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  #1  
Old Posted Feb 4, 2020, 7:31 PM
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What is the origin of your hometown's name?

Not sure if this has been a specific topic on here...

Always interesting to learn why a city, town, village is named what it is. What's the meaning/history of your hometown's name?


I grew up in both Erie and Pittsburgh:

Erie - named for Lake Erie, which is named for the Erie or Eriez or Erielhonan Indians who occupied the territory from SW NY to Northern OH. Meaning "cat" or "people of the cat". The French referred to them as the "Nation du Chat". Area was referred to as Erie by the British.

Area was originally referred to as Presque Isle, meaning "almost island", by the French who first explored the area in the 1670s, but did not establish a fort and settlement there until the early 1750s. Formally named Erie in 1790s. Presque Isle is a much cooler name than Erie

Pittsburgh - named by the British General William Forbes for England Prime Minister William Pitt - Earl of Chatham, after capturing French Fort Duquesne in 1758. Forbes was a Scot, so the original pronunciation is "Pittsboro" or more likely "Pittsburrah".

The French Duquesne (du Chene, du Cheney, du Chesne, du Quesney), meaning "of the oak", was named for the Marquis Du Quesne, Governor General of New France. Again, Duquesne being a cooler name than Pittsburgh


Place of (part time) residence:

Miami - named for the Mayaimi or Maimi Indians who lived near Lake Mayaimi (lake Okeechobee), meaning "big water".

Area was referred to as Biscayne or Vizcaino (meaning "Basque) by the Spanish as early as the mid-1500s; and then known as Biscayne Country until the 1830s when the US established Fort Dallas (named after naval commander A.J. Dallas, one of the prominent Pennsylvania Dallas family, which also included Sec of Treasury under Madison - A.J. Dallas Sr. and Vice President under Polk - George Dallas (who Dallas TX, a former city I called homee, is named for incidentally). The fort and surrounding village was built on plantation property, which the owner called Miami.

Last edited by pj3000; Feb 5, 2020 at 1:17 AM.
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  #2  
Old Posted Feb 4, 2020, 7:45 PM
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Chicago:

Quote:
At its first appearance in records by explorers, the Chicago area was inhabited by a number of Algonquian peoples, including the Mascouten and Miami. The name "Chicago" is derived from a French rendering of the Native American word shikaakwa, known to botanists as Allium tricoccum, from the Miami-Illinois language. The first known reference to the site of the current city of Chicago as "Checagou" was by Robert de LaSalle around 1679 in a memoir.[1] Henri Joutel, in his journal of 1688, noted that the wild garlic, called "chicagoua", grew abundantly in the area.
source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Chicago



so, from the Algonquian "Shikaakwa" (the name for the wild garlic that grew abundantly in the area), to the French "Checagou", to the English "Chicago".

when the federal government built the first frontier military outpost here in 1803, they named it "Fort Dearborn", in honor of Henry Dearborn, the US Secretary of War at the time.

I'm glad that the Algonquian-derived "Chicago" name stuck around instead of "Dearborn".

"Sweet Home, Dearborn" just doesn't have the same ring to it.
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Last edited by Steely Dan; Feb 4, 2020 at 11:15 PM.
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  #3  
Old Posted Feb 4, 2020, 7:45 PM
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Hometown: Detroit is derived from the French word for "strait". The original name of the settlement was "le détroit du Lac Erie."

Place of residence: Named after Olde York.
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  #4  
Old Posted Feb 4, 2020, 7:50 PM
mrnyc mrnyc is offline
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what is your social security number, your pet's name, your first school and your mother's maiden name?
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  #5  
Old Posted Feb 4, 2020, 7:52 PM
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https://images.fineartamerica.com

Louis IX

funny how a city with such an old world name become such an important portal of manifest destiny in the new.
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  #6  
Old Posted Feb 4, 2020, 8:03 PM
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Hometown:

Eagle River. It was built by a river. And there were many eagles nesting in trees along the river.


Current town:

Boise:

Quote:
After trekking for weeks through dry, rocky desert, French explorers reached a high point overlooking a lush river valley full of trees. Overwhelmed by the sight, they yelled "Les bois! Les bois!" ("The woods! The woods!").

