The sincerest form of flattery

IMG_20140702_162619A couple of days after crossing our latest continent, Limonada, Loquita, Ninja and I spent some time visiting el Guapo’s parents in Leeds, but not the one in West Yorkshire, England, home to almost 800,000 people. El Guapo’s pater and mater are currently residents  of Leeds, Utah, home to a thousand times fewer people (well, nearly: population stats from 2012 say 837). Many of them were probably at the recent 4th of July pot luck picnic.

It’s a bit hard to compare the weather of these two places straight across using Google because of the 7 hour time difference (type the name of a community into your search bar, and a neat little summary of current conditions should appear on the right side of your screen). Yesterday afternoon when I checked, things had already cooled off in the British Isles, to 64°F, 18°C, but I don’t imagine their high temperature that day got very close to temperatures in Leeds Utah, 106°F, 41°C at 5 pm. Following the orders-of-magnitude difference in population between the two places is their difference in humidity. The thriving metrop in West Yorkshire measured 93% humidity yesterday, while its offspring hamlet in Southern Utah registered 9%. Despite sharing their name, they’re very different places.*

Of course, the British Leeds and the Southern Utah Leeds are far from being the only town twins: there are hundreds. In just a few minutes of searching, I learned that there’s an Athens in Alabama as well as Greece, a Dublin in California as well as Ireland, and a Venice in both Florida and Italy. You can find Smyrna in both Delaware and Turkey, and a Bremen in Georgia and Germany.

I don’t think the Troys in Idaho or Michigan or  New York have ever seen the sort of drama surrounding the ancient Troy in what is now Turkey. And I assume the Warsaws in Indiana and Illinois have tamer histories than that in Poland. Iowa has got a Lisbon, a Luxemburg and a Madrid. There’s a Moscow in Kansas as well as one in Idaho. There’s a Glasgow in Kentucky.

If you’re of a mind to visit Paris, don’t limit your options: you can find one in both Ontario and Yukon, Canada; in Kiribati (which I had to look up–it’s an island in the central tropical pacific), Arkansas, Illinois, Idaho, Kentucky, Maine (which also has both West and South Paris), Minnesota, Missouri, New York, Ohio, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and Wisconsin (two count). At the end of that list comes a list of less important places called Paris in the US, presumably to distinguish them from the important places already listed.

Coming back to the subject of Leeds , you can find one in Alabama, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, and two in North Dakota, 4 in Wisconsin.We might begin to wonder whether at the time of the naming of those communities, people felt very reluctant about risking something new, and just decided to stick with something that had a little history.

Because a lot of my own ancestors came from England, I was curious about English town names that also made their way across the Atlantic. Wikipedia has an admittedly incomplete list, but it’s still very long. The practice of naming American towns after English ones is found throughout the United States. Some states have only a few: Wyoming has 3, Utah has 4, South Dakota has 5. In contrast, Virginia has 28, New York 81, Pennsylvania 87, Ohio 92, and Massachusetts a whopping 113 (out of 351 total). It may be New England, but they certainly favored ye olde England when it came to be christening time.

There are lots more out there that I haven’t mentioned, including all those with “new” as a prefix, and ones that are no longer around (New Amsterdam, anyone?) I’m curious to hear about twin town names that have caught your eye, or ear. Many names are spelled the same but pronounced quite differently. Berlin, MA has an accent on the first syllable, not the second. Let’s see what you’ve noticed.


Paris, Texas

*understanding what is meant by those humidity percentages isn’t necessarily intuitive. They refer to a comparison of the amount of water vapor present in the air compared to the maximum amount it can hold. Maximum humidity depends on temperature, with hotter air able to hold more water.  My weather news source will give temperature, and then add that because of wind chill it feels X number of degrees colder. I haven’t paid attention to humidity language on the site up to this point, but can say from my own experience that a high temperature at 9% humidity makes you feel like you’re going to fry; a high temperature at relatively high humidity makes you feel like you’re going to mold, and my guess is that a high temperature at 93% humidity would make you feel like you were going to die, or perhaps that you already had, and were commencing to decompose.

3 thoughts on “The sincerest form of flattery

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