Gotham was founded in 1938 in New York City by Harry Gerstel, a devotee of well-known architect and lighting pioneer Richard Kelly. Gerstel was driven by the convergence of two significant trends of the day. One was the advancing technology of electric lamps, which were quickly replacing gas lamps. The other was the growing international influence of modernist architects, whose preference for minimalist interiors called for light sources that were hidden from view.
From the beginning the company's focus on architectural integration, optical performance, reliability and innovative manufacturing processes resulted in Gotham quickly becoming one of the most respected names in architectural lighting. The firm's working relationship with Richard Kelly's office established an extraordinarily high standard in downlighting that became Gotham's trademark, and has served as its heritage ever since.