Baby Names on the Map: Major US cities

Hi everyone! I'm so excited to share this article with you! Today I'm going to be talking about place names, which is one of my favorite categories of names. The place names I'm going to be talking about today are all names of major cities in the United States. I'm excited about this article because not just because place names are so cool, but because I'm doing this article in honor of my nephew's 11th birthday. His name (last one featured) is the name of a major US city but it is so rare as a name that it wasn't even listed on my favorite name website, Nameberry! I'm featuring eleven names today because my nephew is turning eleven. These were just some of the names I was intrigued by. I might do a part two to this article later because there are just so many cool options. I hope you enjoy this article and you're inspired to think of some names of cities as possible names for people!

My nephew opening present
Three more things before we get started: first, this isn't really a commentary on what I think of any of these cities, mostly because I don't know enough about them to comment on them. We're just talking about names here. Second, I think it's interesting to note that iconic places names are sometimes much more popular in places far away than they are in that place. Take Brooklyn for example. Brooklyn is actually ranked in the teens or twenties in several mid-western states but it's not in the top 100 in New York. Third, I'm not going to say what gender these names are for because it can be hard to say definitively whether a place name is for a boy or a girl (except for Atlanta, that's definitely a girls name). I will tell you, however, which gender I prefer the name on.

 Major US Cities

Origin: English
Meaning: Hugh's town
2014 SSA ranking: #931 for boys

I live right outside Houston, TX so it's too close to home for me to use, but I think it has a really cool sound. I think Houston is very on trend and has a very country, cowboy feel (although Houston is by no means in the country, it's the largest city in Texas and the 4th largest in the nation). Other names of Texas citites are pretty popular like Austin and Dallas but if you're looking for an uncommon place name that's very iconically Texan or just a cowboy sounding name, Houston is a wonderful choice. Historical side note that non-Texans might not know: Houston is named after General Sam Houston, a leader in the Texas revolution and president of the Republic of Texas for many years. He was also instramental in getting Texas annexed into the United States.

Origin: Greek
Meaning: Secure, Immovable
2014 SSA ranking: not in the top 1000

I really love the name Atlanta! One of the stories of how Atlanta, Georgia got its name is that it was named for the niece of a past governor of Georgia. Atlanta was her middle name and she was named after Atalanta, the "fleet-footed huntress" of Greek mythology, who refused to marry a man unless he could beat her in a footrace. Attie could be nickname for Atlanta, as could Aly or Lani. I could definintely see Atlanta (or Atalanta) being used and I'd love to meet a little Atlanta.

Origin: French
Meaning: From Anvers or green valley
2014 SSA ranking: not in the top 1000 for either gender

Denver is one that I could see on either a boy or a girl. I might even prefer it on a girl. I have a great uncle whose middle name is Denver and that combined with the John Denver reference makes it feel dated as a man's name but feels fresh on a girl. Like I said, it can be hard to determine what gender a place name should be for.  (And all this is coming from someone who's usually a big stickler about not liking unisex names). Denny or Deni are cute nicknames.

Origin: English
Meaning: town by the pool
2014 SSA ranking: #87 for boys

Lincoln is a name that's being used (or at least talked about) as a unisex name but to be honest, I only like it on a boy. It sounds way too masculine to be used for a girl, in my opinion, especially since it is so tied to Abraham Lincoln, who was most certainly a man. But then again, Kennedy and Reagan were men too and those names seem to be going to the girls. Lincoln is a very handsome boys name with a lot of historical significance. Link is a fun nickname that has made its way into pop culture, being the main character in the classic video game Zelda. There is also Link from the youtube duo Rhett and Link (btw, Link and Rhett both have uniquely named children... more on that later). I grew up going to camp with a boy named Link and I always thought his name was pretty cool.

Origin: Greek
Meaning: brotherly love
2014 SSA ranking: not in the top 1000

Philadelphia is both a biblical place name and an American place name. I think this name has a distinctly feminine sound. Philadelphia is a mouthful but it has a fantastic meaning. In fact, this is my favorite meaning from this list. Another cool thing about Philadelphia's meaning is that many people (besides baby name enthusiasts) will know it because the city of Philadelphia is known as the city of brotherly love.The city of Philadelphia has the nickname Philly but I'm not sure that's the nickname I'd choose for a little girl. I think I like Del or Phia instead. I also read that Shirley Temple played a girl named Philadelphia in the movie Fort Apache.  If you're looking for an elaborate and rarely used place name with a wonderful meaning, go for Philadelphia.

