In the NovelsEdit
Before the series, the city was a hamlet known as Nubby Meadows near an ancient burial ground of Open Tombs, but Pastorius, the Ozma Regent, renamed it the Emerald City and declared it the capital of united Oz.
In Wicked, ever since the Wizard has taken over, the city is a much darker and dangerous place compared to the city described in the original 1900's book or the one in the 1939 MGM movie musical adaption. It does 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, 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 prison called Southstairs.Elphaba Thropp travels to the city before becoming an Animal's rights activist and secret Assassin who secretly undermine the the Wizard's rule. Elphaba and Prince Fiyero are reunited again in the city after college at Shiz and start a clandestine love affair. The affair eventually leads to Fiyero's tragic murder.
Elphaba's teenage son named Liir accompanied Dorothy Gale and her companions to see the Wizard after Elphaba is killed by 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 there and ventures into Southstairs which is an underground prison under 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's younger brother named Shell Thropp becomes Emperor Apostle of Oz. Eventually the long lost Princess Ozma is found and Brrr the Cowardly Lion is made the governor of Oz until Ozma is old enough to take the throne.
In The Wonderful Wizard of OzEdit
When a little orphan farm girl named Dorothy Gale is swept away to the land of Oz in a Kansas cyclone with her pet dog named Toto, Dorothy is determined to find a way back home again. Thus, embarking on a journey along the yellow brick road to seek out the lands most prominent figure known as the great Wizard of Oz, who rules over the land and lives in it's all green city, which was built in his honor. He is believed to be the only one powerful enough to grant Dorothy's wish and send her back to Kansas.
The city is a magnificent place, being described as stately, statuesque, imposing and even intimidating. The equal of which has never been seen or discovered, (even in other enchanted realms and fairylands.) The Emerald City is completely surrounded by an extremely high and handsome wall. This wall is 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 is mostly made of marble, glass, and solid gold and silver. Every establishment is decorated with thousands of emeralds, any one of which would be the pride and glory of a King's crown.
In the MusicalEditIn 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.
In the book, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, this is a part of The Wizard's con to make people believe that the city is green when it is not. In the musical, like in the 1939 film and, to a degree, the book, the city is obviously green and the glasses are quite superfluous.