Friday, April 18, 2014

How Fitting Are These Cities' Nicknames?

Today marks the end of Grantland's Detroit Week, during which the Website featured "various stories of this wholly original place." With that in mind, I decided to rank the American cities with the best nicknames. At How Blank, we've already chosen our favorite sports cities, and this post should continue the conversation about the richness of our country's metropolitan areas.

Top 10 American City Nicknames

10. San Francisco: "The City by the Bay"
This is about as literal as city nicknames come, but it's a great moniker. The bay is one of the main characteristics that makes San Fran so wonderful and unique. California will be heard from again on this list.

9. Philadelphia: "The City of Brotherly Love"
This is a literal translation of the city's Greek name. Philly gets docked a few spots because its sports fans are anything but loving.

8. Los Angeles: "The City of Angels"
This is another translation from a foreign language. One more great L.A. nickname is "Tinseltown," which usually refers specifically to Hollywood.

7. Chicago: "The Windy City"
This isn't the most flattering label for a city, but it's endearing. There seems to be some disagreement about the origin of the nickname, but anyone who's ever attended an April game at Wrigley Field knows that the simplest explanation is probably the correct one.

6. San Diego: "A Whale's Vagina"

Ron Burgundy taught us a lot about his home city.

5. Pittsburgh: "The Steel City"

(Photo via
I'm trying to evaluate these nicknames on their own merit, without paying attention to other factors like the cities' sports teams. Still, it's impossible to separate Pittsburgh's nickname from the Steelers and their famous "Steel Curtain" defenses. Andrew Carnegie would be happy that his city made this list.

4. New York City: "The Big Apple"
I went to a Mets game at Citi Field last week, and I couldn't help but get drawn into a conversation about the team's Home Run Apple. This is a cool nickname because there are debates about its origins.

3. Denver: "The Mile-High City"
Like "The City by the Bay," this nickname is a function of the city's geography. Unlike San Francisco, though, Denver doesn't share its alias with any other cities. The Mile-High City is unrelated to the "Mile High Club," but the similar-sounding appellation lends Denver even more street cred.

2. New Orleans: "The Big Easy"
Can you think of a better way to describe N'Awlins?

1. Detroit: "The Motor City"
To take this post full-circle, we're giving top billing to Detroit's nickname. This isn't a pity award, either; despite Detroit's recent woes, the city is inextricably tied to the auto industry. Detroit is also called Hockeytown, but nothing can top "The Motor City."

Honorable Mention:
  • Minneapolis/St. Paul: "The Twin Cities" 
  • Boston: "Beantown"
  • Atlantic City: "A.C."
  • Portland: "City of Roses"
  • Atlanta: "Hotlanta"
  • Seattle: "Emerald City"
  • Milwaukee: "Brew City"

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Follow FranT on Twitter at @frantweet and follow Brian Kavanaugh at @btkav

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