Presidential Places

On November 21, 2010 · 23 Comments

The mailbag continues to overflow with great topics submitted by readers. It’s wonderful to receive this kind of feedback. I hope to create articles around many of your observations and recommendations as I find the right context and opportunity.[1]

Recently I heard from Jason J. who wanted to know if I’d been aware of a particularly interesting presidential trifecta in Illinois. I hadn’t but it’s certainly unusual enough to fit within the Twelve Mile Circle collection of geo-oddities. Let’s take a closer look.

  1. Adams County, IL was founding in 1825, and named for John Quincy Adams, the newly-elected president of the United States.
  2. The county seat and primary town took the name Quincy at that same time, and for the same reason.
  3. To complete the theme, they named the central gathering point within town, John Square.

What a bizarre tribute: John (square) Quincy (county seat) Adams (county), Illinois. I’ve highlighted the location using Mapquest, because Google Maps still doesn’t draw county lines (and our gentle encouragement hasn’t produced any results).

What if we colonized the moon and decided to name a few more county seats after presidential middle names. We could end up with places in addition to Quincy like Henry, Knox, Simpson, Birchard, Abram, Alan, Howard, Gamaliel, Clark, Delano, S (with or without the period), David, Fitzgerald, Baines, Milhous, Rudolph, Earl, Wilson, Herbert, Jefferson, Walker or Hussein. I wouldn’t mind something like Wilson or Howard, but Milhous or Gamaliel might be a tad more difficult for the postmaster to decipher. Living in "S" might be fun.

I guess at some point the cuteness factor wore-off because they renamed it Washington Square somewhere along the way. It’s listed as Washington Park on various online maps but I’ve done a bit of checking and I’m satisfied that it’s the same place. As an aside, I noticed another interesting feature in Quincy: their main street isn’t Main Street, it’s Maine Street, which they tie in within a larger state-named theme. Those founding fathers of Adams County were clever and they had an unusual sense of humor. Good for them.

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We can still try to force-fit the John Quincy Adams naming convention into place even though John Square no longer exists. Papa John’s Pizza and Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sandwiches both have places in Quincy. There’s also a Long John Silver’s but I think that’s pushing it a bit too far.

Thanks for the tip, Jason!

Jason also wondered if similar situations existed elsewhere so I decided to see if I could return the favor by heading to the maps — like I ever need an excuse to do that.

I think I found a winner, by George.

View Larger Map

There is a town called George in the state of Washington. That’s right, I found George, Washington. I know, a painful pun, right? Some of the streets even have cherry-themed names in tribute to the old folklore I suspect.

It gets even better. Head a few miles northeast and you’ll see George and Martha Lakes. Husband and wife are memorialized by adjacent geographic features.

I also found a few other presidential oddities but not nearly of the same magnitude.

  • Jefferson Co., Florida has its county seat in Monticello, named after Thomas Jefferson’s famous homestead.
  • There is a town in Texas called Nixon, although not in honor of the former president. It had another coincidental naming, with Franklin and Roosevelt Avenues running in parallel. Sadly it didn’t have a Delano Ave. between them (even a D. Street would have sufficed) or it would have made a complete FDR. Nixon and FDR would have been an odd juxtaposition. Too bad; another missed opportunity.
  • Lincoln Co., Colorado has a town called Punkin Center. I mention that only because I like silly places with kooky names.

Are there other counties named for presidents with towns (bonus points for county seats) or other geographic features named for things relating to that specific president?

Tangent Alert: I wonder why I’ve seen an unusual spike in traffic related to the lowest elevation in Nepal this morning. I have a nice page on that topic but it seems odd to have two hundred people wanting an answer to the same basic question, all at the same time. There must be another geo-trivia contest going on or maybe a homework assignment? Strange.

[1]I haven’t forgotten about your request, Katy! It’s a more difficult task than I imagined but I’ll find something interesting with a little more searching.

On November 21, 2010 · 23 Comments

23 Responses to “Presidential Places”

  1. Katy says:

    As a former Quincy resident I believe it was named John Square in honor of John Wood, a 19th-century IL governor from the Quincy area. I could be wrong about that though. There is a nice little statue of him in the SW corner of Washington Park.

    (Thank you too for not forgetting about my request!)

