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City Name Change

BigCity

Member
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3
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0
Question: I'm looking for research, case studies, articles, etc that focus on the economic impact a "place name" change has on a town or city. I have a specific interest in those towns or cities that were once industrial, "blue collar" or agricultural locales that changed their names as part of a larger transition to middle class communities.

Thanks!

Big City
 

Cardinal

Cyburbian
Messages
10,080
Points
34
I don't recall anything I have seen on that topic, but I know of one. Beloit, WI began as "bellot," meaning "beautiful prairie" or something like that. Town fathers changed it to "beloyt" to sound more like "Detroit," then the big city of the upper midwest. "Branding" communities or states is a newly popular concept that you may want to check out as well.
 

Chet

Cyburbian Emeritus
Messages
10,624
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34
A few years ago, Sheboygan, WI considered changing its name to "Newport" in order to get away from its blue collar stigma. There were studies done, but it was long enough ago I doubt its on the web. The only winner here was the consultant that ran away with a larger account receivebale.

Here's their (bad) home page. You might be able to email them for more info.

http://www.ci.sheboygan.wi.us
 

Dan

Dear Leader
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Moderator
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18,139
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Michael Stumpf said:
Town fathers changed it to "beloyt" to sound more like "Detroit," then the big city of the upper midwest.
In 1992, the city of East Detroit, Michigan changed its name to Eastpointe, in an attempt to disassociate itself with the city's namesake.
 

Seabishop

Cyburbian
Messages
3,838
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25
I think the town of Gay Head on Martha's Vineyard was thinking about changing its name.


What's so funny?
 

BKM

Cyburbian
Messages
6,464
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29
t one point, the City of Hamilton, Ohio (north of Cincy) seriously proposed changing its name to Hamilton! (because you know that the "!" will just add that special sense of excitement and happening WOW! to the City).

I really think "marketing professionals'" ideas are almost as ridiculous as some of our older zoning standards. :)
 

el Guapo

Capitalist
Messages
5,984
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29
Didn't Hittlerville, NJ change thier name around 1941?










Sorry, I know it should have been posted in the FAC if at all. :(

Back in the 80's a few places where considering adding "the" to their names. Ohio State became "The" Ohio State University. I vaguely remember some towns doing the "the" thing.
 

Joe Iliff

Reformed City Planner
Messages
1,441
Points
29
The State of Dakota?

Didn't North Dakota once consider changing its name to just "Dakota"? Something about people thinking the "North" meant that they were part of Canada, or had a very cold climate or something. It was keeping the tourists away.

I guess the International Peace Garden isn't the tourist attraction that Mount Rushmore is.
 

biscuit

Cyburbian
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3,904
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25
Re: The State of Dakota?

Joe Iliff said:
Didn't North Dakota once consider changing its name to just "Dakota"?
I have a couple of good friends from North Dakota and the idea of a name change is presently a real issue for that State. Perhaps they should go the Prince route and change the name of the state to a symbol. "The State formely known as North Dakota" or "The State" That would attract some of the attention they want.
 

Greenescapist

Cyburbian
Messages
1,169
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24
I heard on NPR the other day that the area of Los Angeles know as South Center LA has changed it's name- don't think it's an independent city- to South Los Angeles to try to remove the gangs, drugs and violence stigma that South Central evokes.
 

BigCity

Member
Messages
3
Points
0
The city formerly known as....

Sorry for the delayed response. Thanks all for the humor and interesting tidbits. I'll do some research on the "community Branding" concept. The Prince route also holds promise... let's see.. "The City formerly known as Goodyear"... That might work.. but of course, we'll have to change the name back to just "Goodyear" in about 10 years.
 

biscuit

Cyburbian
Messages
3,904
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25
Re: The city formerly known as....

BigCity said:
but of course, we'll have to change the name back to just "Goodyear" in about 10 years.
True but then you risk not being near as popular as you were before the name change.

If it's community branding you're looking into...I've read that there is a group here attempting to push a regional branding concept for the Pittsburgh MSA. I don't have any information on their work but it should be easy to fing on the internet.
 

Joe Iliff

Reformed City Planner
Messages
1,441
Points
29
Doh!

I can't believe I forgot this until now.

Perhaps the most famous city name change came back in the 50's, when Hot Springs, New Mexico changed its name to Truth or Consequences in response to an idea from Ralph Edwards, the host of the game show Turh or Consequences. That was something that got the small, otherwise not unusual community in southern New Mexico "on the map".

