15 US Cities That Changed Their Names And The Surprising Reasons Why

Ephraim Obare
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Oh, the places you’ll go… or the places you once knew! Welcome, dear reader, to our whimsical tour of 15 U.S. cities that once answered to entirely different names. Yes, you read that right! A handful of our beloved towns have undergone more than a facelift—they’ve had full-blown identity swaps. And the reasons?

Oh, they’re every bit as intriguing as the cities themselves. So buckle up, prepare for some detours on memory lane, and let’s uncover these fascinating tales of urban name changes. We promise it’s a ride worth hopping on!

Atlanta

Atlanta, Georgia
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It was initially known as Terminus because it ended the Western & Atlantic railroad line. But in 1845, they went for something with a little more pizzazz.

Phoenix

Phoenix
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It was once called Pumpkinville due to the giant pumpkins that grew in the area. They later went for something that better reflected their ambitions.

New York City

New York City
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It was once known as New Amsterdam. The English renamed it after the Duke of York because, let’s face it, who wouldn’t want a city named after them?

Oklahoma City

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It was once called Unassigned Lands before the Land Rush of 1889. In 1889, they went with something a little more exquisite, hence, Oklahoma City.

Nashville

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It was founded as Fort Nashborough in 1779. They decided to class up the joint by switching to Nashville in 1784.

Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh
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Pittsburgh was once romantically called Fort Duquesne. In 1758, they renamed it after British statesman William Pitt.

Chicago

Chicago, Illinois
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Chicago was once Fort Dearborn. They changed it to Chicago in 1833, after a local wild garlic called ‘chicagoua.’

Los Angeles

Los Angeles, California
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Los Angeles was initially named “El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles del Río Porciúncula.” In 1850, they decided to give their typewriters a break.

Las Vegas

Las Vegas
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Las Vegas was once called Las Vegas Rancho, a Spanish term for “The Meadows Ranch.” They shortened it to Las Vegas due to popular demand.

Houston

Houston, Texas
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Houston was known as Harrisburg until they renamed it after Sam Houston, the then-President of the Republic of Texas.

Denver

Denver
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Denver was first called St. Charles, but they changed it to Denver City in honor of Kansas Territorial Governor James Denver.

Orlando

Orlando
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Orlando was originally Jernigan, named after the first permanent settler. According to the City of Orlando, the Jernigan family had established the first permanent settlement in the area.

Jernigan had a post office established on May 30, 1850. Eventually, they opted for Orlando, though the reasons remain a mystery.

San Francisco

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San Francisco was first known as Yerba Buena, which means ‘Good Herb’ in Spanish. They changed it to San Francisco in 1846 to honor the Saint Francis of Assisi.

Albuquerque

Albuquerque
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Albuquerque was known as Ranchos de Albuquerque. They dropped ‘Ranchos de’ possibly to save time writing postcards.

Miami

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Miami was known as Fort Dallas. They changed it to Miami, named after the Miami River, which got its name from the Mayaimi tribe.

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So you’re ready for a change of scenery, a new adventure, or perhaps a place that feels like home? Well, tighten those shoelaces because we’re about to take you on a whirlwind tour – from the cultural mosaic of New York to the rhythmic heartbeats of Atlanta, from the vibrant art scene of Chicago to the innovative tech hubs of San Francisco.

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Author

  • Ephraim Obare

    Ephraim Obare is a versatile member of the Frenz Hub writing team, bringing a rich background in economics to his work. An avid swimmer, reader, and cyclist, Ephraim blends analytical insights with his diverse interests.

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