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May 21, 2012 11:23 AM   Subscribe

What are good examples of City/Country/Place nicknames that natives never use?

I just spent some time in Boston and several of my friends (who don't live there) referred to it as "Beantown." I asked my friend, a Boston native, if people from Boston ever actually use the term "Beantown" and he said that, to his knowledge, they didn't. This got me thinking, since I'm from the SF Bay Area and you can certainly tell a tourist from any reference to "San Fran". Same with "The Big Apple" and NYC. How about Chicago; do natives actually refer to "The Windy City"? Was Mindy off base when she referred to Capital City as "The Windy Apple"?

How about other examples of this phenomenon - location nicknames that no one in that location actually uses?
posted by Betelgeuse to Society & Culture (89 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
 
Also, "Frisco" for San Francisco
posted by deanc at 11:25 AM on May 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


No, Chicagoans don't generally call it the windy city.

What about things like Ayers Rock being called Uluru?
posted by cmoj at 11:26 AM on May 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


This is more of a pronunciation quirk than a nickname, but nobody I know from St. Louis says it "Saint Louie." It ends with the "s" sound.
posted by lisa g at 11:26 AM on May 21, 2012


Came here to say Frisco. On a more localized level, people in Santa Monica never say "SaMo" ("sammo"), as it is often abbreviated in the press.
posted by mykescipark at 11:27 AM on May 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


Agree with lisa g: most St. Louisans hate "St. Louie."
posted by zsazsa at 11:30 AM on May 21, 2012


I've never heard anyone refer to Vancouver, BC as "Terminal City" in conversation.
posted by Lorin at 11:31 AM on May 21, 2012


People from Detroit do not say DEE-troit.
posted by The World Famous at 11:32 AM on May 21, 2012 [4 favorites]


I have it on good authority that locals would never say N'awlins or The Big Easy.
posted by catatethebird at 11:32 AM on May 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


Toronto = T-dot
Montreal = M-real

Oh wait, I've only ever heard my one friend use those names. Though he's from Toronto. So maybe it doesn't quite fit your criteria.
posted by Grither at 11:33 AM on May 21, 2012


A few Chicagoans - mostly sports enthusiasts and drunk frat boys - call it "chi-town." It's insufferable.
posted by crankyrogalsky at 11:35 AM on May 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


Here to second what catatethebird said: I've never heard a local say N'awlins or The Big Easy. You may occasionally find written reference to The Crescent City but it's certainly not used in conversation.
posted by komara at 11:35 AM on May 21, 2012


I've never heard anyone in Boston call it "Beantown."
posted by ignignokt at 11:35 AM on May 21, 2012


Perhaps a bit off-topic, but no one ever called the hallway outside the Ways and Means Committee "Gucci Gulch" -- certainly no longtime Hill staffer of the sort seldom seen today. Murray and Birnbaum coined the term.

And the only people who refer to areas adjacent to Massachusetts Avenue as "SoMa" and "NoMa" moved here in the last several years, no matter what the New York Avenue Metro sign says!
posted by jgirl at 11:36 AM on May 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


I feel like when people from outside of the Twin Cities in Minnesota head to the Twin Cities, they don't say "Twin Cities," they tend to say, "I'm going to the Cities."
posted by This_Will_Be_Good at 11:36 AM on May 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


Whoops, Never mind. Read your question, the promptly forgot your example!
posted by ignignokt at 11:36 AM on May 21, 2012


Naptown or Indy-no-place for Indianapolis.
Unless you're in the 70's. Then all the cool kids called it Naptown
posted by Thorzdad at 11:38 AM on May 21, 2012


The few Los Angeles denizens whom I've heard say "La-La Land" and "Hollyweird" seemed to be woefully out of touch, and most of them were from somewhere else and had just heard those terms on TV.

