What is the most common city/town name in the United States?

There are no official definitions of city, town, village, hamlet, neighborhood, etc. All named entities with human habitation are classified as Populated Place, including incorporated places (20 percent of the Nation's communities), unincorporated places (the majority), housing developments not yet incorporated, and neighborhoods within incorporated places.

The most frequently occurring community name varies through the years. In a past year, it was "Midway" with 212 occurrences and "Fairview" in second with 202. More recently, "Fairview" counted 288 and "Midway" 256. The name "Springfield" is often thought to be the only community name appearing in each of the 50 States, but at last count it was in only 34 states. The most recent count shows "Riverside" with 186 occurrences in 46 States; only Alaska, Hawaii, Louisiana, and Oklahoma not having a community so named.

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Does the Geographic Names Information System Database contain entries for obsolete names and historical geographic features that no longer exist?

Yes, The Geographic Names Information System (GNIS) actively seeks names of features that no longer exist. The term "historical" as used in the GNIS specifically means that the feature no longer exists on the landscape. An abandoned ghost town, for example, still exists so it is not historical. Historical features have no reference to age, size,...

How can I propose a name change for a natural feature?

Proposals to change the name of a natural feature can be submitted to the U.S. Board on Geographic Names . There must, however, be a compelling reason to change it. The Board is responsible by law for standardizing geographic names throughout the Federal Government and discourages name changes unless necessary. Further, changing a name merely to...

How can I acquire or download Geographic Names Information System (GNIS) data?

Download Geographic Names Information System (GNIS) data using the U.S. Board on Geographic Names website . Query the database for official geographic feature names, their location attributes, variant names, and other data. Display, print, and download up to 2,000 records from a query. GNIS data can also be downloaded via The National Map...

How are U.S. states, territories, and commonwealths designated in the Geographic Names Information System?

Several categories with different meanings and requirements fall under the jurisdiction of the United States and are contained in the Geographic Names Information System (GNIS) data. States and DC 50 States plus the Federal District known as District of Columbia Commonwealths Puerto Rico (Caribbean) Northern Marianas Islands (Pacific) (former...

What constitutes the United States? What are the official definitions?

Geographically (and as a general reference), the United States of America includes all areas considered to be under the sovereignty of the United States, but does not include leased areas. On May 14, 1959, the U.S. Board on Geographic Names issued the following definitions based partially on the Alaska Omnibus Bill, which defined the Continental...

How often is the Geographic Names Information System database updated?

Federal, state, local, and non-governmental data partners continuously submit new features and edit existing features in the Geographic Names Information System (GNIS) database . Changes--potentially consisting of hundreds to thousands of records per month--are validated by the staff and made available on the GNIS website and in the Web services...

What is the Geographic Names Information System (GNIS)?

The Geographic Names Information System (GNIS) was developed by the U.S.Geological Survey (USGS) in cooperation with the U.S. Board on Geographic Names (BGN), which maintains cooperative working relationships with state names authorities to standardize geographic names. GNIS contains information about the official names for places, features, and...
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Date published: July 4, 2017

Mapping Yorktown

If urban legend is correct, the world turned upside down on October 19, 1781. The Patriots defeated the British at the Siege of Yorktown, paving the way for American Independence and starting an enduring trend for town names.

Date published: February 28, 2014

The National Map and National Atlas Merge

During this year, National Atlas of the United States and The National Map will transition into a combined single source for geospatial and cartographic information. This transformation is projected to streamline access to maps, data and information from the USGS National Geospatial Program (NGP). 

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muddy Willamette River
December 15, 2010

Willamette River through downtown Portland, OR

Photograph of the Willamette River passing through downtown Portland, OR.

Photograph of the city of Fort Collins, CO with mountain in the background

Photograph of the city of Fort Collins, CO

Photograph shows the city of Fort Collins, CO with mountains in the background. The John Wesley Powell Center is located in the Fort Collins, CO.

U.S. Geological Survey, Fort Collins Science Center
Powell Center
2150 Centre Avenue
Building C
Fort Collins, CO 80526-8118

Mount Hood in the not-so-far distance beyond Downtown Portland, Ore...

Mount Hood in the not-so-far distance beyond Downtown Portland, OR....

Mount Hood in the not-so-far distance beyond Downtown Portland, Oregon. Photograph taken at the top of the Portland Aerial Tram line on Marquam Hill.