    • It sounds reasonable and Wikipedia has certainly been found to offer theories as fact once we’ve dug into it further. Maybe we’ll have satisfy ourselves with Papa John‘s of Quincy, Adams Co., IL?!? 😉

      • Joe says:

        Believe it or not, there is yet another Presidential reference to Washington (John) Square in Quincy, (Adams Co) IL. It was the site of one of seven debates between future president Lincoln and Stephen Douglas. Not only was this series of debates a precursor to our country’s struggle to end slavery, but it also serves as the root of our current debate format (per wikipedia, so take with grain of salt).

        In addition, President Clinton has visited the park/square and President Obama spoke from the city’s convention center which is located about 3 blocks south of the park.

        And finally, one more connection to the town’s namesake. The town’s primary newspaper is named the Herald Whig. John Quincy Adams was a founding member of the Whig party. I’m not 100% sure, but I am guessing there originally was a Quincy Whig newspaper before it merged with other papers to eventually become the Herald Whig.

  2. Jason says:

    I did find that there is at least one more President/county combo, in west Kansas: Ulysses is the county seat of Grant County.,+kansas&oe=utf-8&client=firefox-a&ie=UTF8&hq=&hnear=Ulysses,+Grant,+Kansas&gl=us&ei=O1HpTPLOJYy-sQO4o4yxCw&oi=geocode_result&ved=0CCQQ8gEwAA&z=13

    Notably, nearby is Greeley County where the biggest town is Horace but the county seat is named Horace. I imagine the western states will be the best place to look for other pairings.

    About the naming of the park in Quincy, I used to live in the area too and was always told that it was for the pres. But yeah, Wikipedia is a rumor mill, so I looked further and found this from the “Reminiscences of Quincy”, a book by Henry Asbury and published in Quincy in 1882, p 30.

    “Willard Keyes surveyed and drew up the first plat of the town. In after years he called it the Model City the name of the Gem City was bestowed long afterwards by the new coming second or third generation. The County being named Adams the Town Quincy to complete the full name of the then President of the United States the public square now called Washington Park was called John’s Square or John’s Prairie. This name was bestowed by those present when the stake was driven though the early plats of the city omitted the name John’s Square. Judge Snow who afterwards made the first town plat was not present when the stake was driven. The first message of John Quincy Adams delivered March 4 1825 reached the County on the day the county seat was located and to give the new President the full compliment of naming our new county seat for him the men of that early day added John for the only public square in the original town. It is perhaps to be regretted that it was ever named differently. It is proper to remark that no persons besides Wood, Rose and family, and Keyes lived in Quincy prior to the 4th of July 1825”

    Wikipedia wins this round. Cheers

  3. Pfly says:

    The county seat of Polk County, Oregon, is Dallas, named for Polk’s vice president George M. Dallas. Quick search doesn’t turn up additional names associated with Polk though.

  4. Pfly says:

    A few others, not quite the same, but curious anyway:

    Millard County, Utah
    seat: Fillmore

    Crockett County, TN
    seat: Alamo

    and an old favorite,
    Delaware County, Indiana
    seat: Muncie

  5. Matt says:

    Re: Jason’s comment:

    Greeley County, Kansas, is named after Horace Greeley, the losing candidate in the 1872 presidential election (he died right after the election). There is a town called Horace in the county. However, the county seat is named Tribune after Greeley’s New York Tribune newspaper.

  6. “Maine Street” is great!

    And yes, good old George, Washington. For years they used to advertise concerts at the Gorge Amphitheatre as taking place at “The Gorge at George,” even though the venue is actually closer to — get this — Quincy!

    I don’t know if you’ve covered this before, but John Square in Quincy, Adams County, puts me in mind of the cluster of streets around Charing Cross, London, named for George Villiers, 1st Duke of Buckingham.

    From Wikipedia: “In the 1620s, Villiers acquired York House, Strand, the street linking the City of London to that of Westminster. Apart from an interlude during the English Civil War, the property remained in the family until his son sold it to developers for £30,000 in 1672. He made it a condition of the sale that his name and title be commemorated by George Street, Villiers Street, Duke Street, Of Alley, and Buckingham Street, some of which have survived into the twenty-first century.”

