No, Not That One

On November 17, 2011 · 22 Comments

I was trying to find something on Buffalo, New York recently. I can’t remember exactly what it was although it’s not actually important to the discussion. A random search led me to another Buffalo, a town with the same name in Wyoming. I considered it somewhat strange. When one thinks of Buffalo as a city, one generally thinks of the place in western New York on Lake Erie with the football team. I suppose if one wishes to find the animal then Wyoming might be a better option (bison really, but whatever), although not so much as a town.

I started wondering if I could find other examples of towns completely overshadowed by more famous locations sharing the same name. I don’t mean places like London in Ontario, Manhattan in Kansas or Paris in Texas. Instead, I wanted to discover much greater extremes. Places like this:

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What, you don’t recognize Los Angeles, um, Texas? Population 20? That’s what I mean. Wouldn’t it be completely ridiculous, even outrageous, to try to compare this Los Angeles to the one in California? The thought of a Hollywood movie star living in that trailer amuses me way more than it should. Yet, it does have a similarity. The Texas State Historical Society say "It was named Los Angeles to encourage comparison with the climate enjoyed by the California city" in 1923. I’ll concede that one tiny tenuous point although I believe the comparison probably ends there. I’d say the same is probably true for the Beverly Hills in NSW, Australia too.

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Kolkata in West Bengal, India, anchors a metropolitan area of more than 14 million people. It has a long history including service as the capital of British India and it played a key role in India’s independence. Kolkata was known previously as Calcutta, and that former name spread to various remote corners of the British Empire. I can’t imagine that Calcutta, Belize will ever be confused with Kolkata, India. The town in Belize, as you probably already surmised, arrived in Central America along with natives of India who worked plantations that were once part of British Honduras.

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I’ve never been to Manila, the one in the Philippines, or this one located between Chapmanville and Turtle Creek in West Virginia. I can’t wrap my mind around the possibility of a large Filipino community living in Appalachian coal country and of course it never happened. Mountain folk don’t generally speak Tagalog. Yet, this Manila in West Virginia is allegedly named for the one in the Philippines. It might help to understand that the town traces its founding to about 1900. Thoughts of the Spanish-American War and the resounding U.S victory at the Battle of Manila Bay were still fresh in people’s minds.

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I also wanted to put a special focus on Moscow, East Ayrshire, Scotland. A gentleman recently sent an email message requesting more Scottish examples, so here you go. "The name is thought to be a corruption of ‘Moss-hall’ or ‘Moss-haw’ but its spelling was formalised in 1812 to mark Napoleon’s retreat from Moscow."

Here are a few others. I’m sure the vast 12MC audience can find many more.

Yes, I take special requests. I can’t guarantee that I can always respond right away or with something meaningful but I’ll give it a go.


On November 17, 2011 · 22 Comments

22 Responses to “No, Not That One”

  1. Matt says:

    It’s not an exact match, but a really good example is “New Rome, Ohio.” It was an incorporated village of 60 people as of the 2000 census. But really, the “village” was a scam. It included a few blocks of a major road outside Columbus. It employed like a dozen police officers, who would ticket anyone going slightly faster than the speed limit or doing anything else that was technically against the traffic code. The money raised was then siphoned off by the council members and their families, which was presumably most of the population. The state unilaterally dissolved the village a few years ago, the only time I know of that happening in Ohio.

  2. Mikhail says:

    Although Russia is not known for “borrowed” citynames, we have one quite interesting cluster on Southern Urals (Chelyabinsk region).

    here’s Paris:
    NW from Paris is Fère-Champenoise:
    NE from Paris there’s Leipzig:
    Russian Breda has mutated to quasi-plural form of Bredy:

    Also one can find Katzbah, Cesme, Varna etc.

    The reason for this naming is that these lands has been settled and developed after Napoleonic wars and a lot of lots 🙂 have been granted to soldiers and cossacks. They’ve named their new settlements after cities they captured and battles they fought.

    The pattern of town naming after battles was supported by following settlers, that’s how Russian-Turkish wars’ era names (Cesme, Navarin, Varna) or Russian-Japanese war names (Port-Arthur) have appeared.

    Greetings from Moscow (the original one)

  3. Mr Burns says:

    Just four miles from my hometown is Louisville, Kansas, population 188. This shot is of what used to be “downtown”.

    View Larger Map

    Besides size, the difference from the one in Kentucky is that around here we pronounce the “s” in the name, so it sounds like “Lewis-ville”.

    It’s a fun topic. I’m sure I’ll think of more. 🙂

  4. Bill Harris says:

    There’s Houston, Delaware, named after a prominent local family that were cousins to the more famous Colonel Houston. This branch of the family, though, pronounced the name as “HOUSE-ton”.

    It’s 370 residents are considerably fewer than the cousin’s city in Texas.

