State: Missouri (originally Ohio*)
First Appearance: Showcase #4 (September–October 1956)
First Appearance in Current Series: Flash (second series) #37 (April 1990)
See Also: Twin Cities, Flash Museum, Keystone City
Geography and Business
Central City is located on western edge of Missouri, about 30–40 miles north of Kansas City, and across the Missouri River from Keystone City. (See note below on Central City’s location.) In fact, in the DCU, Central City may be larger than Kansas City. Roughly 12–15 years ago it became known as the home of the second Flash, Barry Allen.
Central City experienced an incredible economic boom during the years that Keystone City was kept out of phase from the rest of the world. It became a hub for architecture, arts, business and industry, “the gem of the Midwest.” But in the ten years since Keystone re-opened, factories and businesses started moving back to Keystone. Today, Keystone City is the more prosperous of the two neighbors.
Still, Central City does have several things Keystone does not. First and foremost would be a top-notch theater district rivaling New York’s. Central City University and Central City Medical School both lie (not surprisingly) within the city limits, and of course there is the Flash Museum, built during Barry Allen’s career and still run by actor Dexter Myles. Central City at least used to house a branch of S.T.A.R. Labs, but it may have moved to Keystone.
Around the same time the Flash appeared in Central City, so did the costumed criminals. Often these were men who had the intelligence to design and build elaborate equipment using principles unknown to the scientific community who were inexplicably more interested in using their inventions to rob banks than heading down to the patent office and waiting for the royalty checks to come in.
In fact, the presence of the Flash not only directly subdued these rogues, but managed to trap them into a sort of game. They were so consumed with beating the Flash that not only did they squander their potential for destruction, but most of them retired after he died.
Perhaps not coincidentally, rogues began appearing around the time the Network his believed to have begun operations. A high-tech black market operating beneath Central City’s sister city, the Network brought both money and high-tech criminals into the twin cities area. Because of the money, those few higher-ups who knew of it turned a blind eye, never telling the police or the cities’ super-speed guardians.
Mayfair Games’ The Atlas of the DC Universe (1990), written as a sourcebook for the DC Heroes role-playing game, has additional information about Central City which may or may not be accurate in the current version of the region’s history. I will, however, summarize it here.
According to this source, Central City was founded as a stopover point for west-going cattle drives, then grew when the transcontinental railroad was built through the center of town. By the end of the 19th Century it was a major city rivaling Chicago, and experienced a second boom after World War I.
Mountains flank the city to the northwest and southeast, with Granite Peak National Forest to the northeast. Immediately west, of course, is the river and Keystone City.
The article then goes on to describe the various neighborhoods, from the trendy Brookfield Heights to the ordinary tract homes of Danville (home of Barry and Iris) to the working-class neighborhoods of Lawrence Hills and Leawood and the affluent Windsor Heights area, which considers Beverly Hills a step down. (One might assume the Rathaways lived in Windsor Heights, although recent issues place their estate an hour north of the city.) The Flash Museum, as well as the police station, courthouse, and city hall, are placed in the City Center.
The Atlas of the DC Universe lists Central City’s population in 1990 as being 750,000.Text by Kelson Vibber. Do not copy without permission.
- Area Map: The National Atlas of the United States of America (modified, of course)
- City Map: The Atlas of the DC Universe (1990), published by Mayfair Games
- Atlas of the DC Universe (1990)
- Flash Secret Files and Origins 2010 (May 2010)
- The Flash (first series) (1959–1985)
- The Flash (third series) (2010—)
* Central City was originally located in Ohio, at one point placed where Athens, Ohio exists in the real world (Flash v.1 #228, 1974). When the Crisis placed it across the river from Keystone City, the two cities were placed in Kansas and Missouri, with Mayfair Games’ The Atlas of the DC Universe (1990) providing more detail. Recently the pre-Crisis location of Central City in Ohio has been used in a few places, but Flash v.2 #188 (2002) has definitively set Keystone and Central City in Kansas & Missouri. See The Twin Cities for more information on this issue.
- Infinite City Crisis at The Absorbascon (humor piece on just how big Central City is)