Another common belief is the name was coined by French Canadian fur trappers in the 1920s. Surrounded by high desert, the lush river oasis became a landmark, referred to as "La rivière boisée", or "the wooded river.
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Last edited by Boisebro; Feb 4, 2020 at 9:09 PM.
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  #7  
Old Posted Feb 4, 2020, 8:04 PM
iheartthed iheartthed is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steely Dan View Post
I'm glad that the Algonquian-derived "Chicago" name stuck instead of "Dearborn".

"Sweet Home, Dearborn" just doesn't have the same ring to it.
That turn of events allowed a suburb of Detroit to become the most famous Dearborn in the world.
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  #8  
Old Posted Feb 4, 2020, 8:17 PM
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Hometown: Chosen from a hat and named after Utica, Tunisia. In fact, a lot of cities in Upstate NY were named after classical cities; Rome, Syracuse, Manlius, Cicero, Troy, etc.

Place of residence:

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Old Posted Feb 4, 2020, 8:24 PM
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probably the best city name derivation scene in any movie, ever:



Video Link




Wayne Campbell: So, do you come to Milwaukee often?

Alice Cooper: Well, I'm a regular visitor here, but Milwaukee has certainly had its share of visitors. The French missionaries and explorers were coming here as early as the late 1600s to trade with the Native Americans.

Pete: In fact, isn't "Milwaukee" an Indian name?

Alice Cooper: Yes, Pete, it is. Actually, it's pronounced "mill-e-wah-que" which is Algonquin for "the good land."

Wayne Campbell: I was not aware of that.
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The time of our time has come and gone, I fear we been waiting too long
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  #10  
Old Posted Feb 4, 2020, 8:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steely Dan View Post
probably the best city name derivation scene in any movie, ever:
with the possible exception of this one:



Video Link




Ron Burgundy: Discovered by the Germans in 1904, they named it San Diego, which of course in German means a whale’s vagina.

Veronica Corningstone: No, there’s no way that’s correct.

Ron Burgundy: I’m sorry, I was trying to impress you. I don’t know what it means. I’ll be honest, I don’t think anyone knows what it means anymore. Scholars maintain that the translation was lost hundreds of years ago.

Veronica Corningstone: Doesn’t it mean Saint Diego?

Ron Burgundy: No. No.

Veronica Corningstone: No, that’s – that’s what it means. Really.

Ron Burgundy: Agree to disagree.
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The world that we used to know, People tell me it don't turn no more
The places we used to go, Familiar faces that ain't smilin' like before
The time of our time has come and gone, I fear we been waiting too long
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  #11  
Old Posted Feb 4, 2020, 8:42 PM
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Hometown: Mesa, AZ: Named by Mormon pioneers after the mesa on which the townsite sits. Other community names for settlements now subsumed within Mesa include Alma, Lehi and Stringtown.

Currently work in: Tempe, AZ: named for the Vale of Tempe in Greece, which played a role in Greek history and mythology.

Both of which are suburbs of: Phoenix, AZ: named for the mythological creature to reflect the fact that the American settlement was "rising from the ashes" of the Hohokam people that lived in the area up to the ~1400s. Rejected name: Stonewall, after Stonewall Jackson.

We have early settler Darrell Duppa to thank for our classical pretensions, as he's credited with suggesting both the Tempe and Phoenix names.
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Old Posted Feb 4, 2020, 8:46 PM
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San Francisco, originally named Yerba Buena, eventually adopted the name of its mission church, Mission San Francisco de Asis.

Quote:
A . . . group of soldiers, . . . accompanied by settlers, arrived in June 1776, led by the Spanish explorer Juan Bautista De Anza (having trekked up to central California from the Santa Cruz Valley of southern Arizona and northern Mexico). One of De Anza's officers, José Joaquín Moraga, was given the task of building a Spanish mission, Mission San Francisco de Asís, and a military fort, the Presidio of San Francisco. Moraga chose a location approximately halfway between the two sites to build housing for the workers, which became known as Yerba Buena. A supply ship arrived about two months later and the settlers began building.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yerba_Buena,_California

Later, the church was subsumed into the string of missions being established up and down the California coast by Father Junipero Serra.

Quote:
Mission San Francisco de Asís is the 6th mission established under Father Serra and one of the most visited due to its location in San Francisco. The mission itself was completed in 1791, and it is one of the oldest intact missions, having survived many earthquakes to be still standing today:



https://californiathroughmylens.com/...cisco-de-asis/
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  #13  
Old Posted Feb 4, 2020, 9:02 PM
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Portland, England -> Portland, Maine -> Portland, Oregon

Fun fact: the two original settlers of Portland, Oregon, flipped a coin to name the city after their own hometowns. If the other guy had won, it would be Boston, Oregon.
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  #14  
Old Posted Feb 4, 2020, 9:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steely Dan View Post

I'm glad that the Algonquian-derived "Chicago" name stuck around instead of "Dearborn".

