The Emerald City is the social, political, military, and economic capital of the magical land of Oz, located at the very end of the yellow brick road. The city is also located in the exact center of Oz, and is the nation's largest settlement.
The city is a major location in the Wicked Years by author Gregory Maguire; a more mature reenvisioning of the 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
Before the series, the city was a hamlet known as Nubby Meadows, located near the ancient burial ground of Open Tombs. However, Pastorius, the Ozma Regent, renamed the hamlet Emerald City and declared it the capital of united Oz.
In Wicked, under the regime of the Wizard, the city is seen to have many prosperous and wealthy citizens who wear lavish clothing and costumes, and the city itself is also filled with splendid gardens with marble water fountains, beautiful streets set with glistening emeralds, and elaborate and luxurious houses, shops, markets and palaces of polished green marble. However, under the facade of being a dazzling city, it is a much darker and dangerous place. There are less attractive streets filled with crime and poverty, consisting of unpleasant people, such as prostitutes, drug-dealers/addicts, thieves, thugs and even sections of assassins who are involved in top secret conspiracies. There is even an underground political prison called Southstairs.
Elphaba Thropp travels to the city before becoming an Animal's rights activist and secret assassin plotting to secretly undermine the Wizard's rule. Elphaba and Fiyero Tigelaar are reunited again in the city after their education at Shiz University and start a clandestine love affair. The affair eventually leads to Fiyero's tragic murder at the hands of the secret police known as the Gale Force.
Elphaba's teenage son named Liir accompanied Dorothy Gale and her companions to see the Wizard after Elphaba was killed by a bucket of water. He also goes to see Glinda who resides in a beautiful apartment in the upper class section of the city. Liir eventually enrolls in the Emerald City's Home Guard and ventures into Southstairs, the underground prison beneath the city.
Brrr, the Cowardly Lion, lived in the Emerald City temporarily after Dorothy left Oz, before abandoning high society and living in the forest and jungles 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 Royal Governor of Oz until Ozma is old enough to take the throne.
In the Musical
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.
The city is a magnificent place, being described as stately, statuesque, imposing and even intimidating. The Emerald City is completely surrounded by an extremely high and handsome wall said to stand 50 feet high and is described as being incredibly immense, thick and of the finest green marble, polished smooth and studded with giant sparkling emeralds that glisten and dazzle in the sun ever so brightly. If care is not taken, it could easily blind someone.
Baum states that there are exactly 9,654 buildings and roughly 57,318 residents who reside in the Emerald City. Inside the buildings are mostly made of marble, glass, and solid gold and silver. Every establishment is decorated with thousands of emeralds.