"There are two Portlands? Why would they do that!?"
London, England. Not to be confused with London, Ontario.
There are a great deal of American cities and towns named after places from Europe: mostly British places, but French, German, Spanish, Portuguese and Dutch names crop up across the USA, not to mention numerous variations and simplifications of Native American spellings. This reflects the USA's origins as being colonized by people from across Europe. Interestingly enough, lots of major American cities are far bigger than their European counterparts ever were (Cleveland
, Stockton, Rochester, York/New York, and Portland
are the most obvious examples, and the only two major exceptions are Birmingham and Manchester).
Unfortunately, this results in some confusion and frustration for many Americans. Since the USA is big and though sparsely populated home to quite a few cities, and many of these cities have similar if not identical names (for instance, there are thirty two
states that have a city named "Springfield
"), Americans often describe an American location as "City Name
", and describe a foreign location as "City Name
" to parallel that. This works well in the USA, but becomes rather jarring and annoying for foreigners, who find it annoying that after being shown Tower Bridge, the Houses of Parliament, and St Paul's Cathedral all in one shot
, they still need to say "London
In France, the tendency is to ram the identifier into the town name itself, so one gets places like Saint-Marie-Sur-Aube and Saint-Marie-Sur-Orne and Saint-Marie-En-Provence, etc. The American equivalent would be if towns were actually named "Springfield-in-Massachusetts" and "Springfield-in-Illinois."note
Some British towns, such as Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Stratford-upon-Avon and Berwick-upon-Tweed, follow this scheme as well (though in that case the -upon- always comes before the name of a river that goes through the city), as well as Frankfurt am Main in Germany (which most people know only as Frankfurt, anyway, as Frankfurt (Oder) isn't nearly as important). The logical equivalent in America for this would be hypothetical city names such as "New-York-Upon-Hudson" and "Washington-Upon-Potomac."note
The Japanese equivalent is to rename a town or city that shares its name with a more famous counterpart so that it also includes the name of the ancient province. Nagano City in Osaka had the same name as that other
Nagano (the one with all the skiing), so they changed it to Kawachi
-Nagano. Happens a lot with similarly-named train stations, too.
A slightly different form is sometimes used: Americans from small towns will usually specify their state simply to give a general idea of what region they're from. If someone says he is from Miamisburg, Ohio, it isn't because there's another Miamisburg out there (there isn't, as far as we know), but because people from other states have no idea where in the world Miamisburg is. The foreign equivalent might be for someone from a small town to give the name of the nearest major city.
Gets used in the Title In
a lot. An example of Creator Provincialism
. Often mocked, although it's still a popular trope. Named by Bill Bryson. The Other Wiki
has a list of the most commonly used city names.
In case you were wondering, aside from London, England there are at least: 1 London, Belize; 1 London, Canada; 1 London, Equatorial Guinea; 1 London, Finland; 1 London, Kiribati; 1 London, Nigeria; 3 Londons, South Africa; and 17 Londons, United States of America as well - a total of at least 27 cities, towns, or villages whose full name is "London". There are many more such communities with "London" as part of their name.
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- Inverted with a Nike ad during the 2012 London Olympics. Since they weren't an official sponsor, they couldn't explicitly mention the Olympics. They could, however, show athletes in all the other Londons around the world, as long as they didn't have any references to London, England, or to the Olympics. After some controversy, it was decided that this was legal. Watch it here.
- An old ad for a Capital One features a family complaining about their credit card service not offering them free airline miles for purchases, so the dad invents a machine to teleport them to their vacation destination. The father enters the destination as St. Petersburg, Florida, with the family dressed in beach attire. The machine teleports them to cold St. Petersburg, Russia.
- Played with in an early Cable story where Cable goes on a date with Domino:
Cable: Well, it was either this or big macs in Paris.
Domino: I like Paris.
Cable: Paris, Oklahoma? note
- When Lynn Johnston indicted in her comic strip For Better or for Worse that eldest son Michael was going to a university in London, everyone thought that she meant London, England. He ended up attending the University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario. Lynn herself admitted that this was deliberate to throw people off.
- Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade has an important sequence set in Venice, Italy.
- Parodied in Team America: World Police: Every time the location changed, there would be a subtitle that stated the place's name and its distance in miles from AMERICA!.
- A similar, but more extreme, parody occurs in the Canadian radio series As It Happens - something of a mixture of 60 Minutes and The Daily Show, with a small bit of A Prairie Home Companion thrown in - which, regardless of the context, when discussing locations in the British Isles will always give the name of the location, and its exact distance from Readingnote as a Running Gag.