Same with "Zoo York."
posted by hermitosis at 11:38 AM on May 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


"The Big Apple" is actually used at times by local TV newscasters, and in proper nouns (e.g., The Big Apple Circus), but not so much in casual conversation that I can recall.
posted by chengjih at 11:41 AM on May 21, 2012


New Yorkers do not refer to the Avenue of the Americas, its Sixth Avenue.
posted by shothotbot at 11:41 AM on May 21, 2012 [9 favorites]


I grew up in Georgia. First of all, it's Add-lanna, not At-lanta, and second of all, the only people I've ever heard say "Hotlanta" are recent (moved there as 20/30something adults) additions to the city.
posted by phunniemee at 11:42 AM on May 21, 2012


In NYC, nobody says "Clinton" to refer to "Hell's Kitchen."

Also in NYC, there are all sorts of names for the Avenues that are on all the tourist maps that nobody ever uses. Nobody says I'll meet you at 48th and Fashion Avenue, or Avenue of the Americas or whatever they try and call them.

It also seems that there are also tons of old neighborhood names that people once used in NYC (and a few older generations still do), that are really no longer used as the neighborhood boundaries have fade a bit (e.g. Kips Bay, Yorkville, etc).
posted by This_Will_Be_Good at 11:42 AM on May 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


Calling Southern California SoCal.
posted by thebestsophist at 11:43 AM on May 21, 2012


I think you'll find that most place nicknames are NOT used by natives. They're just too close, the place just is. You're more likely to just hear "The City", as is the case with both New Yorkers and Chicagoans.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 11:43 AM on May 21, 2012 [4 favorites]


Here's a very long AskMe on "pejorative" nicknames for cities (over 200 comments). It's not the exact same question, but I'll bet a lot of the answers fit the bill. (However, this isn't universally true for pejoratives: Madison, WI residents very often call it "Madtown," and some Albany, NY residents call it "Smallbany.")
posted by John Cohen at 11:46 AM on May 21, 2012


When I lived in Dallas, I never heard anyone call it "Big D".

Most people I know from New Orleans seem to call it "N'orlins" rather than "N'awlins".
posted by MexicanYenta at 11:47 AM on May 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


Portland, OR is "Stumptown" and "the Rose City" but I only ever see these on businesses, never hear them in casual conversation. stupidsexyFlanders probably has the right of it.
posted by curious nu at 11:49 AM on May 21, 2012


No one who actually lived in Orange County, California ever referred to it as "The O.C." until the television show.
posted by infinitywaltz at 11:54 AM on May 21, 2012


I've never heard a local say N'awlins...

I have to admit, I was surprised to see not one but two people say this. Are we talking about cajun locals, African American locals, or some other category? Because those on the side of my family who are of Irish/Italian descent but are born and raised New Orleans folk (well, Metarie, and one couple in Slidell) absolutely do say that. N'awlins isn't a nickname, it's just their accent.

On preview, MexicanYenta may be on to something. I guess maybe there's a hint of an "r" in the way they say it, but it's a swallowed "r" at best.
posted by solotoro at 11:55 AM on May 21, 2012


East Village for Lower East Side.
posted by mareli at 11:56 AM on May 21, 2012


I'm not aware of any of my fellow Kentuckians who think of themselves as living in the bluegrass.
posted by jbickers at 11:56 AM on May 21, 2012


I grew up in the Soviet-emigre community and I have never heard of anyone referring to Brooklyn's Brighton Beach as "Little Odessa."
posted by griphus at 11:57 AM on May 21, 2012


When traveling in Africa I heard many people in countries not South Africa refer to Johannesburg as JoBurg. I only stayed one night IN that city though so I can't say if the locals use the phrase or not.
posted by fogonlittlecatfeet at 11:58 AM on May 21, 2012


Oh, and one other good NYC example that is a bit of a mix of both in the same place: there is a major generational gap in what certain people call the subways. Many older New Yorkers still refer to various subway lines by the names they were referred to before they were consolidated by the City. So, you will often hear them call the subway lines the IND, BMT and IRT. Vestiges of these names are still located throughout the system, and even though the current names have been in place for decades you will still occasionally hear them pop up.
posted by This_Will_Be_Good at 12:01 PM on May 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


I've heard locals call Atlanta "Hotlanta," but only when it's literally 100+ sweltering degrees outside. Sexy-Hot, not so much.

