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A weekly show where knowledge junkies get their fix of trivia-tastic information. This week, John looks at 25 towns that made some interesting naming choices.
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John: Hi, I'm John Green, welcome to my salon, this is mental_floss on YouTube, and did you know that in 2005, the town of Clark, Texas officially renamed itself to Dish, Texas?  The satellite TV company Dish Network offered residents free service and equipment in exchange for the rename.  The agreement ends this year and the town hasn't yet decided whether to renew the deal or become Clark again.  And that's the first of many towns that changed their names that we're gonna learn about in today's video.  

(mental_floss intro plays)

John: You'll remember from our episode on the 50 states that Topeka, Kansas once briefly changed its name to Google in order to encourage Google to install Fiber internet there.  That's how desperate we are for real broadband.  

In 1950, the television show Truth or Consequences was about to celebrate its ten year anniversary, so it offered to broadcast its anniversary episode from any American town that would change its name to Truth or Consequences.  Hot Springs, New Mexico won and has kept the name ever since.

There's a Beverly Hills in New South Wales, Australia.  The town was originally called Dumbleton, but the citizens hated it, so they renamed it Beverly Hills in 1931 after the town in California because they associated it with Hollywood glamour.  Little did they know if they'd just stuck with Dumbleton, one day, they would be associated with the greatest headmaster that Hogwarts has ever known!

Although locals still call it Gay Head, Massachusetts, the town was officially renamed Aquinnah thanks to a town vote in 1997.  Now, people believe it's because the original name sounded risque, but the man who started the petition to change it didn't cite that as a reason.  His rationale was this is an Indian place and it should have an Indian name.

In 2015, the city of Oregon, Ohio had a problem.  The Ohio State Buckeyes were set to play the University of Oregon Ducks in the college national football championship.  So the city officially renamed itself Oregon, Ohio, Buckeyes on the Bay, City of Duck Hunters, for about a week, and sure enough, Ohio State won the national championship that year.  

The village of Cross Keys, Pennsylvania renamed itself Intercourse in 1814.  According to the village's website, there are a few theories about why the name was chosen.  One is because the word 'Intercourse' means 'social interaction and support'.  You know, like Batman and Robin's relationship.  

Speaking of Pennsylvania, the town Eighty Four, Pennsylvania used to be called Smithville, but it turned out that there was another Smithville, so it was renamed in 1884.  The new name also might have had something to do with that being the year that the great Grover Cleveland was elected to the presidency.  Smithville, now Eighty Four, was just so excited.  Who could blame the residents of the former Smithville for being so incredibly excited about the election of the great Grover Cleveland, who has the best first name of all the presidents?  You heard me, Millard Fillmore.  

Anyway, in 1995, Bombay, India officially became Mumbai.  This happened because the Hindu Nationalist Party Shiv Sena got control of the state assembly around that time.  They believed that Bombay was a reminder of British colonial rule, so they switched it to Mumbai, a reference to the Koli goddess Mumbadevi.

Holyoke, Massachusetts used to be called Ireland, because of all the Irish immigrants who lived there, but eventually, it was named for the son-in-law of a settler, William Pincheon, who was like, "I like my son-in-law, let's call the city after him."

Thanks to the great They Might Be Giants song, you probably know that the capital of Turkey, Istanbul, used to be called Constantinople, but in fact, the city has actually had over eight names throughout its history.  Istanbul, which means "the city", became the official name in 1930 because the postal service required one consistent name.  

Berlin, in Ontario, Canada, changed its name to Kitchener during World War I due to animosity toward the Germans.  The proposed name change in 1916 wasn't particularly popular, but it was put to a referendum in which the option to keep the name Berlin was not on the ballot.  Only about 900 people in the town of 15,000 showed up to vote, and only around 350 voted for Kitchener, but it still won.

Mira Loma, California used to be Wineville, but then it changed its name in the 1930s to disassociate itself from the Wineville Chicken Coop murders, in which multiple young boys were murdered in the 1920s.  