- Subverted in the movie Paris, Texas. A man is going around with a photograph telling people it is of Paris, even though it is clear that the photo shows a desert landscape.
- Incidentally, the real Paris, Texas looks nothing like what is shown in the photo. Paris, Texas the movie is shot in the deserts of West Texas, which is all rugged desert, while Paris, Texas the city is in East Texas, which is mostly grass plains and forest.
- Country-based example from Transformers: "Qatar, The Middle East".
- That may be more of an assumption that Viewers Are Morons than any other issue.
- Combined perhaps with Creators Are Morons, since the same movie also gives us the caption "The Pentagon, Washington D.C."note
- Played with in Road Trip, where "Austin, Texas" morphs into "Boston, Massachusetts" and several variations on those. The trailing state doesn't seem to do much to help locate the town in question.
- In the movie Mississippi Masala, when Demetrius is taking Meena to meet his family this happens. When Meena says she is from India, his great-uncle asks if she means Indianola, Mississippi.
- A "Cairo, Egypt" label appears in The Mummy Returns. Yes, a series that takes place almost entirely in Egypt still feels the need to specify "Cairo, Egypt." Weirdly no labels tell us that Hamunaptra, an important location in the film, is in Egypt.
- Parodied in John Cleese's made-for-TV film The Strange Case of the End of Civilization As We Know It, in which a dim-witted US President (a No Celebrities Were Harmed version of Gerald Ford) orders a secret service agent to catch "the first plane to London, France."
- Parodied in Orgazmo, which unnecessarily pairs it with the Eiffel Tower Effect: The opening shot is the Hollywood sign followed by the caption "Hollywood, California".
- Deliberately averted in the title of the movie The Cars That Ate Paris, which is set in Paris, Australia.
- Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny: J.B. travels to Hollywoods all across America before he gets to Hollywood, California.
- Scotland, PA takes place in modern-day Scotland, PA instead of Macbeth's Scotland.
- The gays-and-Italians comedy Mambo Italiano plays with this trope as part of its Old World in the New World theme.
Angelo [on the phone to a customer of the travel agency he works for] Yes, I apologize, but... I know your client is in the U.K. But you didn't say Glasgow, you insisted on New Glasgow. That's north of Montreal. So I chartered a bus. I say New Glasgow. You misunderstood. I don't mean to be confrontational, but there is no New Glasgow in Scotland. Well, no, they don't need a new one, they have the old one. It's actually quite simple. You see, many years ago people from Glasgow, Glasconians, left the old Glasgow and they came here. And they built a new Glasgow. And they called it New Glasgow because it was new. According to theoretical physics, eventually we'll be able to fold space so that the new Glasgow will overlap the old Glasgow. But until then, let me assure you that they are quite different places. Did I mention that New Glasgow just got waterslides? Those are fun.
- His dad explains the naming misconceptions involved in a simple immigration:
Gino: Nobody told us there was two America: the real one, United State, and the fake one, Canada. Then, to make matter even worse, there's two Canada: the real one, Ontario, and the fake one, Quebec.
- Naked Gun 2½: The Smell of Fear opens on a pan of Washington, D.C., then focuses onto the White House when a helpful "The White House" pops up on screen, followed several seconds later by "Washington, D.C."
- Spoofed in the Aqua Teen Hunger Force movie, where the opening scene (set in Egypt) is subtitled: "Egypt, Millions of Years Ago, 3 p.m., 1492, New York."
- In In the Heat of the Night, Sidney Poitier's character Virgil Tibbs is questioned as to where he resides:
Police Chief Gillespie: Philadelphia, Mississippi?
Tibbs: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
- Mars Attacks! has a jarring example. Tom Jones, a famous Welshman, says, in a Welsh accent, "When I was growing up in Cardiff, Wales".
- Played with to great effect in The Harvey Girls, which features a minor character explaining that she's from Paris:
"I was born in Paris
I was raised in Paris
Went to school in Paris
Where I met a boy,
I was married in Paris,
Almost buried in Paris,
But I finally left Paris
(Yes, there is such a place, 150 miles south of Chicago on the Indiana border.)
- X-Men: First Class: Moscow, Russia. (Even though in 1962 it should have been "Moscow, USSR".)
- The Bourne Ultimatum: Conklin has to point out he wants Vienna, Virginia instead of Vienna, Austria.
- The Dan Brown novel Angels and Demons did a similar joke with Geneva.
- Most of those "solve-the-mystery" books (including Encyclopedia Brown, of course) have at least one where the key to solving the mystery is knowing that there are apparently cities named Athens, Jerusalem, Palestine or Paris in Texas. It's always one of those four, and more importantly, it's always in Texas.