Oh, and when a freak snowstorm iced the city into helplessness last February. Then it was HOTHlanta.
posted by nicebookrack at 12:04 PM on May 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


My experience is that for anything that "no one" says, some people actually do. For example, I've heard more than one Bay Area native say, "Frisco."

Somewhat related: Everyone in L.A. refers to freeways as "The ____," using the number and not the proper name.

Always "The 405," never "405," never ever "San Diego Freeway."
posted by drjimmy11 at 12:06 PM on May 21, 2012 [4 favorites]


I've never heard anyone refer to Charlestown as "The Town" outside of the eponymous movie. And while it used to be known as "Allston Rock City", it seems that people have abandoned that moniker in favor of "Allston Rat City" - there's been a bit of a rodent problem since Harvard started digging up the ground and abandoning their construction projects. I doubt many lifelong residents would refer to Somerville as "Slummerville", but I do hear it occasionally (and use it more frequently).

On the flip side, it's very easy to tell when you're talking to an outsider/tourist because they tend not to use the shortened versions of local neighborhoods and landmarks (Rozzie/Roslindale comes to mind, as does asking for "Massachusetts Avenue" instead of Mass Ave).
posted by backseatpilot at 12:07 PM on May 21, 2012


While many are alarmingly friendly no one calls Buffalo the City of Good Neighbors.
posted by munchingzombie at 12:17 PM on May 21, 2012


I know plenty of Dallasites who will occasionally refer to the city as Big D. Sometimes they'll start the whole song while they're at it.
posted by katemonster at 12:20 PM on May 21, 2012


My experience is that for anything that "no one" says, some people actually do. For example, I've heard more than one Bay Area native say, "Frisco."

I have heard some people say Frisco but they have always been immediatley corrected. I have corrected people in the past, but I confess I was thinking "Why am I doing this? Do I really care what people call San Francisco?" I had no good answer and spiralled into bleakness, questioning my very existence.
posted by Kafkaesque at 12:20 PM on May 21, 2012 [6 favorites]


Although referenced alot for tourism and historical reasons, few people refer to Ottawa (Ontario) as "Bytown".
posted by BozoBurgerBonanza at 12:22 PM on May 21, 2012


mareli: "East Village for Lower East Side"

East Village is north of Houston to 14th, Lower East Side is south of Houston.
posted by Grither at 12:25 PM on May 21, 2012 [4 favorites]


In the US, many suburban and ex-urban towns have developer-created neighborhoods with fancy names and elaborate signage near the main entrance. Many seem to be named after fancy country like Oak Tree Estates and Running River Farms or something like that. No one tends to use these names except realtors and people who are overly invested in the homeowners' association.
Similarly, there was been a big push to nickname the downtown area of my town "The District". The downtown business developer types are behind it, and you can pretty much guess that the people who use that term are the kind of people who rarely actually go downtown to shop or eat there. The rest of us just roll our eyes, because "downtown" served well enough to describe the area. It's not like there's another one in town.
posted by aabbbiee at 12:27 PM on May 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


Sorry for all the typos in there. I edited too quickly.
posted by aabbbiee at 12:28 PM on May 21, 2012


Only the local press refers to Boston as The Hub.
posted by Dragonness at 12:28 PM on May 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


I grew up near Atlanta. Never heard anybody call it The ATL or Hotlanta except in jest.

Now I live hear Boston, where (on preview, as Dragonness said) only the local media calls it The Hub.
posted by Nothlit at 12:36 PM on May 21, 2012


In Southern California, the state colleges are called "Cal State [location]" (for example, Cal State Fullerton) instead of "[Location] State" -- I found that very confusing when I moved in Northern California and listened to sports reports.
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 12:37 PM on May 21, 2012


I think you're confusing literary expressions with nicknames used by the local population.

There's no reason to call New York "The Big Apple" in casual conversation, the way one might say "NYC", "the city", "Manhattan", "The Upper West Side", etc. It's long and too unspecific.

The Big Apple doesn't come from casual local parlance, it comes from writers making pretty words. And in that sense, of course "locals" use it -- if you need a fancy sounding synonym for New York, it's right there along with Gotham and The City That Never Sleeps.