    I’ve been there, and indeed, George Court, Villiers Street, and Buckingham Street still exist. Duke Street? It’s become John Adam Street (!), and Of Alley has become York Place. I’m glad they preserved “Of Alley” in a small way on the York Place signs — — had no idea what it was all about when I first saw it, but was quite charmed when I found out the whole story. I think they should change it back!

  7. Jason says:

    The president and vice president tangent allows me to drop this into the mix.

    View Larger Map

  8. Bill Harris says:

    My favorite is the intersection of Bush and Clinton Streets in Brooklyn:

    View Larger Map

    By happy coincidence, the streets were named long before either administration.

  9. Bruckner says:

    In Brooklyn, where I lived in the late 1990s, there was an intersection of President Street with Clinton Street.

  10. Bruckner says:

    I see that President Street also intersects with Washington Avenue.

  11. I forgot to mention my high school, Bush, which is located on Seattle’s E. Republican Street (though its street address is on E. Harrison).

    View Larger Map

    (How does one embed a map directly into a post? Sorry if I missed instructions somewhere.)

    • There’s a quirk in WordPress (which powers my blog) that makes it challenging to embed Google Maps directly in comments. It works perfectly within the body of a blog post but it’s always a 2-step process in the comments. I’m guessing it’s a bug.

      Anyway, start with the image you want to link in Google Maps. Look just above the Google Map image on the upper-right side (directly above where it offers you choices of earth, map, satellite, traffic, etc.) and you will see an option called Link. Select it and it will open a little block where you can then copy-and-past either an HTML link or some embedding code. Choose the second option, "Paste HTML to embed in website." Drop that into your comment at the place you want to see the map appear.

      Theoretically if WordPress comments worked correctly you should be able to select the embedding code, drop it into your comment, and see the map appear when you submit the comment. Because of the bug you’ll only see the statement "view larger map." and the map itself will disappear. I moderate every comment so I simply click your link, re-copy the embedding code, and save it again. Why it never works the first time and always works the second time is one of life’s little mysteries.

      It’s also just as easy for me to take a direct HTML link (like you provided above) and then use it to embed an image. It’s your choice; whichever is easier. Regardless I have to perform a manual intervention.

  12. Alex says:

    Bonnet Bay, Sydney: every street in this small Australian suburb is named for an American president. They seem to go up to and include Nixon (see the small Nixon Place there?), which makes sense as this is a 1970s subdivision. No idea if it was built pre- or post-Watergate though.

    View Larger Map

    They don’t seem to have Hoover, which is a bit of an oversight as he might be considered the most ‘Australian’ U.S. president, having lived here for a year in 1898!

    • Pity the poor folks on Nixon Place.

      I think sometimes the developers simply run out of ideas. All the easy names have already been taken. I spent my early childhood years in a neighborhood where all the streets were named after variations on the names of his family, including one named (allegedly) after his cat: Pookie Court. Residents petitioned the county soon after they moved into their new homes to change it to something a little more generic.

    • Joe says:

      Looks like Hoover Pl is located toward the bottom center of the map where upper and lower Washington Drive come back together (it juts to the south of upper washington drive). You’ll have to zoom in a little more to see the name.

  13. Joshua says:

    Here’s another interesting one in Troy, IL:

    View Larger Map

    Sort of a presidential-military theme going. Wonder what the other streets in the development are going to be called, the dashed lines in the city zoning map:

  14. I’ve been going through your interesting blog all night. I came across this interesting fact about John Quincy Adams and his name appearing in an Illinois city and county.

    The Maine Street you refer of may be named to honor one of JQA’s most passionate platforms. The State of Maine was once a part of Massachusetts called the District of Maine. The State of Maine came into existence due to the Missouri Compromise. In order to keep the amount of free vs. slaves states equal, when Missouri entered the Union so did Maine.

    JQA was dead set against slavery and didn’t want to see the slave states get an upper hand. In 1820 he was Secretary of State but I’m sure he had a hand in the decision to make Maine a state.

    I’m really enjoying your blog. Keep up these great posts.

  15. KCJeff says:

    In the Kansas City MO metro, Jackson County sits across the river from Clay County named after Andrew Jackon and his rival Henry Clay; the county seats are Independence and Liberty.

  16. Fritz Keppler says:

    There is also a Martha Inn in the town of George, Washington.

    (Also, the lower level of the George Washington Bridge connecting NYC to New Jersey is locally referred to as the Martha Washington Bridge.)

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