- In American Gods the main character spends some time in Cairo, Illinois (where it's pronounced "Kay-ro"), and meets some beings from the other Cairo.
- A plot point in one of Agatha Christie's Tommy and Tuppence stories is that there are two towns in England called Maldon; one in Surrey and one in Sussex. The characters know of Maldon, Surrey, so don't bother reading the "Maldon, Su..." address on a telegram properly, Only later does Tuppence realize that the telegraph office only give the county if they need to specify between two places with the same name. (The real town of Maldon is in Essex, however.)
- In Cordwainer Smith's "Instrumentality" series, one of the most important cities on Earth is "Meeyameefla," obviously meant to be Miami, Fla. - note that FL is the more common abbreviation of Florida since ZIP codes were introduced.
- But thanks to Lou Reed, to a lot of people it's always going to be "Miami, F-L-A".
- In James Blish's classic Cities in Flight series, Earth's cities, fitted with antigravity generators and spacedrives, roam the Galaxy looking for work. Nevertheless, they still use names like "Chicago, Illinois" or "Scranton, Pennsylvania". This even becomes a plot point when one character spots the error in a city's name and realizes it's actually an alien battlestation.
- In Piers Anthony's THE MACROSCOPE, an amateur astrologer, on being told that the subject was born in Philadelphia, feels the need to ask "Pennsylvania or Mississippi?"
- In the Bunnicula book Return to Howliday Inn, one dog is happy to hear that his owner is in London, probably sipping tea with the Queen and everything. He is then informed that London is a town just over the border of the next state.
- In the Tom Holt novel Here Comes The Sun, a trainee weather spirit manages to get the Nile to flood Memphis, Tennessee.
- When Torchwood (previously set almost exclusively in Cardiff) became a joint production involving the American Starz network as well as BBC Wales, the setting of the fourth series Torchwood: Miracle Day was expanded to span both the UK and US, and the trope was applied to both American and British locations.
- In an All in the Family episode, Archie loses his Christmas bonus after he messes up a shipment meant for London, Ontario.
- Inverted on One Life to Live, blue-blooded matriarch Vicki (then Davidson) decides she needs to go on a trip to find herself and get her head together. When she calls her family, she tells them she's in Paris. Instead of clarifying, she deliberately lets them think she's in the famous Paris, rather than working as a diner waitress in Paris, Texas.
- In a 3rd Rock From The Sun episode, the Big Giant Head threatened to send Dick to Mars if he failed at something:
: Oh, well, Mars isn't too bad. Big Giant Head
: Not that
- The mystery show Eerie Indiana.
- Heroes is rather bad at this. Not to mention a teleported character being described as "Somewhere in Africa" (which, to be charitable, might have been intended to reflect his own confusion), and another Title In informing us that Peter is in Cork, Ireland, there is a whole subplot set in Odessa, Ukraine - apparently just for the sake of a joke, since Noah is from Odessa, Texas.
- MST3K mocked this once when a caption said "Illinois, USA". As opposed to Illinois, Mongolia.
- Played with in Monty Python's Flying Circus in the Cycling Tour episode when any time a city is mentioned it cuts away to Eric Idle in a military uniform standing in front of a map and pointing out the city's distance from 3 unrelated cities around Europe. By the third or fourth time he's eventually told to shut up by the characters in the sketch.
- Played with in an episode of Mash where Maj. Winchester is attempting to get a call through to Boston. The Running Gag throughout that episode is that the person he's talking to attempts to clarify his references to Boston with "Boston Massachusetts?", causing him to become progressively more annoyed in his response.
Maj. Winchester: Yes, Massachusetts, you geographic whiz.
Maj. Winchester: (through gritted teeth) No! It's spending the weekend in Florida!
- Crowned during the episode's denoument, during which he is finally able to send a sober and confessional telegram to his sister, as dictated over the phone to the telegraph operator:
Maj. Winchester: ... to Honoria Winchester, Beacon Hill, Boston. [beat, then with a defeated air] Ye-es, Massachusetts.
- Averted in Jericho; going on the title alone you'd have no idea it took place in the United States, let alone Kansas.
- That was kind of the point, since the show took place after a catastrophic bombing that left the residents isolated and unsure if the United States still truly existed.
- Mentioned in an episode of Full House when Jesse's grandfather suddenly passes away during a visit. His body is being flown back home for the funeral, and Jesse tells the others that he needs to make sure the airline sends him to Athens, Greece, instead of Athens, Georgia.
