Springfield contains constantly-relocating buildings (the parking lot of Springfield Nuclear Power Plant moving next door to the Simpsons' house suddenly, or Marge looking out the kitchen window at apparently the same angle and seeing different buildings in the same episode), but the town also shifts constantly between being landlocked or coastal. In one episode all the townspeople were trapped when the "only bridge out of town" was destroyed (the international airport being across the river). The Movie provided a convenient forest right outside the Simpsons' house for them to escape into (it appears in some other episodes too).
Despite being described as a tiny "jerkwater burg", Springfield has multiple elementary schools, two multiplex cinemas, several universities, an army base, a naval reserve base, an Air Force base, a television studio, a Spanish-language TV station, its own radio market (its jazz station being the most powerful in the US, boasting a broadcast range of a whopping 23 feet), "Area 51-A", the international airport (receiving direct flights from Bombay at 15-minute intervals, plus many other destinations here), a transit system including buses, streetcars, elevated tracks, an abandoned monorail, and two subways (one operational, one abandoned), football, baseball, and basketball stadiums (Springfield was awarded an NFL franchise, and the Basketball stadium was quickly turned into a honey bee sanctuary on opening day), a hockey rink, a Popsicle stick skyscraper, at least two mental hospitals, a house of ill repute, several shopping malls, a dozen correctional facilities, a Red Light District that caters to both human men and dogs, a Friendly Neighborhood Chinatown, Tibettown, Greektown, Little Italy, a Russian district, a Gayborhood, and a Jewish neighborhood; more factories, retail outlets, eateries, museums, theme parks and night schools than most states, as well as vast expanses of desert, lakes, large river (with a dam), forests, chasms, swamps, farmland and blasted heath, and three gigantic mountains that turned up one episode but aren't even visible in the skyline at any other time... The town is also proud to be home to a mountain of burning tires that's continuously burned longer than any other tire fire in the world.
The City of Springfield was moved several miles, lock, stock and barrel, when the entire previous city location had been filled with garbage, and later was completely rebuilt in yet another location known only as "The Outlands". Nobody seems to know just where in America Springfield is, least of all the people who live there. There are 121 towns named Springfield across 34 states in real life.
Technically speaking the geography of the city fits much more with Springfield, Oregon with its proximity to Eugene, Oregon (Shelbyville), which is closest to Groening's home city of Portland, Oregon. The irony of Springfield being an incredibly common name for a city is one thing, but the proximity of ocean, rivers, mountains, fields, lakes, large universities, etc, in addition to a giant pulp mill used by Weyerhauser in precisely the same location looking east. Groening stated in an April 2012 interview that Springfield is indeed named after Springfield, Oregon.
This has been lampshaded in the show for comedic effect:
- "West Springfield", a desert area "three times the size of Texas"
- The "four states" quote at the top (look at a map; Ohio and Kentucky are the only two named that share a border, and are separated by several thousand miles in opposite directions from Nevada and Maine).
- The "Five Corners", the only place in the United States where five states share a border, one of them being Springfield's. When police from all five states show up there, they include stock parodies of Texans, Minnesotans, and New Jerseyans. (There is a real "Four Corners" where Arizona, Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico meet.)
- In one episode, a mobster says that they're smuggling sugar "south of the border", to which Homer replies "You mean Tennessee?" (Of course, Homer is a moron, so one needn't take that as a clue.)
- When the Simpsons go to Brazil in search of an orphan Lisa was sponsoring in Blame It On Lisa, he explains that he never replied to her letters because she didn't say what state she lived in. Her reply is "If you follow the clues you can figure it out." It gives you some idea of just how important protecting the secret is that it can make Lisa Simpson flat-out lie to an orphaned kid, especially in an arguably rude way.
- In "Lisa Gets an A" Superintendent Chalmers says that Springfield Elementary was rated the worst school in Missouri, causing Principal Skinner and Lisa to give him a strange look until he explains that was the reason the school was dismantled and moved to Springfield.
- In one episode where the date for voting is moved up in Springfield before New Hampshire, all the news crews quickly move out and begin to head to Springfield. In response to one anchor's question, "Which Springfield?" The response is, "The one the Simpsons live in!"
- On one instance where the family's entire address is seen on an envelope, the state is abbreviated "NT".
- Northern Territory?
- Northwest Territories? (Although most commonly abbreviated "NWT", "NT" in fact is the official two-letter postal abbreviation for the Northwest Territories).
- Not Telling.
- In a DVD commentary (though not in canon), one of the creative team said that Springfield is in the state of "North Tacoma". There is a region in the US called North Tacoma (in the Pacific Northwest) but it certainly isn't a state.
- In an episode of the 23rd season, it's stated that no one really knows where Springfield is (paraphrasing).
- Homer's driver's license also uses the "NT" abbreviation, though Hans Moleman's and Bart's fake ID simply say "Springfield, USA".
- In "Bart vs. Lisa vs. the Third Grade", it's implied that they live in Springfield, IL when you see the beam from the satellite dish going into outer space.
- Not to mention that their state capital is, in fact, "Capital City." (This seemingly proves that they're not in Illinois, since Illinois's state capital is, in fact, "Springfield.") Their state bird is apparently the pot-bellied sparrow.
- Apparently it's in a northern state, despite having the Confederate Jack as part of their flag.
- In the 11th season episode "Behind The Laughter", the narrator says "the future looks brighter than ever for this Northern Kentucky family." And then to add to the confusion, multiple versions of the line (" the small island of Lanai ") were recorded for syndication and are available on the 11th season DVD set.
- At the end of "Kill the Alligator and Run", the Simpsons are banned from ever returning to Florida. In the final scene of the episode, Marge is standing next to a map of the United States, with 48 of the states crossed off, leaving North Dakota and Arizona as the only states they haven't been banned from. Bart gives good reasons why they should never go there in the first place, and she crosses them off too.
- In "Sunday, Cruddy Sunday", Marge lists off her address in order for a company to send mail her something, but dodges the topic with a Last-Second Word Swap.
Marge: 742 Evergreen Terrace, Springfield, Oh hiya Maude, come on in!
- In the Family Guy crossover, the Griffins reach it fairly quickly from Quahog, Rhode Island. That would seem to suggest Springfield, Massachusetts.
- In "The Mysterious Voyage of Homer", Marge finds Homer at the lighthouse because Springfield slopes downhill to the west, implying it's (most likely) on the west coast.
- In "Bart on the Road", Bart and friends take a rented car on a road trip to Knoxville, Tennessee over spring break. The ride takes a few days, and on the way they pass what appears to be the corn belt and Branson, Missouri. So presumably they're to the West of that region (assuming they weren't simply driving in circles).
- In "Marge in Chains", a sign states that Springfield is approximately 678 miles from Mexico City, placing it around southern Texas.
- In "Much Apu About Nothing", Homer tells Apu that, as part of his citizenship test, he might be asked to point where Springfield is. Homer goes all over the map without finding it, before Lisa tells him he is pointing out in the opposite direction. Just as Lisa points out where it is, Bart's head blocks the sight.
- The accents of local Springfieldians are all over the place. Ned Flanders sounds kind of Southern but his wife is more Midwestern. Chief Wiggum sounds like a New Yorker. Moe sounds sort of Brooklynese. Mayor Quimby is stereotypical Boston Brahmin. Sideshow Bob and his family are sort of mid-Atlantic, as is Mr. Burns. Fat Tony is clearly Chicagoan. Snake is a mix of Surfer Dude and Cockney English. The Spucklers are very Deep Southern. At least a few of those characters are descended from families who have been in Springfield for generations.