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The view was like a model of a city made with an impossibly deft hand -hundreds and hundreds of buildings, grand and humble, glazed with tile and black with soot. A city built on a gentle rise, he could now see: long slicing boulevards and curving promenades, a honeycomb of streets and canals, parks and squares, a thousand mews, ten thousand alleys, a hundred thousand windows blinking bronzely. A glowing organ, like the illuminated heart of Oz itself pushed through the flesh of the land, pulsing with its own life, tricked out with monuments, defaced with the graffiti of broken trees, the Palace of the Wizard a cancer upon the landscape, the dead center of it all.
— Liir’s description of the city from a bird’s-eye-view whilst flying on the broom[src]

The Emerald City (formerly called Nubbly Meadows) in Wicked is the social, political, military, and economic imperial capital of the Land of Oz. The city is also located in the exact center of Oz, and is the nation's largest and most significant settlement.

Emerald City OBC.jpg

The city is a major location in the Wicked Years by author Gregory Maguire; a more mature and realistic reenvisioning of the fantasy city created by L. Frank Baum, first appearing in Baum's first Oz book titled The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, published in 1900.

In the Novels

Long before the Wizard arrived, the city was once a hamlet known as Nubbly Meadows, located near the ancient burial ground of Open Tombs. However, Pastorius, the Ozma Regent, renamed the hamlet City of Emeralds (partially due to all the emerald mines also located near by) and declared it the imperial capital of united Oz. During the rule of Pastorius, there were days of expensive balls in the court proper, and of bawdy carnivals of patriotic sentiment outside the palace walls; this was mainly done to distract the urban poor from the deprivations of the Great Drought.

Decades later in Wicked, now under the regime of the Wizard, the city has grown significantly. It is seen to have many prosperous and wealthy citizens of high society who wear lavish clothing and rich costumes. The city itself holds many splendid gardens with water fountains and ponds; beautiful streets set with glistening emeralds, and elaborate and luxurious houses, shops, markets, apartments, mansions and palaces all made out of polished green marble and solid gold. However, under the facade of being a dazzling imperial empire, it is a much darker and dangerous place compared to L. Frank Baum's original Oz books. In Maguire's Oz the city is far more realistic and politically troubled, having less attractive streets filled with crime and poverty, consisting of unpleasant people, such as pimps, prostitutes, drug-dealers/addicts, thieves, thugs and even sections of trained assassins who are involved in top secret conspiracies and organizations. There is even an underground political prison called Southstairs located deep beneath the city.

Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West

Elphaba Thropp first travels to the city with Glinda intending to only visit. However, after a disappointing meeting with the Wizard, Elphaba decides to permanently stay, eventually becoming a secret assassin and plots to secretly undermine the Wizard's rule. Elphaba lived in an abandoned building in a rather isolated section of the city. Years later, Elphaba and Fiyero Tigelaar are reunited again in the city after first meeting at Shiz University many years prior. The two start a clandestine love affair which last for several months but ultimately leads to Fiyero's tragic murder at the hands of the Wizard's secret police known as the Gale Force. After Fiyero's death and discovering his body, Elphaba is so devastated and traumatized, she immediately flees the city and never returns to live there again.

Son of a Witch

Elphaba's teenage son named Liir accompanied Dorothy Gale and her companions to the Emerald City after Elphaba was accidentally killed by a bucket of water at the hands of Dorothy. After Dorothy leaves Oz, Liir finds himself without a purpose, but with some guidance and advice from the Scarecrow, he goes to see Glinda who resides in a beautiful apartment in the upper class section of the city. Glinda has now become the temporary throne minster of the empire after the Wizard's abrupt departure. Liir eventually enrolls himself in the city's Home Guard and ventures into Southstairs, the underground political prison beneath the city in hopes of finding his long lost half-sister Nor. He hears rumors she has already escaped Southstairs, thus his search for her is unsuccessful. However, in the end Liir does come to the realization that Nor is the one responsible for the graffiti in the Emerald City that read: "ELPHABA LIVES".

A Lion Among Men

Brrr, the Cowardly Lion, lived in the Emerald City temporarily after Dorothy Gale left Oz, before abandoning high society and living in the forest and jungles of Oz.

Out of Oz

The Wizard has been long gone now and Elphaba and Nessarose Thropp's younger brother Shell has crowned himself the Emperor Apostle of Oz. Eventually the long lost Princess Ozma is found and Brrr is made the Throne Minister of Oz until Ozma is old enough to take the throne.

Known Emerald City denizens

  • Ozma Tippetarius: Current Ozma/ruler of Oz.
  • Brrr: The Cowardly Lion, Throne Minister of Oz.
  • The Wizard: Former dictator/emperor of Oz.
  • Shell Thropp: Former Emperor Apostle of Oz (Munchkinlander).
  • Pastorius: Former Ozma Regent (presumably Gillikinese).
  • Ozma the Bilious: Former ruling Ozma/ruler of Oz.
  • Glinda Arduenna Upland: Former Throne Minister of Oz, part-time resident (Gillikinese).
  • Po “Puggles” Understar: Butler to Glinda.
  • Pfannee: Châtelaine of an atelier in the Lower Quarter (Munchkinlander).
  • Scarecrow: Former Throne Minister of Oz.
  • Crope: Old school friend of Elphaba Thropp, an actor.
  • Tibbett: Old school friend of Elphaba Thropp.
  • Chyde: The Under-mayor of Southstairs prison.
  • Chuffrey: A Paltos baron, businessman, and late husband of Glinda Arduenna Upland.
  • Avaric bon Tenmeadows: Lawyer, former servant to the Emperor Apostle, full-time resident (Gillikinese).
  • Former ruling Ozmas: (Initiata, the Mendacious, the Warrior, the Librarian, the Scarcely Beloved, etc.)

In the Musical

Glinda, Madame Morrible, and the citizens of the Emerald City during Thank Goodness

In the musical the city is the setting for the song, One Short Day. Visitors and inhabitants of the Emerald City are required to wear the Emerald Glasses to protect them from being blinded by looking into the brilliant lights and sparkling emeralds of the city.

Baum's original Description

Inside the Emerald City. By W. W Denslow 1900.

"Even with eyes protected by the green spectacles, Dorothy and her friends were at first dazzled by the brilliancy of the wonderful City. The streets were lined with beautiful 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 window panes were of green glass; even the sky above the City had a green tint, and the rays of the sun were green. There were many people--men, women, and children--walking about, and these were all dressed in green clothes and had greenish skins. They 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 stood in the street, and Dorothy saw that everything in them was green. Green candy and green pop corn were offered for sale, as well as green shoes, green hats, and green clothes of all sorts. At one place a man was selling green lemonade, and when the children bought it Dorothy could see that they paid for it with green pennies." -The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900)