- Georgia has a lot of Greek and Turkish inspired names, for some reason. Like Smyrna, Atlanta, Clyo, and even Sparta.
- Averted in The Man from U.N.C.L.E., which regularly used scene-setting "Somewhere In (Insert Place Here") captions.
- Picket Fences had an episode that dealt with The Pope going to Rome. Not Rome in Italy but Rome, Wisconsin (the setting for the show).
- The "gives the name of their State as well as their small town name for context" is poked fun at in Harry and Paul with the eccentric American tourist couple Ronald and Pam who always introduce themselves as being from Badiddlyboing, Odawidaho.
- In one episode of The Lucy Show, Lucy takes the trope even further by specifying that she's taking a trip to "London, England, In Europe."
- Night Court: Dan's grandfather named the tiny town of Paris, Louisiana where Dan grew up, after the city he was station in during World War One - Paris Illinois, that is.
- The Benny Hill Show: In "Murder on the Oregon Express", Benny as Hercule Poirot mentions "Paris, France, Europe" on a couple of occasions.
- In the Parks and Recreation epsisode "Ms. Knope Goes To Washington", Leslie is annoyed to discover that when she mentions her beloved hometown of Pawnee, she has to specify that it's the one in Indiana as there are "Pawnees" in several other states. (Truth in Television. The Other Wiki recognizes four "Pawnees" in the U.S. and one "Pawnee City".)
- An episode of I Dream of Jeannie involves Jeannie going to Reno filing for separation from her Master, Tony, who thinks she's gone to Reno, Nevada, when she really went to "Reno, Persia."
- Channel 4's cult late-night video review show Vids featured a notable example. The show was filmed in Glasgow (or Glasgow, Scotland, if you prefer). Presenter Nige, in the guise of cheesy American host Mc Lumperty, once introduced the location as "Glasgow - London, England".
- Criminal Minds will often use this in their captions- even, at times, for big cities like New York and Los Angeles- just so viewers know where the team is that week. It's justified so that the show can spend more time explaining the cases and getting to the action, especially when a case involves multiple cities at once.
- There's an obscure Halloween song called Redneck Dracula about a vampire from Transylvania, Kentucky.
- "A Day in The Life" by The Beatles. John Lennon based it on newspaper stories he read, and as mentioned below British newspapers often will list county names after town names. Hence "4,000 holes in Blackburn, Lancashire."
- The rarely performed "verse" of "White Christmas" includes the line "there's never been such a day in Beverly Hills, L.A." note
- Subverted in For Better or for Worse when Michael was a student in London, Ontario; since the Patterson family lives in that province, Lynn Johnston deliberately didn't specify it, knowing a lot of readers would think he was studying in England.
- Pro wrestling announcers are really terrible about this. Regardless of how long they've been in the company, how often they've played the Foreign Wrestling Heel, or how obvious they are about it, the announcer always makes sure to mention they're from "Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada" or "Swansea, Wales, UK." The most frustrating is Ezekiel Jackson, who is announced as being from "Guyana, South America." Weirdly, they never call it "Death Valley, California" when introducing The Undertaker (likely to invoke the Parts Unknown vibe, as it wasn't originally clear if his Death Valley was an actual physical location).
- In Hair Claude has a song about "Manchester England England."
- Make a Wish, a musical set in Gay Paree, had a song titled "Paris, France."
- Paint Your Wagon:
Sandy: What's your statistics, pardner?
Crocker: Edgar Crocker, from London, England.
Sandy: Well, come along then, Edgar Crocker, from London, England!
- In this Not Always Right story, a foreigner learns that there's a reason why Americans do this —to his frustration. He just wanted to make fun!
- Played with subtly in the Homestar Runner flash game "Where's An Egg?". Although most of the details in the game suggest that it takes place in Soviet-era Moscow, the manual states that the protagonist is actually part of the Boise police. That might seem odd, since Boise is the capital of Idaho, but it is actually a sly reference to the city of Moscow, Idaho.
- The Simpsons parodied this. Apu tells of his vacation plans to see Paris... in fact, several Parises, including Hilton, Texas, and France. They also revel in its avoidance when discussing Springfield and which state it is (or isn't) in. By the way, assuming it were a real American town, it could be any of 28 Springfields in 24 states (Wisconsin has five).
- In one episode of Where on Earth Is Carmen Sandiego??, the detectives figure out they need to head to a river that's between Cairo and Memphis. When they arrive at the Nile, they find out they should have gone to the Mississippi (one of them is Memphis, Tennessee, while the other is most likely Cairo, Missouri - while the Mississippi runs by Cairo, Illinois, it's on the same side as Memphis).