How Hot Springs Became Truth or Consequences
Courtesy of Herald Publishing, The Chaparral Guide-January 2000

Just off Interstate-25 midway between the thriving metropolitan cities of El Paso and Albuquerque is one of the most publicized and unique health resorts in the United States. Originally named "Hot Springs" and now called "Truth or Consequences", this city has received more national publicity via television and radio than any city of it's size in the United States. So naturally, one of the first things people who come here ask is, "How did the town get it's name?"

In 1950, Hot Springs New Mexico, was plodding along slowly and fairly comfortably, much the same as hundreds of other small resort cities. Tourist trade, practically speaking, was the city's only industry. The majority of visitors here sought the town's health facilities and found the little community offered more for their money than they found almost anywhere else under the sun. The cost of living was, and still is, extremely reasonable, and visitors and residents alike did, and still do, relax in the healing, naturally hot mineral baths, bask in the almost ever present sunshine, fill their lungs with the fresh, pure air that envelopes the city and surrounding areas, fish a little, and play dominoes and shuffleboard at the Senior Citizens Recreation Center.

Another pastime years ago was sitting in groups on the sidewalk benches to watch a few travelers as they passed on the highway, usually without stopping. Recreation then was undeveloped to it's full potential and the town was lost among hundreds of other " Hot Springs" scattered all over the United States; the name indicating nothing more significant than the likelihood that some hot springs were located in the area.

Then in 1950, NBC television and radio producer Ralph Edwards, on the 10th anniversary of the Truth or Consequences radio program, called his staff together and said, "I wish that some town in the United States liked and respected our show so much that it would like to change it's name to 'Truth or Consequences.'" On hearing the proposition, the New Mexico State Tourist Bureau relayed the news to the manager of the Hot Springs Chamber of Commerce and the news spread like wildfire.

Here was an opportunity to advertise the city and it's resources free of charge! Better still, no longer was our city to be confused with that "other one" in Arkansas and the others throughout the nation (California alone has more than 30 towns called "Hot Springs").

So, in a special city election, 1,294 of the town's residents voted for the change to "Truth or Consequences." On the other hand, 295 area residents opposed the change and a protest was filed, so the city returned to the polls and again voted- by a margin greater than four to one- to go ahead with the name change.

Almost 14 years later, in January 1964, the question went to the people again and they voted to keep the city's unique name. A fourth election was held on August 18, 1967, and once more a majority voted to keep the name Truth or Consequences.

Ralph Edwards and his entire NBC production, acting and show crew came here in 1950, aired the first live, coast-to-coast broadcast of Truth or Consequences from the city of Truth or Consequences, and the residents of his adopted home are very pleased to say he has been coming back every year since- with his Hollywood friends- to celebrate the anniversary of the name change, and to help spread the news about this oasis of hot springs, two of the state's best lakes and many other recreational opportunities throughout Sierra County.
Perhaps the most famous recent example is the city of Halfway, Oregon changing it's name to Half.com, Oregon, in exchange for computers from Half.com

Half got a jump-start from one of the greatest publicity coups in dotcom history. Its marketing guru talked Halfway, Ore. (pop. 345), into renaming itself Half.com, Ore., in exchange for $75,000 and 22 computers. The move made national headlines and landed Kopelman on NBC's Today Show with Katie Couric. Traffic and sales soared, and by June, Half was the 18th largest e-commerce site, with 250,000 registered users. That month eBay plunked down more than $300 million in stock to buy the company.
Maybe see if something like this is a possibility.
What do you think of . . . .
. . . . American Idol, Arizona?
. . . . CSI, Arizona?
. . . . Survivor, Arizona?
. . . . Law & Order, Arizona?
. . . . Smallville, Arizona?
. . . . Lord of the Rings, Arizona?

Anyone got any other good ideas?
 

japrovo

Member
Messages
103
Points
6
On this brand management issue I think you might find that it is about more than just a name. We have been working with a regional public-private taskforce on economic development and a key finding has been that for the lack of a regional "brand manager" folks like Doonesbury have been defining what the region was all about. This has anecdotally had some negative consequences for firm and workforce recruitment/retention.
 

giff57

Corn Burning Fool
Staff member
Moderator
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5,416
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32
BKM said:
Shouldn't Smallville be in someplace like Iowa or Kansas?

:)
Hey now! I'm gone moving for 3 days and you start dissin Iowa.... :)
 
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