Most downtowns in America have a “Main Street” with all the imagery and associations that it conjures: shops and restaurants open for business, people walking to and fro, and inevitably a lot of automobile traffic. Indeed, countless cities share a variety of street names from First Avenue to Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. Driving across America, it isn’t unusual to end up passing through several towns with the same name. (For example, there are at least 25 Springfields alone, one reason Matt Groening chose it as the hometown of the Simpsons.) What does it do to a sense of place to have the place’s name repeated across the country? Do other Springfields become lesser than your Springfield? Or do you feel a sense of community and connectedness with otherwise strangers? Maybe it could simply get us to stop and pay attention, both to our new surroundings and to the place from where we came (a place that we have always maybe taken just a little for granted). For me, knowing these other places exist simply makes me want to hop in the car to see everywhere that shares my hometown’s name.

This image is to-scale overlaid maps of Harrisville, America. Gwarlingo is based in Harrisville, NH (the big outline on the map with a whopping thousand residents). Thanks also to MI, NY, OH, PA, RI, UT, WV, and states generally for choosing or attempting to choose official colors which I used for the lines.

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