- An episode of Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi had Ami excited to meet her pen pal from Paris, who she thinks is handsome. But it turns out he's a short nerd from Paris, Idaho.
- In the Batman: The Animated Series episode "The Lion and the Unicorn", Alfred travels to England to help an old friend of his. When he calls Bruce to tell him, Bruce asks "London, England?", and Alfred answers, "There is only one." Whether he meant "only one London" (which would be an odd Critical Research Failure on Alfred's part) or "only one London, England" is up to debate.
- Given that Alfred has a tendency to get a bit patriotic when the UK comes up, he could have meant there was only one London worthy of the name.
- Totally Spies! averts this: wherever the girls go, only the name of the city pops up at the bottom of the screen, without a state or country (i.e. you never, ever, see "Beverly Hills, California" in these captions). They still use the Eiffel Tower Effect whenever applicable, though.
- As noted above, the name was coined by Bill Bryson. He discussed it in an essay in which he suggested that the stereotypically lower intelligence of Americans compared to people of other nationalities is not down to some sort of racial defect, but a result of Americans being regularly freed from any need to think, ever. This trope, he argued, is one way in which American newspaper-readers are not required to cognitively exert themselves in the same way that British newspaper-readers are.
- Miami University is almost universally known as "Miami of Ohio" to distinguish it from the much more famous University of Miami in Florida.
- Somewhat ironic given that, as students and alumni of the university are often proud to declare, "there was a Miami in Ohio when Florida still belonged to Spain" (Miami University in Oxford, Ohio - itself an example of this trope - was established in 1809, Florida was ceded by Spain to the United States in 1819, the city of Miami was settled in 1825, and the University of Miami was established in 1925). As so many entries on this wiki attest, being the first does not necessarily mean being the most well known, hence the need for clarification.
- Gregg Easterbrook of ESPN.com loves obscure colleges with goofy names, his two favorites being California of Pennsylvania and Indiana of Pennsylvania.
- Miami, Oklahoma is pronounced "Mi-am-ah" in the local dialect to avoid confusion with the Florida city. The local Department of Commerce has even set up signs with this pronunciation.
- It gets worse, in an Only in Florida fashion: Florida not only boasts a city named Miami, it also boasts a city named Miami City. Miami City, Florida, is in Escambia County, the western-most part of Florida's "panhandle", and just about as far away as you can get from the Miami as you can get and still be in Florida.
- There are several towns throughout the U.S. which run along the lines of "State Name" + City, and then, of course, the state name is read. The most famous of these is New York, New York. There's also Iowa City, Iowa; Oregon City, Oregon, among others. Reading the state name afterwards in the manner of this trope can seem redundant, of course, unless...
- There's also a Michigan City, Indiana, just 6 miles from the Michigan border (and also located along Lake Michigan). And there's also a Nevada City, California (in Nevada County), but it's much further from the Nevada state line. There's also the famous old silver mining town of Virginia City, Nevada (Virginia is on the other side of the country). Or Colorado City, Arizona, home of some Mormon polygamist sects. Then there's Iowa, Louisiana; Virginia, Minnesota; Oregon, Ohio; Delaware, Ohio, Oregon, Illinois...
- There's also Nevada, Missouri... kinda. The name of the city is not pronounced the same way as the state (nuh-VAY-duh for the city; nuh-VAD-uh for the state)
- Kansas City is the best-known U.S. example, being a fairly large city that straddles the Kansas-Missouri border. There is both a Kansas City, KS and a Kansas City, MO, right next to each other. And the one in Missouri is larger.
- If you say Kansas City without a modifier, it is almost always assumed that you mean Kansas City, Missouri. Which can be useful if you wish to mislead someone...there's a reason it's called the Kansas City Shuffle, after all.
- This is not a uniquely American phenomenon:
- In Japan there are several prefectures that share their names with their capital cities. Osaka, Kyoto and Fukuoka (the last of which is a clue to the location of the Excel♥Saga anime) to name some. Tokyo used to be like this as well before they merged the Tokyo (city) government with the Tokyo (prefecture) government to form the modern Tokyo Metropolis.
- Although in Japanese, it's easy to distinguish because the names are given endings to denote location. Cities are [Name]-shi and prefectures are [Name]-ken. Important locations such as Tokyo and Kyoto actually get their own unique suffixes, making it even harder to confuse the areas.
- In China over 200 cities share names with the prefecture they belong to. What's worse is they (as the prefecture capital) divide themselves into districts (each district on equal level of counties), and all-city institutions are combined with prefecture governments—so the prefecture is called "prefecture-level city" despite it's 10~1000 times larger than urban area of the central city, creating confusion even among locals.