The Windy City, Motown, The City That Care Forgot (New Orleans), etc. all fall into the literary nickname category, not the "what we call ourselves" category.
posted by Sara C. at 12:39 PM on May 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


In Chicago, Sears Tower is not "Willis Tower", nor is Comiskey Park known as "U.S. Cellular Field". I think a lot of stadiums will never be called by their corporate names.

Realtors in New York like to make up neighborhood names. My Brooklyn neighborhood is supposedly "Bococa." I've never heard that word spoken out loud.
posted by hooray at 12:45 PM on May 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


Re N'awlins:

In my experience (raised in a family of Cajun truck farmers and relatively recent -- i.e. post-New Deal -- transplants to the city), it's pronounced more like Nuh-WOR-linz or Nuh-WAHL-inz.

I'll take N'awlins to mean any smooshing together and slurring of the syllables in dialect. It's sort of the New Orleanian version of Noo Yawk or Lawn Guy Land. Maybe it's not pronounced EXACTLY that way, but it gets the point across.
posted by Sara C. at 12:47 PM on May 21, 2012


When I was a kid, only tourists to Wyoming called the resort town near Yellowstone "Jackson Hole". For locals, year-round it was just Jackson.

(OK and I'm such science fiction nerd and so in love with Lois McMasater Bujold's writing that I told myself not to type the planet's name-- Jackson's Whole. And I still did it, and had to go back and type in the correct Earth spelling.)
posted by seasparrow at 12:51 PM on May 21, 2012


Which brings us to the fact that few people living in the area designated South Brooklyn actually refers to it as "South Brooklyn" because it's nowhere near geographic south Brooklyn.
posted by griphus at 12:52 PM on May 21, 2012


(Whoops, I mean to quote hooray's answer.)
posted by griphus at 12:53 PM on May 21, 2012


East Village didn't exist as a place name until 1960s.
posted by mareli at 1:01 PM on May 21, 2012


A slight deviation (hopefully not a derail), but during the decade I lived in Chicago, the only people I ever heard refer to the city+suburbs as "Chicagoland" were suburban newscasters and advertisers.
posted by brianogilvie at 1:23 PM on May 21, 2012


Here's an interesting one: St Barths or St Barth's are anglicized non-native names for the island known as Saint-Barthélemy or St Barth in French. Its correct English name is St Barts.
posted by Dragonness at 1:24 PM on May 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


The OC. Don't call it that.

I've heard SoCal/Socal used by natives, usually in the Great Debate of Norcal vs. Socal. Cali is something I've only heard tourists say.
posted by book 'em dano at 1:32 PM on May 21, 2012 [4 favorites]


San Francisco is either 'San Francisco' or 'The City'. Those are the only two options. 'San Fran' is even more offensive than 'Frisco' (but only slightly).
posted by trip and a half at 2:01 PM on May 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


(And yes, some of us are still vainly trying to stave off the use of the definite article for freeways that are already defined by their unique numbers, dammit! But it is a losing battle against infiltrators from the OC and the LoCal. The geeze.)
posted by trip and a half at 2:11 PM on May 21, 2012


> Nuh-WAHL-inz

That right there is what I hear more often than anything.

N'awlins sounds like a Georgia Peach accent, something a distinguished southerner would say. We don't have those here. Here you find remnants of some angular immigrant accents (think Brooklyn/Bronx) drawled out just a bit. Slow Yankee. The stereotypical yat accent. When I call my car repair place the lady says "----'s Automotive, Darlene speaking" and it comes out as 'daah-LEEN' with no R in sight.

I guess it's just easier for people to write N'awlins.