"Sweet Home, Dearborn" just doesn't have the same ring to it.
I heard my momma cry

I heard her pray the night Dearborn died
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  #15  
Old Posted Feb 4, 2020, 9:25 PM
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To celebrate the U.S. centennial, some pioneers traveling through the dense pine forests of Northern Arizona decided that to honor America, they needed to whittle a pole out of pine on which to raise the American flag.

Hence, Flagstaff.
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  #16  
Old Posted Feb 4, 2020, 9:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Buckeye Native 001 View Post
To celebrate the U.S. centennial, some pioneers traveling through the dense pine forests of Northern Arizona decided that to honor America, they needed to whittle a pole out of pine on which to raise the American flag.

Hence, Flagstaff.
Now tell me about Show Low.
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  #17  
Old Posted Feb 4, 2020, 9:43 PM
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Some guy won a card game for the title/deed to the town by betting with the lowest hand possible. The main drag through town is "Deuce of Clubs" in honor of the winning hand.
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Old Posted Feb 4, 2020, 10:09 PM
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At various times Phoenix was called simply "Indian Villages", they also tried to name it after Stonewall Jackson for a time.

What it was called hundreds of years ago? No idea something in Hohokam/Anasazi and there were a couple of different settlements across time.

Quote:
By 1868, a small colony had formed approximately four miles east of the present city. Swilling's Mill became the new name of the area. It was then changed to Helling Mill, after which it became Mill City, and years later, East Phoenix. Swilling, having been a confederate soldier, wanted to name the new settlement Stonewall after Stonewall Jackson. Others suggested the name Salina, but neither name suited the inhabitants. It was Darrell Duppa who suggested the name Phoenix, inasmuch as the new town would spring from the ruins of a former civilization. That is the accepted derivation of our name.
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  #19  
Old Posted Feb 5, 2020, 12:24 AM
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There are two theories for St. John's.

There's the romantic theory - that John Cabot sailed into St. John's Harbour on the Feast of St. John the Baptist in 1497 and, voila.

And there's the real story - that Portuguese sailors named it Sao Joao in the 1500s after a similarly-shaped harbour in the Basque country.

At least it means more or less the same thing. Other parts of the city, and other communities on the island, got bastardized.

Take Cape Spear, just outside St. John's. It was original Cabo Esperanza (Cape of Good Hope). Then Cap d'Espoir (Cape of Hope). Then, finally, the English bastardized it to Cape Spear.

That's not as funny as Bay Despair (Baie d'Espoir).

There's even one town here whose name was bastardized over the centuries without changing hands and languages. Brickhouse became, over the years, Brigus.

There are a lot of random little towns in Newfoundland with these convoluted naming histories. Take Carbonear for example. From Wikipedia:

Quote:
The town of Carbonear is one of the oldest permanent settlements in Newfoundland and among the oldest European settlements in North America. The harbour appears on early Portuguese maps as early as the late 1500s as Cabo Carvoeiro (later anglicized as Cape Carviero). There are a number of different theories about the origin of the town's name. Possibly from the Spanish word "carbonera" (charcoal kiln); Carbonera, a town near Venice, Italy where John Cabot (Giovanni Caboto) had been resident; or from a number of French words, most likely "Carbonnier" or "Charbonnier," meaning "coalman."
Or the St. John's neighbourhood of Quidi Vidi (where my mother's family comes from). They say, today, that it's bastardized Italian for "Beautiful Sight" - but from its founding in the early 1600s, I doubt an Italian has set foot there.
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  #20  
Old Posted Feb 5, 2020, 2:10 AM
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My hometown is named after a guy named Sam. See photo of bad sculpture upthread.

As for my current city of residence, according to Wikipedia: "In 1691, a group of Spanish explorers and missionaries came upon the river and Payaya settlement on June 13, the feast day of St. Anthony of Padua. They named the place and river "San Antonio" in his honor."

It would be another 27 years before the Alamo Mission was built and another 146 years before the city was incorporated.

Last edited by bilbao58; Feb 5, 2020 at 2:25 AM.
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