- Also, some cities have a county of same name adjacent to it, e.g. (urban) Handan City is surrounded by Handan County, Handan City (prefecture).
- Chongqing (a combination of four former prefectures: Chongqing, Wanzhou, Qianjiang, Fuling) is sometimes mistaken as world's largest city with 29 million population (the urban Chongqing is large and important anyway, but it has only ~8 million population).
- When Chaohu prefecture dissolved (the peripheral counties divided between neighboring prefectures, and urban Chaohu transferred to Hefei prefecture's control), some foreign newspapers claimed that a city as large as Los Angels disappeared from map (4 million population in prefecture, but the urban area of Chaohu have a population of 800,000—a "small" city by Chinese standards).
- This phenomenon is so widespread that the majority of China's population are affected by it◊ (Note: pink:prefecture-level cities; purple:still prefecture-level cities but more important and economically independent; green:(except Hong Kong and Macao)Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin and Chongqing are similar to prefectures(contain city districts and counties), but are provinces in their own right; Shanghai being unusual as almost all its area is intended to be urbanized—Shanghai Metro already extended to Jiangsu Province)
- What's really odd is even Taipei and Kaohsiung are once considered "prefecture-level city" by PRC, and marked as such on maps, despite PRC never controlled them. After actual administrative divisions in Taiwan changed in 2010, this practice declined, although PRC maps are still reluctant to show reality: Baidu map only marked Keelung, Taipei, Hsinchu, Taichung, Chiayi, Tainan, Kaohsiung as seven points, displayed several ROC national highways, and no details (Note that New Taipei is not shown at all, pretending it's still a county, see also below).
- In Taiwan, here's also New Taipei City, formerly known as Taipei County, not to be confused with the capital of the Republic of China, Taipei, one of two enclaves of New Taipei.
- There's also Québec City, Québec.
- Only to English-speakers. Locals simply call it Québec, which is distinguished from the province by the lack of a definite article. Also confusion is easily avoided with the proper pronoun - "Au Québec" (In Québec) for the province, "À Québec" (At Québec) for the city.
- Someone in Vancouver, Washington has printed T-shirts reading "Vancouver (not B.C.), Washington (not D.C.), Clark County (not Nevada), next to Portland, Oregon (not Maine)".
- Vancouver, Washington is just 300 miles from the much larger Vancouver, BC, so it's not uncommon to hear residents of the Pacific Northwest refer to the American town as Vancouver, USA.
- Speaking of Washington, do you mean the state on the west coast, or the nation's capital in the District of Columbia on the East Coast? For further confusion, before it was made a state, Washington was known as Columbia Territory. Of course, locals always call it "DC" or "The District" so as not to confuse anyone. If you say "Washington" to a Washingtonian, they're going to assume you're talking about the state. Hence why most people just say "Washington State". And if you say "Washington" and you ARE referring to DC, then they're going to laugh at you for being a stupid tourist.
- When George W. Bush met Charlotte Church, he allegedly asked her what state Wales is in. There's a Wales in Alaska, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, North Dakota, Utah, and Wisconsin, but you'd think the accent would be a tip off.
- Most likely a state of grumpiness.
- There was a story about an elderly Dutch man and his grandson who somehow ended up on a flight to Sydney... Nova Scotia, instead of the more well-known, oft-visited Sydney, Australia.
- Then there's the deliberate version around twenty years ago in which a Winnipeg radio station had a contest, the prize being a trip to Miami. This being the middle of a frigid Manitoba winter, there was a massive response. The winners were told to show up at the radio station to board a bus, which they presumably thought would take them to the airport. However, it took them to the small community of Miami, Manitoba. They were not amused.
- Before computerisation, it was not at all uncommon for luggage, and sometimes passengers, for Melbourne, Florida to wind up in Melbourne, Australia. It still happens, but nowhere near as often.
- Also happened with Burlington, Vermont, and the smaller Burlington, Iowa.
- There is a town of Sault Ste. Marie in Ontario, Canada. It's right on the border with... Sault-Sainte-Marie, Michigan, USA.
- Likewise Nogales, Sonora, Mexico and Nogales, Arizona, USA. Note, however that as described above Vancouver, Washington is on the Oregon state line, opposite the Canadian border.
- Lloydminster, Alberta/Saskatchewan, needs a slash - as it's not two cities, but a single municipal entity with the provincial border straight down its middle, founded before either province.
- There's also Texarkana, Texas and Texarkana, Arkansas. Again, they border each other.
