The Boston Diaries

The ongoing saga of a programmer who doesn't live in Boston, nor does he even like Boston, but yet named his weblog/journal “The Boston Diaries.”

Go figure.

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Springfield isn't the most popular city name in the US

OK, why do the Simpsons live in a town called Springfield? Isn't that a little generic?

Springfield was named after Springfield, Oregon. The only reason is that when I was a kid, the TV show “Father Knows Best” took place in the town of Springfield, and I was thrilled because I imagined that it was the town next to Portland, my hometown. When I grew up, I realized it was just a fictitious name. I also figured out that Springfield was one of the most common names for a city in the U.S. In anticipation of the success of the show, I thought, “This will be cool; everyone will think it's their Springfield.” And they do.

Matt Groening Reveals the Location of the Real Springfield | Arts & Culture| Smithsonian Magazine

So I got to wondering, is Springfield the most popular city name in the US? I know, weird question, but I'm curious. So some quick searching lead me to the United States Geological Survey Geographical Names Database. With some massaging of the data, I was able to determine that there are 34 States with a “Springfield,” but it's not alone. There are eight other cities that are also in 34 States: Arlington, Chester, Clinton, Farmington, Florence, Greenville, Milton, and Newport. Okay, maybe not the same 34 states across all those cities, but you get the idea.

But those cities aren't the most popular names. No, all of them are tied for ninth place! The city name that appears in most states is “Riverside” at 46 States (plus Puerto Rico). The States that don't have a “Riverside” are Alaska, Hawaii, Oklahoma, and Louisiana (really? Louisiana? One of the world's largest river run straight through that state, and no one bothered to name a town in Louisiana, “Riverside?”).

And just to satisfy the curious:

Top 10 city names in the US (including territories)
Place Name # States
1 Riverside 47
2 Centerville 43
3 Fairview 41
4 Franklin 40
5 Midway 39
6 Georgetown 37
Glendale 37
Greenwood 37
7 Lincoln 36
Marion 36
Oakland 36
Pleasant Valley 36
Salem 36
Union 36
8 Fairfield 35
Lakeview 35
Liberty 35
9 Arlington 34
Chester 34
Clinton 34
Farmington 34
Florence 34
Greenville 34
Milton 34
Newport 34
Springfield 34
10 Bethel 33
Clifton 33
Eden 33
Glenwood 33
Hamilton 33
Kingston 33
Lakeside 33
Mount Pleasant 33
Summit 33

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