Origin: English
Meaning: land of oaks
2014 SSA ranking: not in the top 1000

I think this is one of my favorites on the list. I mentioned in my tree name article how much I love the names Oak and Oaken and Oakland is pretty similar, with the added bonuses of being a place name and ending in the super cool suffix -land. I've also heard also heard a lot of love for Oakley in the naming community. It's cute but a little too "Annie Get Your Gun" for my personal taste. I think Oakland is a great alternative. I think the sound of Oakland works well on a boys or girls but the spelling of this name looks masculine to me.

Origin: Greek
Meaning: dark red
2014 SSA Ranking: #355 for boys and #494 for girls

Phoenix is probably the most unique-sounding name on this list. It's a very bold, in-your-face kind of sound. Its fiery mythological origins add to its intense image. Phoenix is the only name on this list that is ranked in the top 1000 for boys and girls and it's actually in the top 500 for both genders.I recently heard this name on a teenage girl and it was pretty cool. I  can definitely see Phoenix on a boy as well, though. I think Fin would be a cool nickname for a boy named Phoenix. 

Origin: Creek
Meaning:old town 
2014 SSA Ranking: Not in the top 1000

Although it's not a name the public has caught on to yet, I think Tulsa has a really cool sound. I also think it's cool that Tulsa (according to my research) comes from the Creek language, though I don't know if they would have used it as a person's name. The 'a' ending is often considered feminine in our culture but I think Tulsa could work on a boy or a girl. Tully is a cute nickname.

(Oregon, Maine)
Origin: English
Meaning: land near the ports
2014 SSA ranking: not in the top 1000

This is another -land name that I think has a lot of potential. The -lynn sound is popular at the end of many girls names and a few boys names and I think that could easily give -land names a leg up. Porter is in the top 500 for boys (not in the top 1000 for girls) so I think that would make Portland more usable. As for whether I prefer this on a boy or girl, I think this spelling looks masculine but I can still see it on a girl as well. 

Origin: English
Meaning: servant
2014 SSA ranking: not int the top 1000

Now for the name that made me want to do this article. My nephew's name is Lansing, we often say Lansing like Michigan. As a family, we have zero ties to Michigan. My sister jut liked the name.  Lansing is a form of Lancelot, meaning servant. I did not like this name at all when my sister decided to use it and I tired to convince her to use something else. Now I really like it! I t's funny how a name grows on you once you know and love someone with that name. I called my nephew Lanny as a nickname when he was little but now he often goes by Lans (pronounced like Lance). For obvious reasons, I think of this as a boys name but I could see it on a girl as well.

Me and Lans

I really hoped you enjoyed this article!I'm planning on doing a sequel or two later with even more cool names of American cities, as well as some international place names. Here's the full list of the names in this article. If you liked any of them or the list itself, be sure to pin it!

If you're interested in a different kind of place name, check out my Biblical Place Names article:

Thanks so much for reading and God bless!

What are your favorite US place names? Would you use the name of the city you live in or a nearby city as a baby name or would you be more likely to use the name of a place that's far away? Let me know in the comments!

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  1. I love this and being from America I should have heard some of these if not all and I haven't. I have just been texting my mom back home about them Great post. Thanks for linking up to Share With Me. #sharewithme

  2. What a great post - I have not used place names for any of my four children. I do like the names India and Phoenix Kaz (Ickle Pickles Life) x .

  3. All of my children have place names as names. I wasn't deliberate, it just turned out that way. They are all places in the US too! Thanks for linking up with #MyFavouritePost

  4. What a great post. I gave my kids traditional, old names - not on purpose. I just liked them. Pinned and stumbled! Thanks for linking up and sharing with us at Funtastic Friday. Hope you join us again this week.

  5. Mine are all place names too two are countries and the baby have a city name

  6. You have vast knowledge of all things names! Thank you for sharing at Waiting on...Wednesday!


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