Extreme Travel

'Atlas of True Names' charts original town names

Atlas of True Names

 (Atlas of True Names )

Have you ever wanted to visit "New Wild Boar City"?  Chances are you've actually been there: It's New York City.  

The Atlas of True Names, a project by cartographers Stephan Hormes and Silke Peust, finds the etymological origins and translations of popular locations and puts them on a map. The names, despite sounding like fictitious locations in a J.R.R. Tolkien novel, were the result of painstaking research in reference works and on web sites related to the origins of place names.

For example, "Farm of the Elf Counsel's People," is Arlington, Tex.; Lansing, Mich. is “The One from the Land”; Pensacola, Fla., becomes "The land of Hair People"; Chicago is simply "Stink Onions".

“Many geographical names are clearly rooted in Man’s observation of his natural environment,” Hormes writes on his website.

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European names are no different. You may want to sit at a cafe eating a baguette in the "City of Boatmen" also known as Paris. Travel to the "Land of the Fire Keepers," and you'd find yourself in Azerbaijan. "The Great Land of the Tattooed" is, in fact, Great Britain.

Hormes and Peust's work is a fun look at the places we know or dream of going, but they're not without their critics, with some claiming that the names were selected with "child-like naiveté." Knowing that their translations are far from definitive, the cartographers have a disclaimer, saying the maps are only "an invitation to the world as a strange, romantic continent."

If you want these maps to navigate your next trip, U.S. regional maps are now availale, such as the New York/ New Jersey, Great Lake and Southern California areas.  Don't worry, the locations' real names are there too.  But, just in case, take your GPS.