Once nicknamed, "Asbestos Town, USA," Blüdhaven started out as a whaling town, rapidly giving way to highly industrial sectors which then fell into urban decay as businesses collapsed or moved out of the area during the Depression. It's infamous for its somewhat rank odor and high crime rate. Approximately 33 minutes' drive from Gotham City, Nightwing moved here initially to help Batman solve a string of murders related to a thoroughly corrupt police force, only to remain there to carve out his own reputation away from either Batman or the Titans.
Blüdhaven first became a major setting in the DC Universe with the start of the Nightwing ongoing series. Nightwing goes to Blüdhaven in pursuit of the supervillain-turned-crime-boss, Blockbuster. Blockbuster proceeds to take over organized crime in the city. Soon Nightwing sets up shop in Blüdhaven, becoming its protector. Writers quickly introduced corrupt police officers, such as Detective Soames (later to become the villain Torque) and Chief Redhorn. In his civilian identity of Dick Grayson, Nightwing joined the force himself and fought the corruption from within.
After numerous plots in which the villains lead back directly, or indirectly, to Blockbuster, who was never completely defeated in any of these stories, writers built a more complex arc to bring resolution to the arc. Nightwing let the amoral vigilante Tarantula shoot and kill Blockbuster, although he could have stopped her. Suffering a crisis of conscience and wracked with guilt, Nightwing left Blüdhaven, apparently for good.
The 'Haven's littered with failed housing projects; monuments to wrongheaded Federal programs. They're mostly filled with crackheads and runaways. 'The Spine' is Blüdhaven's Main Street - the city's 'sin central' (i.e. the Red Light district.) It draws the merchant seamen and foreign sailors from the piers.
After the earthquake that struck Gotham City, rendering it a No Man's Land, Blüdhaven suddenly became prime real estate for people fleeing the city and looking to set up their new businesses there.
Destruction of the city
Later, the Secret Society of Super Villains drops Chemo, a gigantic, semi-intelligent pile of chemicals, on the city, causing a devastating explosion and toxic chemical fallout. The city is destroyed. Nightwing survives, since he was out of the city at the time of the attack, but the fates of other Blüdhaven-based heroes such as Tarantula are unknown. In Adventures of Superman #648, official sources set the resulting death toll from Chemo's assault on Blüdhaven at 100,068.
Superman and other superheroes such as the Teen Titans enter Blüdhaven to save people from the chemical fallout at the same time that Chemo tries to re-integrate. Superman fights the monster, surmising correctly that Chemo would regenerate more quickly if he were in battle. As Chemo regenerates, he draws the toxins out of the city, removing harmful fall-out and chemical waste. At the culmination of his battle with the regenerating Chemo, Superman hurls the giant into outer space.
The Battle for Blüdhaven
Following the Chemo disaster, the President declares a state of emergency and erects a wall around the city, as it is a threat to public health. Since Chemo was only chemically toxic, the nuclear fallout present in the city is a mystery. A new government-sanctioned super team codenamed "Freedom's Ring" takes charge of Blüdhaven, and orders the Teen Titans and all other metahumans to leave the city. One year later, "The Wall" has become a permanent structure, and displaced citizens compare the immediate area to the Gaza Strip. Many live in refugee camps that have sprung up around the wall while the superhero Monolith helps to keep the peace.
Within the city, Father Time the supervillain commands American forces, ordering his men to shoot and kill any heroes (referred to as insurgents) who enter the city. His forces also erect internment camps in which experiments are conducted upon American citizens. Also active in the city are the Atomic Knights, who run an 'underground railroad' in an attempt to smuggle citizens out of the city. The Society dispatch the Nuclear Legion (Geiger, Professor Radium, Reactron, Mister Nitro, Neutron ) to discover the nature of the radioactive leak inside the city, but in a conflict with Freedom's Ring and the Atomic Knights, one member of the Legion is killed. The Society sends the Nuclear Family to assist, and they locate the leak, but engage the Atomic Knights under the city in a struggle that merges into a larger battle between the Titans and SHADE agents.
Increasingly concerned by the developments, Robin leads the Titans back into the city. The Black Baron, once a drug lord who was mutated by the blast, now styles himself as the leader and ruler of the inner part of the city. In a fight with the Titans, Monolith and Firebrand, the Baron is punched into the next state by Monolith. SHADE agents engage the Titans and Lady Liberty is killed by Ravager, who then defeats the SHADE officers sent to retrieve the Titans. The Green Lantern Hal Jordan arrives to square off against Major Force, and Major Victory tells Force to stand down. Force refuses and beats Victory to death using Victory's own arm, after which Force's subordinates and some of the SHADE agents refuse to stand by him. Monolith is shattered in the fight and Firebrand escapes, following a voice that urges him to come to the Mississippi River.
The Atomic Knights place Captain Atom in a containment suit designed to limit his radiation output, similar to the armor worn by Monarch. Atom kills Major Force by draining all of the radioactive energy out of him and delivers a warning, telling anyone who wants to live to evacuate the city. After the evacuation, Captain Atom unleashes a nuclear explosion, destroying what is left of Blüdhaven and leaving a radioactive crater in its place. Meanwhile, the Atomic Knights retreat to an underground bunker known as Command-D. Later Brother Eye, in pursuit of Karate Kid, Una and his creator, the scientist Buddy Blank, claims Blüdhaven for himself, activating a new OMAC Army.
Blüdhaven has been the geographic focus of all issues of Final Crisis published to date. In issue #1, it is seen on T.V. as televangelist Godfrey Goode speaks about the inability of the government to do anything for the city. In issue #2, Dan Turpin, acting on a tip from the Mad Hatter, travels by bus to the city, where he sees the Atomic Knights, and is later led to the Command-D Bunker, which is revealed to be a new version of the Evil Factory, which Darkseid's minions are using as a base of operations on Earth.
Early in the series, the troubles of Blüdhaven are used as part of the new identities several of Darkseid's people have laid down. It's troubles are still the focus of TV broadcasts. Battles continue to be fought in its remnants, before and after the time compression in issue three.
- In The Lego Batman Movie, Barbara is stated to have studied crime-fighting in Blüdhaven.
- In The Batman, Selina mentions potentially moving to Blüdhaven.
- Blüdhaven appears briefly in the Justice League Unlimited television series episode "Grudge Match" as the backdrop for a meta-human fighting match organized by Roulette in which female Leaguers under mind control (including Fire, Wonder Woman and Black Canary) fight it out. A signboard at the city's entrance says "Welcome to Blüdhaven". In the same scene, Nightwing appears in a cameo.
- Although not shown, Blüdhaven was referenced in the Batman Beyond, Smallville, Arrow and Birds of Prey series.
- In Batman: Arkham City, many of the inmates state if they were ever to break out, they would try getting to Blüdhaven. And the backstory states many of the Falcone crime family fled to the city rather than risk going to Arkham. During the side quest "Cold Call Killer", Victor Zsasz mentions that he has a friend that helps him "bounce the signal through every relay from here to Blüdhaven".
- In DC Universe Online Bludhaven is one of the alert in the game where you and your group has to stop the chemical monster Chemo. Also the boss in the middle of the alert is Major Force.
- In Batman: Arkham Knight, DLC Harley Quinn story pack. Poison Ivy is being held prisoner by the Blüdhaven Police and Harley Quinn is sent by Scarecrow to retrieve her. Harley faces off against the police and battles Nightwing before escaping back to Gotham City.