I myself will now switch to writing nuh-WAHL-inz, as that nails it better than anything I've been able to spell out.
posted by komara at 2:12 PM on May 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


Nobody calls California "Cali" (unless they live far from California).
posted by Rash at 2:15 PM on May 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


I've only heard broadcasters/anchorbots in L.A. refer to Southern California as "the Southland."
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 2:24 PM on May 21, 2012


I've never heard 'the Emerald Isle' used by anyone from Ireland, outside of shameless tourist marketing or the kind of faux-poetic awkward nerd who'd call women 'females'.
posted by carbide at 2:57 PM on May 21, 2012


Alaskan natives and Alaskans generally refer to the big mountain as Denali, not Mt. McKinley.
posted by 6550 at 3:07 PM on May 21, 2012


Interesting how many comments there are about New Orleans. Born and raised in New Orleans, I have heard natives refer to the city as "The Big Sleazy". Note, if an outsider (3 generations born in New Orleans at the minimum), would use that expression, there would be hell to pay.

"Proud to call it home" has been localized to "Proud to crawl home" (Bars are open 24 hours)

French Quarter...note there is no S on the end of Quarter. Natives usually refer to the French Quarter as the Quarter.
posted by JujuB at 3:09 PM on May 21, 2012


"Hogtown" for Toronto? Nobody calls it that.

I have heard 905-ers (people from the suburbs) and teenagers call it the Tdot.
posted by Miss T.Horn at 3:22 PM on May 21, 2012


The rest of New Mexico calls Santa Fe "The City Different."
posted by ke rose ne at 3:23 PM on May 21, 2012


Oh, and like Stumptown for Portland, no one ever says The Emerald City for Seattle but it's common in names of businesses.
posted by ke rose ne at 3:27 PM on May 21, 2012


You may be able to buy a 'Philly cheesesteak', but DON'T call the city Philly!

And that airport right outside DC? The one that Reaganites forced the name change on? That's still National Airport to any longtimer, NEVER 'Reagan-National'.
posted by easily confused at 3:38 PM on May 21, 2012


I was just coming here to say that the only people I know who call it "Reagan" are the ones who moved in from the suburbs or after college! And yeah, man, "NoMa," that's a weird new one. The only times I ever hear "Chocolate City" are usually news reports, though I think it was more widely touted in the past. I did hear a lot of DMV in high school.

(That said I now live in the north around Philadelphia's suburbs and have local friends/partner/roommate and everyone calls it Philly-- maybe it's more regionalized? Then again I still call it the R5...)
posted by jetlagaddict at 3:49 PM on May 21, 2012


London isn't called "the big smoke" by anyone I've ever met. But I do know people who refer to it as "town", and oddly it's somewhere you "go up to" (town or London). The City of London is, or at least was, called The Square Mile by Londoners though.
posted by cromagnon at 3:51 PM on May 21, 2012


The capitol of South Dakota is Pierre. Most people say it like a French name: Pee-Air. But my mom grew up there and the locals all call it Peer.
posted by tacodave at 4:01 PM on May 21, 2012


jbickers, maybe not in Louisville so much, but in and around Lexington, yeah, maybe. "Bluegrass" gets used for loads of things. For instance, we have Bluegrass Airport. The Bluegrass State Games should be starting soon, and lots of businesses are Bluegrass This or Bluegrass That or Bluegrass The Other. The pronunciation of "Louisville" is kind of a shibboleth, though.
posted by dilettante at 4:12 PM on May 21, 2012


I grew up in LA and we said SoCal all the time (I've never heard anyone say NoCal, though. Huh). I've also been known to say Cali.
It's fun to watch everyone say "no one ever says [blank] unless they don't belong here."
posted by purpletangerine at 4:58 PM on May 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


I live in LA and I hear people in and from LA and Orange County say "SoCal" all the time. And my friends from the Bay Area have T-Shirts and belt buckles that say "NorCal," and they say it in conversation, as well.
posted by The World Famous at 5:09 PM on May 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


I did hear a lot of DMV in high school.

I've only heard that in the last 3 or 4 years. I don't like that, either.

If I had a lawn, I wouldn't want those kids on it.
posted by jgirl at 5:10 PM on May 21, 2012


I did hear a lot of DMV in high school.

Huh. I've lived here since 2001 and only started hearing it in the past 2-3 years. (Every time I do, I have a moment where I wonder why so many people are talking about the Department of Motor Vehicles.) I also still call the airport National, not Reagan.

