Friday, October 16, 2009


There are a bunch of cities in the Chicagoland area that have changed their names. Some of the changes make sense without even knowing the issues. Joliet was initially names Juliet. A neighboring town named itself Romeo. When Joliet changed its name, so did Romeoville. Really. The story is here.

The interesting thing is that a bunch of cities changed their names for similar reasons at similar times. They were trying to hide in plain sight. Shermerville became Northbrook in 1923. West Hammond became Calumet City in 1923. Tessville became Lincolnwood in 1936. You might also note that the XIX Amendment was in place from 1919 to 1933. Which one is XIX? The one that probited the sale, manufacture, and transportation of alcohol for consumption in the United States.

So, what ties these cities together? All three of them (among others) gained reputations as "sin cities" during Prohibition. They mostly passed some liquor regulation, but they all changed their names.

"Cabbie, I want to get a drink and a hooker. Take me to Shermerville immediately!"

"Uh, sir, I know a Shermerville Road, I know a kid named Ferris Bueller who lives in Shermer, but I don't know any Shermerville."

"Damn. Well, take me to church, I guess."
Seems like it would work.


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