You Live Where?!: The Literal Meaning Behind US State and City Names

Hormes-usa-map

Sure, the name ‘Florida’ brings to mind visions of beaches and spring breakers and palm trees, but did you know that once, a long time ago, Florida actually meant “blooming land”? How about that ‘California’ meant ‘Land of the Successor’? When cartographers Stephan Hormes and Silke Peust discovered the ancient meanings of our state names, they were hooked.

“The inspiration was my interest in etymology and my profession as a cartographer,” Hormes explained in an interview with Co.Design. “I started to exchange real names for rue names and the world became a strange romantic continent. It’s obvious to me that after five years of changing names on maps, I must do it. No map is safe.”

The result is a US map that is as whimsical as it is informative, indicative of our country’s early history produced through their company, Kalimedia. “I found some funny stuff like ‘Astrakhan’ in the Wolga delta which means ‘Tax haven for pilgrims,’” Hormes explained, shedding insight into a sometimes forgotten political past.

Read the entire article and check out more photos on Fast.Co. or the zoom-able full size image on Slate.

If you want to get your hands on one of these bad boys though, you’ll have to wait. They are currently sold out but will be re-filling their stock at the end of the month.

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Category: Spotlight