Also, please don't say "our nation's capital." Yeeeeargh. No.
posted by timetoevolve at 5:35 PM on May 21, 2012


In the movie Young Adult, Minneapolis is referred to as "the Minneapple," which I found amusing.
posted by easy, lucky, free at 5:47 PM on May 21, 2012


No one in New Jersey says 'Joisey', because that's not how 'Jersey' sounds with our accent, though people not from around here LOVE to say that.
posted by rachaelfaith at 5:56 PM on May 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


I don't know what you're talking about, we call it Philly all the time. Thinking about it more, it might be used mostly used when speaking about more than one city. If talking about going into the city, most of the people I can think of would say "going downtown" or "going into town", both of which work in the neighborhoods to refer to Center City (the marketing term). And lots of people write "Phila." because Philadelphia is a long long word.
posted by sepviva at 6:31 PM on May 21, 2012


hooray: "In Chicago, Sears Tower is not "Willis Tower", nor is Comiskey Park known as "U.S. Cellular Field.""

THIS. And Rosemont Horizon is not known as "Allstate Arena."

Also, I generally do not hear people call Chicago "Chi-Town."

And the expressways and tollways around here are not called by numbers, but by names.
posted by SisterHavana at 10:41 PM on May 21, 2012


It makes me want to step out into rush hour traffic when I hear someone call Cincinnati "the 'Nati."
posted by OHSnap at 10:58 PM on May 21, 2012


San Francisco is either 'San Francisco' or 'The City'. Those are the only two options. 'San Fran' is even more offensive than 'Frisco' (but only slightly).

Natives will call it SF. But, yes, never San Fran or Frisco.
posted by ewiar at 11:46 PM on May 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


Re: Portland, Oregon, we have a lot of nicknames, but I think we're much more likely to refer to it as "PDX" than any of the longer sobriquets. With the exception of "Little Beirut," they all get a fair bit of play, though "Stumptown" has become trickier since the coffee roaster's rise to bi-coastal prominence, and "Rip City" is really only used in the context of basketball.
posted by mumkin at 11:53 PM on May 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


São Paulo, "land of drizzle". This is from some old 40s samba lyrics, but the weather patterns have changed and it doesn't drizzle as much nowadays. Still, it's an official nickname, it's even on the wikipedia page.
posted by Tom-B at 3:52 AM on May 22, 2012


N'awlins isn't a nickname, it's just their accent.

Meaning, if you don't have the accent, you shouldn't say it that way.

A slight deviation (hopefully not a derail), but during the decade I lived in Chicago, the only people I ever heard refer to the city+suburbs as "Chicagoland" were suburban newscasters and advertisers.


The times are changing. That used to be a rule, but it is slipping and becoming more and more acceptable. As is the "shih-CAW-go" pronunciation. It is shifting to "shih-CAH-go" or "she-CAH-go" or even "chee-CAH-go". To my great dismay....
posted by gjc at 5:58 AM on May 22, 2012


In the movie Young Adult, Minneapolis is referred to as "the Minneapple," which I found amusing.

That was a state tourism schtick from like 1980; there were mugs and such, and even a faux New Yorker Map Cover! http://nokohaha.com/2011/01/23/the-minneapple/

I was thinking of mentioning it, too. :7)
posted by wenestvedt at 6:49 AM on May 22, 2012


As a 50+ year old native of CA, I will often use "SoCA" in written form, but never out loud. I am also loathe to inform that I have heard several of my younger acquaintances use "Cali" in both written and verbal form. Where the hell did that even come from?
posted by jvilter at 6:56 AM on May 22, 2012


I am also loathe to inform that I have heard several of my younger acquaintances use "Cali" in both written and verbal form. Where the hell did that even come from?

If by "younger" you mean "in their 40s," it came from L.L. Cool J.
posted by The World Famous at 7:52 AM on May 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Every time I do, I have a moment where I wonder why so many people are talking about the Department of Motor Vehicles.

It's apparently viable there since the MD DMV's name was changed to the Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) many years ago. However, I prefer the older term for the penninsula, DelMarVa -- restaurant's in OC used to say they were DelMarVa-lous!
posted by Rash at 8:24 AM on May 22, 2012


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