- Niagara Falls, Ontario is quite well-known; not as well known is Niagara Falls, New York, immediately adjacent to it.
- Most places in Vermont that appear to be named after places in England, are in fact named after places in Connecticut that were named after places in England.
- Until late 2007, The Other Wiki was headquartered in St. Petersburg, Florida. There have apparently been cases of stuff intended for them ending up in St. Petersburg, Russia.
- Not only can London, England be confused with London, Ontario, but Ontario, Canada can often be confused with Ontario, California — perhaps less surprisingly, given that Ontario, California is a small, relatively insignificant city which happens to have LA/Ontario International, a large, significant airport.
- It doesn't help that both Canada and California can both be abbreviated "CA".
- There is also an Ontario, Oregon.
- There is a lot of cities named Warsaw, mostly in the US, but also in Canada, all named after the capital of Poland. Being mostly settled by Polish immigrants might have had something to do with it.
- Ontario (the province) has, in addition to London, communities named Cambridge, Windsor, Southampton, Ayr, Paris, Elmira, Athens, Delhi (though they pronounce that one "DELL-high"), and probably many more. They used to have a Berlin, but that was changed to Kitchener in 1916 for some reason.
- There's a Washington, Virginia not far west from the more well known D.C., and signs that lead there say "Washington, Va." The denizens there call it "Little Washington."
- Justified as according to That Other Wiki, G.W. himself surveyed the area, and the town was incorporated before his death. Also, it's the oldest town of Washington in the U.S.A.
- Likewise there is the town of Washington, North Carolina. It is also referred to as Little Washington.
- And of course, they're all named after George Washington, a descendent of William de Wessyngton of the town of Washington just outside Sunderland, England. (Not Washington, West Sussex.)
- There's half a dozen Californias in England, and there used to be an annual Washington to California cycle race.
- The tiny island of Kiritimati has a London, a Paris and a Poland.
- Maine has a lot of cities named after countries, which leads to the famous photograph of a rather surreal road sign◊.
- Hamilton, Ontario and Hamilton, New Zealand often have similar cultural events, causing Google confusion.
- Speaking of New Zealand, until 1871 there were two Palmerstons - one in the South Island between Oamaru and Dunedin and one in the North Island on the Manawatu River. The one in the North Island was renamed "Palmerston North" by the Post Office, despite being the larger of the two (Palmerston "South" has a population of 1500, while Palmerston North has a population of 81,000).
- Likewise there were two Havelocks, one in Marlborough and one just outside Hastings. The latter was renamed Havelock North, despite being larger.
- There are also numerous Māori place names that are doubled up or very similar. For example, there is Waitangi, Bay of Islands and Waitangi, Chatham Islands. Just to add to the confusion, Waitangi in the South Island Māori dialect is 'Waitaki', which is the name of a major South Island river.
- Back in the days when telephone exchanges had names rather than area codes (and you needed an operator to make a long distance call), the exchange for Kawakawa Bay was renamed "Ruakawakawa" to distinguish it from the (larger, but still small) town Kawakawa. ("Rua" = "two" in Maori.)
- This sort of naming is extremely common in Atlantic Canada. In addition to all the repeats of Scottish, Irish, or English place names, you can get a Lower ____, ____, Middle ____, Upper Middle ____, North ____, and so on, generally quite close together along the course of a river. In Nova Scotia there is a Lower, Middle, and Upper Sackville. Sackville is a couple hours of driving away in New Brunswick across a big huge marsh. North Sydney and Sydney are right next to each other, and there is no Burlington in Nova Scotia (You've got to go to Ontario to find it), although you will find both Lower and Upper Burlington on a sufficiently detailed map of the province.
- When Burma Shave put up joke signs promising "Free! Free! A trip to Mars / For 900 / Empty jars!", they weren't actually expecting someone to take them up on it. When store owner Arliss French shipped in 900 jars he'd gotten customers to donate, the company gave him and his wife a vacation in Moers (pronounced "Mars"), Germany.
- Pronounced "Mars" by Americans who don't know any better, maybe, but not by its inhabitants or German-speakers in general.
- In Russia and the former Soviet Union, there are several cities that have nearly identical names. A few of these have changed since The Great Politics Mess-Up due to Please Select New City Name.
- Novgorod (sometimes called "Velikiy (Great)" Novgorod) and Nizhny Novgorod ("Lower Novgorod").
- Rostov Velikiy ("Great Rostov") and Rostov-na-Donu ("Rostov-on-the-Don").
- Leningrad, Russia (Saint Petersburg) and Leningrad, Tajikistan.
