Sunday, November 22, 2020

The Meaning of City Names

Town Names is a new interactive map which explains the meaning of city and town names in the USA.

If you mouse-over a town or city name on the Town Names map you can learn how the town originally got its name.The 225 most populated towns and cities in the United States are shown on the map. The map also reveals the year when each of the cities was founded. You can use the year buttons (running down the left-hand side of the map) to filter the towns and cities shown on the map by year of foundation.

During my research for this map I learned that there are far fewer towns in the United States named for European towns and cities than I had previously thought. Many American towns and cities appear to be named for nearby or local natural features or for an individual (often someone important in early U.S. history). 

Lots of U.S.cities have changed names since their foundation. One very common reason for a name change appears to have been because of the U.S. Post Office. It appears when towns wanted to open a Post Office they were often told the post-office couldn't be named after the town - because a post-office with that name already existed. Many towns therefore changed their name to something more original so that the post-office could have the town name.

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