Back when it was just a settlement, Enigma, Georgia was known as Gunn and Weston, which would be a very popular town name today.  But they eventually named it Enigma because according to the town's founder, it was a puzzle what to name it.  Man, if they wanted a puzzle, they should have just named it Tetris.  

Arab, Alabama was supposed to be called Arad, after the son of the town's founder, but the US Postal Service messed up and the name Arab stuck.

The Russian city of Volgograd used to be called Tsaritsyn, and then Stalingrad, after Joseph Stalin. Khrushchev's administration changed the name in the 1960s but some people still refer to it as Stalingrad.  Now, showing that Russia is just a smidge more Stalin-y than it was under Khrushchev, the title Hero City Stalingrad is allowed to be used on nine celebratory dates like February 2nd in honor of the end of the battle of Stalingrad.

In the late 19th century, Pile-of-Bones, Canada was renamed Regina, which is Latin for queen.  It was originally named for the piles of buffalo bones left by the First Peoples who kept the piles there because they believed the buffalo might return to the same spot.  I don't know if you know this, but mental_floss executive producer and director Mark Olsen is himself from Pile-of-Bones, Canada.  He says that he's from Edmonton, but from now on, I'm calling every city in Canada Pile-of-Bones.

When the city of Wellington, New Zealand was asked to host the world premiere of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey in 2012, it was renamed The Middle of Middle Earth that week.  They even changed their city's main newspaper title to reflect it.

The Japanese town containing Toyota's main plant was renamed from Koromo to Toyota in 1959 because the plant was so big that it allowed the village to become a city.  

Though the city of Guangzhou, China was never officially named Canton, that's what Westerners knew it as between the 1500s and 1900s.  It's believed that the name came to be when the Portuguese put a trading post there and mispronounced the name Guangzhou very, very badly, but to locals, it's been called that since about 190 CE.

In 2000, the town of Halfway, Oregon accepted a deal from the website to rename their town to for a year, which reminds me, I wonder what happened to  

The town of Lake City, Florida was once a Seminole village with a name that translated to Alligator Village, but when the city was incorporated in 1859, there was already a neighboring town named Alligator, because, y'know, Florida.  So they had to switch to Lake City, which is unfortunate, because Alligator Village is a much better description.

Speaking of which, Lake City, Tennessee was renamed Rocky Top in 2014 because developers wanted to build a theme park there named after the song.  What they didn't know was that rights to the song were already owned, so the name change was approved, but any souvenirs for the town might be considered copyright infringement.

Unalaska, Alaska is an Americanized version of Ounalashka, the Russian version of what the Indigenous People of the Aleutian Islands of Alaska named it.  In their language, it meant 'near the peninsula' and then, in 1788, the Spanish took it over and renamed it that.  But within a century, the Russians took it back, then the US bought it and Unalaska became the official name, but now, millions of people just call it Dutch Harbor, because that's what they call it on Deadliest Catch.  

And finally, I return to my salon to tell you that Mauch Chunk, Pennsylvania was renamed Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania in 1953 when the Olympic medalist died.  Thorpe was actually born in Oklahoma and although he did play sports in Pennsylvania growing up, that was about 100 miles away from Mauch Chunk.  His wife, Patricia, wanted money upon his death, and Mauch Chunk was willing to pay and change their name so they could get a monument to the former decathlon runner, and now his grave lives there.  Well, to be fair, I'd pay almost anything not to be named Mauch Chunk, Pennsylvania.

Anyway, thanks for watching mental_floss here on YouTube, which is made with the help of all of these nice people who every week endeavor to bring you top quality educational material with only the occasional factual error, which is usually introduced by me when I mispronounce something.  Mouch Chunk?  Mauch Chunk?  Maukh Chunk?  Ahhh, it's Jim Thorpe, now.  Don't forget to be awesome.  

(mental_floss outro)