Pay Tribute to a Place Without Using a Place Name

Vancouver, named for a George

Most of us have met people with names like Dallas, Savannah and Montana. I’ve even spotted personal names like Barcelona, Helsinki, Bronx, Mattawa and Cape Cod before. Place names pop up on birth certificates regularly nowadays.

But locational baby names don’t appeal to all parents-to-be. What if you’re not a fan of place names for people, but you’d still like to pay tribute to a particular place with your baby’s name? (Confusing situation, no?) Here are some things you could try:

Look at Old Names
Has the place ever been called anything else? An earlier name might work as a baby name.

This was how Florence Nightingale’s older sister Frances Parthenope Nightingale was named. Frances was born in the Italian city of Naples. Her middle name comes from the name of an ancient Greek settlement that was located where Naples is today. (Florence had it easy; she was simply born in Florence.)

Here are some other locations with intriguing retired names:

  • Corvallis, Oregon, used to be called Marysville.
  • Coulterville, California, was originally Maxwell’s Creek.
  • Halden, Norway, was once known as Fredrikshald.
  • Cologne, Germany, was called Colonia Claudia Ara Agrippinensium by the Romans.
  • Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, was founded as Port Clarence by the British and later known as Santa Isabel by the Spanish.

Look at Namesakes
Was the place named after a person? That person’s first name may make a good baby name.

For instance, let’s say you met your spouse aboard a flight from JFK to Long Beach. That place where you met–a Boeing 757–can trace its name back to William Edward Boeing, founder of the Boeing Company.

Here are some other examples:

  • Burbank, California, was first settled by dentist David Burbank.
  • Wrigley Field, Chicago, named for William Wrigley, Jr.
  • Vancouver Island, Canada, was named for explorer George Vancouver.
  • Lake Champlain was named for French explorer Samuel de Champlain.
  • The Bering Strait was named for Vitus Bering.

Zoom In
Maybe the place you want to honor happens to be a city park. What’s inside that park? Many parks have statues, plazas, fountains, promenades, bandshells, and other notable features and facilities. Are any of these things particularly important to you? If so, what are they called? Who created them?

Zoom Out
Let’s stick with the city park example. What makes up the borders of the park–streets? A body of water? What neighborhood or district is it in? What county? Is there anything notable nearby (like a theater or a school) that has a usable name?

So those are my four ideas. What others ways can you come up with to signify a location with a baby name (without using the place name itself)?

One thought on “Pay Tribute to a Place Without Using a Place Name

  1. What cool ideas! There’s also the city’s patron saint. I realize this might not appeal to everyone, but it can make for a great name. Genevieve is the patron saint of Paris; Mark is the patron saint of Venice.

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