- Moskva (Moscow), Russia and Moskva, Tajikistan.
- There is a town in Pennsylvania with the extremely confusing name of London Britain (note the lack of a comma).
- Austria. For a country smaller than Maine, they sure have a lot of identical names, which they distinguish by adding "at XXX" or "in YYY".
- Hadersdorf im Kamptal / Hadersdorf-Weidlingau; Neusiedl am See / Neusiedl an der Zaya / Neusiedl bei Güssing
- And lots and lots of places named St. [name of the saint the local church is dedicated to].
- There is also both a district and a city named Salzburg, the latter being the capital of the former.
- Anyone from Austria will tell you, if you write them a letter, you have to list the country as "Austria/Europe" (it even says that on people's business cards), otherwise your mail may very well end up in Sydney.
- Averted with Cambridge, Massachussetts...or at least their university. Deciding that Cambridge University (or variations thereof) may get confusing, they called it Harvard instead.
- Happens a lot with many Latin American and Spanish cities, for obvious reasons:
- There's a Guadalajara in Mexico, another in Spain and another in Colombia (but it's named "Buga" for the locals).
- West, Texas, is commonly referred to by locals and travelers passing through as West-Comma-Texas to differentiate it from the geographic region. Incidentally, West is in Central Texas (or North Texas- there's some overlap).
- And on that note, North Texas (centered on the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex) is nowhere near the geographic northernmost part of the state (more commonly known as the Panhandle).
- Before it was annexed by the city of Pittsburgh in the latter half of the 19th Century, the neighborhoods south of the Monongahela River, and where most of the steel mills that made the region notorious, were a separate city called Birmingham, Pennsylvania. At this time the city of Birmingham, Alabama became the largest steel center in the south. Combined with their namesake city in England, there were three cities named Birmingham that were leading the English-speaking world in steel production.
- When the athlete from Georgia died during the Winter Olympics, they had to specify that they meant Georgia the country, not the state.
- This duplication was also used by The Beatles in a joking line about "Georgia girls" in Back in the U.S.S.R.
- Aside from the famous Bethlehem (city of David, alleged birthplace of Jesus Christ), which is in Palestinian territory, there is an Israeli town which is called "the Galilean Bethlehem" (Beit Lehem HaGlilit) for clarity. Which isn't even counting other countries—there are 13 in the United States, including two in North Carolina.
- In British Newspapers it's not uncommon to see the name of a town in England followed by the county eg Wigan, Lancashire. It seems this is not usually done so the town is not confused with another (although there are numerous villages in England with the same name) but instead to give the reader a general idea of the town's location. However it can often lead to a lot of confusion, for example in the case of Wigan, Lancashire. Lancashire is the traditional county Wigan is located in but it is currently in the county of Greater Manchester. Whether the traditional county or the current county is used is decided upon by some unknown criteria and can be confusing.
- Some newspapers when referring to a village the reader is most likely unfamiliar with, write "[village] near [nearest town]", e.g.: Clenchwarton near Kings Lynn.
- It is customary in Chinese history books to give the name of the corresponding modern county when mentioning the site of an ancient city or battle. Many students have wryly observed that, considering that there are 2862 counties in the modern PRC, it's not all that helpful.
- In British media, the prefix "County" indicates to viewers/readers unfamiliar with Irish geography that the location in question is in Ireland. Irish naming conventions make liberal use of this trope to distinguish counties from identically-named towns and cities within them (the cities of Dublin, Cork, Galway and Limerick all sharing names with their respective counties). In contrast, the only traditional English county which conforms to this convention is County Durham - again, to distinguish it from the city of Durham.
- Most Catholic countries seem to have the problem of places named after the saint the local church is dedicated to. There are not that many saints, so the entire German-speaking area, for example, is full of "St. Johann"s and "St. Michael"s.
- Oakland, California and Auckland, New Zealand. While distinguishable in writing, a Californian pronounces Oakland the same way a New Zealander pronounces Auckland. Several Americans have ended up on the wrong side of the Pacific from this confusion, including Stephanie and Michelle Tanner.
- There is an anecdote of a trucker taking a shipment to LA—Los Angeles, California—that was actually intended to go to Louisiana (postal abbreviation LA).
- Los Angeles invokes this when it says that .la is the first top-level domain ever given to a city. It isn't—.la is the Country-Code Top-level domain for Laos.
- In a particularly unpleasant example of even the Brits finding this trope useful, this BBC article about a US military helicopter crash near Norfolk. The day after the BBC reported on a US military helicopter crash near Norfolk.