  5. Pat says:

    Milwaukie, Oregon, near Portland, was named after my hometown, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. At the time the town in Oregon was founded, the one in in Wisconsin was spelled with “ie” at the end. Later the spelling of the Wisconsin city was changed from “ie” to “ee”, but the one in Oregon did not change. Here I am in Milwaukie, OR:

    Other small towns named after big cities: Minneapolis, Kansas, and St. Paul, Alaska.

    Also in or near Wisconsin, there are Menomonie, WI, Menomonee Falls, WI, and Menominee, MI (across from Marinette, WI).

  6. wangi says:

    What about the opposite? Where the original is some tiny desolate spot which would never be confused by the bigger, newer upstart?

    For starters – Calgary:

  7. biff says:

    In my home state, there is a Prague, but it is pronounced with the long A: “praygue.” Until I was in high school I had no idea there was a “real” Prague somewhere.

  8. Joe says:

    I’m sure every state has their fair share, but I will share those of Missouri:
    (City) : (Population)

    Cleveland, MO: 661
    Beverly Hills, MO: 574
    Atlanta, MO: 385
    Bakersfield, MO: 246
    Laredo, MO: 198
    Birmingham, MO: 183
    Alexandria, MO: 159
    Jacksonville, MO: 151
    Dover, MO: 103
    Newark, MO: 94

    There are several others in Missouri (Paris, Houston, Warsaw, Billings among others) but each are large enough to be excluded from the aim of this post.

  9. Pfly says:

    Hey, I’m from Buffalo (NY)! I figure you know it wasn’t named for buffalo as in bison? There’s a little New Buffalo, MI, apparently named for NY’s Buffalo–probably back in the day when Buffalo was a much more notable city. It’s downward path began about 1840, I reckon, when railroads began to out-compete the Erie Canal. The steel industry blipped it up again for a while, until that totally collapsed around the time I was born. Also, Buffalo, WY, may be rather small, but for Wyoming it is pretty significant. I mean, what is there is NE WY? Sheridan, Gillette, Casper, and Buffalo–not much else!

    Anyway, on your main topic, some ideas that come to mind: Vancouver (the one in WA is something like 70 years older than the BC one, and still annoyed at the Canadian upstart!), Portland (OR over ME), Salem (not sure if the OR one comes to American mind’s more readily than the MA one, but it probably does in PNW minds at least, and certainly in OR minds), Las Vegas (the NM one is much older than the NV one), and personally, having lived in NYC, I was always amused at Texas having named a city after Houston Street, and then mispronouncing it! 😉

  10. Aaron says:

    There’s a few in NY/PA, Milan PA, Geneva NY, etc.

  11. Peter says:

    When I was living in Connecticut I had a few relatives who lived in the small but upscale town of Washington. It was often a source of confusion for them, or those who referred to them (“No, we’re going to visit my cousin in Washington Connecticut, not Washington DC”). One or two of the relatives, and I’m sure other townspeople, avoided the confusion by referring to their town of residence as Washington Depot, which was the neighborhood name for the (very small) downtown area.

    Place name confusion is rare on Long Island, where I now live, as most of the communities have more or less unique names. My town of Medford has two somewhat larger namesakes, in Oregon and Massachusetts, but neither other Medford is large enough to cause any real confusion. Southampton has a much larger namesake in Britain, however the Long Island Southampton is sufficiently well-known to prevent any misunderstandings.

  12. Thias says:

    I just found out about Strasbourg, Saskatchewan ( and its 800 inhabitants (opposed to the 275,000 living in Strasbourg, France).
    The funny thing is that the name of the city was originally Strassburg, as it was created and named by Germans, in the end of the 19th century, when Strasbourg (Europe) was still German and spelt Strassburg.
    But as the French took back Alsace in 1918, and renamed it Strasbourg, the people in Sasketchewan decided the name of their town should be changed as well to the French spelling!

  13. Jasper says:

    Not a city, but an important mountain: Etna, WY –,_Wyoming

  14. Fredrik says:

    Hi, this is a great site! A lot of interesting stuff! Sometimes I like to compare my latitude with America, and find that the latitude of my house lies only 3 km north of where Alaska start digging west, and north of Greenland’s southernmost point (which I find very amusing). You guessed my city? Anyway, when reading this article, I was thinking about mentioning Christmas Island, Kiribati. I can see you mentioned London, but the (oddly shaped) island also contains Paris and Poland. And if you look closely on London you find Tennesse Primary School. Funny island for sure!

    • I was curious so I looked at your IP address: it identifies to Ås, Norway (just south of Oslo). 🙂

      • Fredrik says:

        You’re in the right country. I’ve been to Ås once, but I am from Bergen, Norway! It just came to my mind that we actually have two small parts of the city named after American states (Florida and Montana), which kind of relates it to the article!

  15. Fredrik says:

    Alright, hope it works. It’s the first time I’ve shared a map from google maps. I’ve pinned out the locations of Montana and Florida in Bergen.

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