emerald City in the first book.[4]

It is also likely that Baum's favored haunt, the Hotel Del Coronado, influenced its description in later books.[citation needed]


The Emerald City is a metaphor for the goal of all longings.[11]

Scholars who interpret The Wizard of Oz as a political allegory see the Emerald City 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 are 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.

Adaptations and allusions[edit]

In city nicknames and symbolism[edit]

David Williamson (whose brother-in-law wrote the Oz-inspired musical Oz (1976)) wrote a play called Emerald City (1987). The term is used as a metaphor by the character Elaine Ross, who describes 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.[citation needed] (Note that "Oz" can refer to "Australia" in colloquial Australian speech.[12]) 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" alluded to the 75th anniversary of the opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge in 2007.[13] (The bridge was the centerpiece of the celebrations). Subsequently "Emerald City" has occasionally been used as an unofficial nickname for the city of Sydney.[14] The head office of the Sydney-based merchant banking and private equity firm Emerald Partners is located on top of the Museum of Contemporary Art building on the Sydney Harbour foreshore, at Circular Quay. The firm was named after Baum's book and the David Williamson play.[citation needed]

The American city of Seattle, Washington has used "The Emerald City" as its official nickname since 1982.[15] There is also a drink known as "Emerald City" that is associated with the city of Seattle.[16] Eugene, Oregon is also referred to as the Emerald City, and the region has been known as the Emerald Empire as early as 1928.[17]

Muntinlupa City is nicknamed as the Emerald City of the Philippines by the Department of Tourism.

In films and television[edit]

  • The Emerald City appears in the film The Wizard of Oz (1939).
  • The Emerald City appears in The Wizard of Oz TV series. After the Wicked Witch of the West is resurrected by her loyal Flying Monkeys, she casts a spell on the Emerald City that tarnishes it.
  • The Emerald City can be seen on the hit ABC TV show Once Upon A Time.

A "Central City" is one of the chief settings of the 2007 Sci Fi television miniseries Tin Man, a re-imagining of Baum's world that alludes to many of the locales of Oz. For example, the "Outer Zone" (O.Z.) is described as a bleak rendition of the beautiful world of Oz.[18] Central City is a completely computer-generated set, one of the largest for a television series of its time, according to the production designer, Michael Joy.[19] Its scenic design features heavy elements of steampunk and pays visual homage to Blade Runner (1982), according to co-creator Craig van Sickle.[20]

In July 2014, Baby Gumm Productions presented Emerald City - A musical play at The Toronto Fringe Festival. The show is a jukebox musical that sees Dorothy and her friends in group therapy with Dr. Oz, Psychiatrist.

In literature[edit]

In Gregory Maguire's revisionist Oz novels, Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West (1995) and Son of a Witch (2005), the Emerald City is a much darker place than in Baum's novels. It does have splendid palaces and gardens, but sections are also beset by crime and poverty. Son of a Witch introduces Southstairs, an extensive political prison located in the caves below the Emerald City. The green glasses worn by the citizens are often used as a way to stop them from seeing what is going on around them.

In video games[edit]

The video game Emerald City Confidential (2009) portrays the Emerald City as a film noir place with private detectives, widespread corruption, mob bosses, smugglers, and crooked lawyers. Set 40 years after the events of The Wizard of Oz, its described as "Oz, seen through the eyes of Raymond Chandler".[21]


  1. ^ a b Riley, p. 155.
  2. ^ Zipes, Jack (1998). When Dreams Came True: Classical Fairy Tales and Their Tradition. New York: Routledge. pp. 175–6. ISBN 0-415-92151-1. 
  3. ^ Riley, Michael O. (1997). Oz and Beyond: The Fantasy World of L. Frank Baum. Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas. p. 53. ISBN 0-7006-0832-X. 
  4. ^ a b Riley, p. 57.
  5. ^ Riley, p. 106.
  6. ^ Riley, pp. 106-7.
  7. ^ Riley, p. 139.
  8. ^ Riley, pp. 145-6.
  9. ^ Madness in the White City. National Geographic. 2007. 
  10. ^ Baum, L. Frank Baum (2000). The Annotated Wizard of Oz, Edited with an Introduction and Notes by Michael Patrick Hearn (Revised ed.). New York: W. W. Norton. p. 176. ISBN 0-393-04992-2. 
  11. ^ "[1]",p.183
  12. ^ Oxford English Dictionary, s.v. Oz.
  13. ^ Archived August 21, 2006 at the Wayback Machine
  14. ^ Macquarie Dictionary : "Emerald City" noun Colloquial Sydney
  15. ^ Wilma, David (October 24, 2001). "Seattle becomes The Emerald City in 1982.". HistoryLink. Retrieved October 18, 2014. 
  16. ^ http://www.flasks.com/blog/the-flask-and-the-nfl-a-guide-to-watching-sport-with-a-flask/
  17. ^ https://books.google.com/books?id=4bUsAQAAIAAJ&q=%22emerald+empire%22&dq=%22emerald+empire%22&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0CD4Q6AEwBmoVChMI6rqNkIDBxwIVx0yICh3oQQ-v
  18. ^ "A Touch More Evil: Azkadellia's World", SciFi Pulse video (Atom Films mirror) - November 13, 2007
  19. ^ "Brick by Brick: Bringing Tin Man to Life", SciFi Pulse video (YouTube mirror) - November 16, 2007
  20. ^ "Tin Man Postshow: Peek Behind the Curtain, Kristin Dos Santos - December 5, 2007
  21. ^ Emerald City Confidential: Story, Wadjet Eye Games, Retrieved on March 4, 2009.