(Roughly) Daily

“The art of giving the same name to different things”*…

If we hear someone mention “Philadelphia,” how are we to know to which city of that name they refer? The Pudding has a handy, data-driven (though, as they confess, still a bit subjective) guide that covers every duplicated place name in the U.S.: “We calculated what place someone is most likely referring to, depending on where they are”…

Use their interactive tool yourself: “A Map of Places in the US with the Same Name,” from @puddingviz.

* Henri Poincare (on mathematics)


As we disambiguate, we might recall that it was on this date in 1718 that a city with no competition for its name (per The Pudding) was born: New Orleans was founded by Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne, Sieur de Bienville, on behalf of the French Mississippi Company. Le Moyne named it for Philippe II, Duke of Orléans, the regent of the Kingdom of France at the time (and by extension for the French city of Orléans, the seat of Philippe’s title).

In fact, the land was already occupied by the Chitimacha, who had been in the the Mississippi River Delta area for thousands of years. Prior to European expeditions to North America, they had numbered roughly 20,000. Although the Chitimacha had virtually no direct contact with Europeans for two more centuries, they suffered Eurasian infectious diseases (main among them: measles, smallpox, and typhoid fever) contracted from other natives who had traded with them. Like other Native Americans, the Chitimacha had no immunity to these new diseases and suffered high fatalities in epidemics. By 1700, when the French began to colonize the Mississippi River Valley, the number of Chitimacha had been dramatically reduced– to about 700 people.


Written by (Roughly) Daily

May 7, 2023 at 1:00 am

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