5.24.2006

What's in a Name No.5: City Nicknames

Almost every upstate city large and small has a nickname. We've all heard at least one of these names in the past, but many contemporary York Staters don't think much about their somewhat anachronistic origins (many of these names refer to the now long-gone industry that put the city on the map.) The upstate city identities of the past may well be a valuable consideration as we examine our York State identity today, and so for the fifth installment in our What's in a Name series, we bring you city nicknames.

Amsterdam: The Carpet City
Many of the now empty factories that comprise Amsterdam's skyline were once humming with the production of carpets.

Binghamton: The Parlor City
This city name is drawn from the city's many stately homes at the height of its importance as an industrial center. Several of these are now funeral parlors. Also known as The Carousel Capital of the World.*

Buffalo: The City of Good Neighbors
Unlike many of the other upstate city nicknames, Buffalo's City of Good Neighbors moniker is predicated on the inhabitants friendly dispositions and helpful nature.

Cortland: The Crown City
This name comes from Cortland's geographic location at 1,130 feet above sea level, making it the crowning city of New York State. (Fun Fact: rocker Ronnie James Dio grew up in Cortland.)

Rochester: The Flower City
Rochester was first known as The Flour City for its numerous mills that shipped flour down the Erie Canal. By the 1850s, the importance of the milling industry had declined - meanwhile, several seed producers in the city had grown to be the largest in the world, leading Rochester to change its name from the Flour to the Flower City.

Saratoga Springs: The Spa City
Refers to the towns prominence as a destination to take to the 'healing waters' that led to its dominence as a resort town.

Schenectady: The Electric City
Home of General Electric.

Syracuse: The Salt City
Syracuse was a major producer of the nation's salt, which was crucial to preserving meat in a pre-refridgeration era.

Troy: The Collar City
I think the Troy Polloi put it well when they wrote: "As everyone knows, Troy is called 'The Collar City' because of the number of arrests that occur each year. That's not true. Troy is called "The Collar City" because the city was once a leading manufacturer of..............zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz."* Seriously though, the "Collar City" name comes from city's once major industry of detachable collars for men's shirts, an innovation that was born in Troy and gave rise to the term "white collar" to denote a class of worker. A thorough article about the collar industry's history can be found here.

Some other nicknames which fall under the catagory of bold pronoucments include Jamestown: The Furniture Capital of the World, Fulton (Oswego County): The City with a Future, Geneva: Lake Trout Capital of the World, and Florida (Orange County): The Onion Capital of the World (See Wikipedia's list of city nicknames)

If there are any notable nicknames I've forgotten, please leave us a comment, and join us next time for What's in a Name.

Posted by Natalie

*But as any Johnson City or Endicott resident would be quick to point out, many of these carousels are outside the Binghamton city limits.
*In this same post, there were suggestions for a new Troy nickname, my favorite was "Where Henry Hudson Turned Around"

7 comments:

Pat said...

Sherrill is called the "Silver City" because it is the home of Oneida Ltd. whose production of silverware brought worldwide attention to New York's smallest city.

Patrick J. said...

Buffalo is also called the Queen City.

Jesse said...

My hometown is Johnson City: The Gateway to the Square Deal Towns; together with Endicott we are "The Home of the Square Deal." It all goes back to the Square Deal policy of the Endicott-Johnson Shoe Company, an experiment in Progressive corporate largess and included decent pay, 8-hour work week, health care and similar perks.

joe said...

I think norwich might be the smallest 'city' in new york, i guess the only criteria is that it be called a city and Johnson City doesn't count cuz it's the village of Johnson City.

Natalie said...

Joe, According to Wikipedia, the prize for city smallness goes to the Silver City, Sherrill

grit said...

Canajoharie was called "Flavor-Town" due to the Beechnut factory there.

Emily said...

'Flavor Town" is my favorite nickname. :)