Place Name Hall of Fame: Distinctly recognizable town/small and mid-sized city names

The following list identifies those towns/small cities that have distinctly recognizable names — ones that are well-known enough that most people would have immediately have a mental image of it if the place was mentioned in conversation or literature, even if they have never been there. Furthermore, the town/city name is distinct enough that it is not repeated over and over again from state-to-state or country-to-country. For example, Newport, Rhode Island is certainly well known, but the city’s name is not distinct (unique), as there are many Newports across the country and/or abroad.

Bar Harbor, ME – Source: downeastacadia.com

The second half of the post lists mid-sized city names that have the same distinctiveness and recognizability. Large cities are not included as they are often well-known just due to their size.

Astoria, OR – Source: travellens.co

The communities listed have become well-known due to being historic sites, travel/resort destinations, sites of beautiful natural features, geographical location, arts and culture, athletic events, and/or from recognition thru the entertainment/media/publishing. Their aura in the public realm is further enhanced by the distinctiveness of their name…to the point where the place name essentially becomes a part of the branding of the community. As always, any additions or suggestions are welcome.

Steamboat Springs, CO – Source: coloradomtn.edu

Towns/Small Cities

Aspen, CO

Astoria, OR

Banff, AB, Canada

Bardstown, KY

Bar Harbor, ME

Cape May, NJ

Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA

Charlevoix, MI

Chincoteague, VA

Cooperstown, NY

Dodge City, KS

Eureka Springs, AR

Friday Harbor, WA

Galena, IL

Gatlinburg, TN

Gettysburg, PA

Gulf Shores, AL

Jackson Hole, WY

Ketchikan, AK

Ketchum/Sun Valley, ID

Lake Placid, NY

Mackinac Island, MI

Malibu, CA

Marfa, TX

Moab, UT

Mystic, CT

Nags Head, NC

Nantucket, MA

Natchez, MS

Natchitoches, LA

Nauvoo, IL

Niagara-on-the-Lake, ON, Canada

Provincetown, MA

Put-in-Bay, OH

Sanibel Island, FL

San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

Saugatuck, MI

Sausalito, CA

Sedona, AZ

Shipshewana, IN

St. Augustine, FL

Ste. Genevieve, MO

Steamboat Springs, CO

Taos, NM

Telluride, CO

Traverse City, MI

Vail, CO

Whistler, BC, Canada

Williamsburg, VA

Chincoteague, VA – Source: chincoteague.com

Mid-Sized Cities

Annapolis, MD

Ann Arbor, MI

Boulder, CO

Durango, CO

Hilton Head Island, SC

Key West, FL

Napa, CA

Pasadena, CA

Santa Fe, NM

Savannah, GA

Santa Fe, NM – Source: santafe.com

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5 Responses to Place Name Hall of Fame: Distinctly recognizable town/small and mid-sized city names

  1. Dan Tilque says:

    I can think of several candidates for inclusion. I’ll leave it to your judgement as to whether they’re notable and distinctive enough for the list:

    Charlottetown PE
    Dawson Creek BC — beginning of the Alcan Highway
    Green Bay WI
    Juneau AK
    Kennebuckport ME — gained some fame during the Bush I administration but perhpas that’s not famous enough
    Monte Carlo, Monaco
    Montpelier VT
    Valdez AK — mostly because the Exxon Valdez was named after it
    Whitehorse YK

    Several are on the list just because they’re state/provincial capitals and lots of people memorize those. That may or may not make them famous enough for the list.

    Like

  2. Dan Tilque says:

    A couple more:

    Alice Springs, Northern Territory, Australia — mostly famous for being the only town in the middle of nowhere the Outback
    Palm Springs CA

    Liked by 1 person

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