1864: City Nicknames

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City Nicknames
This place has so many demonyms. Northlanders. Fair Folk. Honey Barons. Lake Dwellers. Treasurers. Swamp Watchers. Dream Farmers. Wellfolk. Rockeaters. Forgotten Royals. Remote Clients. Barrow-Clerks. The People of Land and Sky.
Title text: This place has so many demonyms. Northlanders. Fair Folk. Honey Barons. Lake Dwellers. Treasurers. Swamp Watchers. Dream Farmers. Wellfolk. Rockeaters. Forgotten Royals. Remote Clients. Barrow-Clerks. The People of Land and Sky.


Ambox notice.png This explanation may be incomplete or incorrect: stub
If you can address this issue, please edit the page! Thanks.

Cities often have official or unofficial nicknames. For instance, St. Louis, MO, is known as "Gateway to the West" among several other nicknames. The nicknames typically invoke some historical or geographic feature of the city, but can sometime be opaque to those not familiar with the city.

Black Hat appears to believe they are near New York City, despite the skyline being clearly recognizable as St. Louis due to the Gateway Arch. However, the nickname he gives is neither a common New York nickname (such as "The Big Apple") nor a St. Louis nickname. Megan tries to correct him, but it becomes clear that Black Hat is making up nicknames. Many of his suggestions are puns for real nicknames of other places.

The title text contains made up demonymns in the same pattern. A demonymn is a word for the people who live in a particular place. They are typically derived from the name of the place (e.g. "St. Louisan" for people from St. Louis), but some regions have an informal demonymn that can be used colloquially by those familiar with the place to refer to its residents.

Nicknames and Demonyms

City nickname in comic Reference Explanation
The Hot Tamale Hot Tamales
The Winged City The Windy City Chicago
The Gold Trombone
The Kissing Kingdom
The High Place
Ol' Ironhook
The thousand spires
The graveyard of kings
Lantern City USA
The City of Many Daughters
Big Mauve
The Glass Cradle
The Road Source
London Prime
The Salad Bowl
God's Boudoir
The Glittering Swamp
The Steel Forest
The Mobius Strip A Mobius strip is a one-sided piece of paper
The Land of Trains and Fog
The Meeting Place
The Dark Star
The Walled Garden
Skin City Sin City Generic term for a city well known for gambling, drugs, or other vices.
The Horse Rotary
The Naked Towers
The Meta-City
The Urban Orb
The City of Angles City of Angels Los Angeles
The Big Wheel
Bird City USA
The City of Seven Crowns
Bug City A nickname for the bug-infested Chicago in the roleplaying game Shadowrun. Also, a sourcebook for the game.
The Bottomless Cup
Lorde's Fen
The Last Town
The Empty Set
Ghost Harbor

Demonymn in comic Reference Explanation
Fair Folk The elves in The Lord of the Rings are referred to as the 'fair folk'.
Honey Barons
Lake Dwellers
Swamp Watchers
Dream Farmers
Forgotten Royals
Remote Clients
The People of Land and Sky


Ambox notice.png This transcript is incomplete. Please help editing it! Thanks.
[Black Hat, Megan, and Ponytail are standing on a hill overlooking a city. The Gateway Arch is visible, as well as a number of sky scrapers in the skyline.]
Black Hat: Ah, New York. The hot tamale.
Megan: This is St. Louis. Also, that's not–
Black Hat: The Winged City. The Gold Trombone. Castleopolis.
Megan: It's none of those.
[Close up of Black Hat]
Black Hat: The Kissing Kingdom. Sandland. The High Place. Ol' Ironhook.
Megan (offscreen): Still wrong.
Black Hat: The Thousand Spires. The Graveyard of Kings. Bloomtown. Lantern City USA.
Megan (offscreen): Please stop.
[Black Hat, Megan, and Ponytail are walking]
Black Hat: The City of Many Daughters. Big Mauve. The Glass Cradle. The Road Source. London Prime. Hamtown. The Salad Bowl. God's Boudoir. The Glittering Swamp. The Steel Forest. The Mobius Strip. The Land of Trains and Fog. The Meeting Place. The Dark Star. The Walled Garden. Skin City. The Horse Rotary. Turkeytown. The Naked Towers. The Meta-City. The Urban Orb. The City of Angles. The Big Wheel. Bird City USA. The City of Seven Crowns. Hilltopia. Bug City. The Bottomless Cup. [Text size getting smaller] Lorde's Fen. The Last Town. The Empty Set. Ghost Harbor.
Megan: How long does this last?
Ponytail: No city has ever let him stay long enough to find out.

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I think "Castleopolis" is much more likely to be a reference to The Phantom Tollbooth (which I'm sure xkcd has referenced at least once before) than a *very* small town in Michigan. As I suggested in the table, The Phantom Tollbooth has castles and cities named Digitopolis and Dictionopolis, so this seems like the more likely reference to me. All open to interpretation of course! Erronius (talk) 23:52, 17 July 2017 (UTC)

For some reason I'm reminded of this comic. OldCorps (talk) 11:41, 17 July 2017 (UTC)

"Urban Orb" may refer to Boston, aka "The Hub". (talk) 12:17, 17 July 2017‎ (UTC) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Los Vegas may be sin city, but I'm pretty sure that Las Vegas is quickly becoming Skin City Seebert (talk) 13:01, 17 July 2017 (UTC)

My only guess as to "The Walled Garden": In the video game series Mass Effect, the name of the homeworld of the Quarian species, Rannoch, translates to "walled garden". Not something I really associated with xkcd, admittedly. PvOberstein (talk) 13:19, 17 July 2017 (UTC)

A guess at "Hamtown" instead of Hamburg would be "Hogtown", a common nickname for Toronto, Canada -- Harebenj (talk) 13:27, 17 July 2017‎ (UTC) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

The Mobius Strip is also a district in the fictional Perplex City. I'm sure I've seen it used in some cyberpunk-ish novel as well, but can't identify it off the top of my head. - 13:46, 17 July 2017 (UTC)

Well Folk might be a variation on Wee Folk. Thaledison (talk) 13:48, 17 July 2017 (UTC)

I thought a similar thing, but about the Fair Folk. 17:03, 18 July 2017 (UTC)An Inside Joke (talk)An Inside Joke

"Horse Rotary" could be referring to a traffic roundabout, which are called "rotaries" in some countries. Kbseah (talk) 14:02, 17 July 2017 (UTC)

Some of these make me wonder if it might be easier to interpret if you connect adjacent ones. Seems to be easy to make the names of some real people/places/things by taking words from a pair of adjacent nicknames. For Example: The Urban Orb - City of Angles - The Big Wheel - Bird City USA - City of Seven Crowns - Hilltopia Could become: (...) - The Urban Angle - City of Wheels - Big Bird - Crown City - City of Seven Hills - (...) All of which seem to be Things That Exist™. Maybe I'm overthinking it :S - 14:39, 17 July 2017 (UTC)

No, I don't think you are overthinking this. If you just try and make random word associations you get interesting combinations. If New Orleans can be called the "Big Easy" and Chicago can be called "Chi (Shy) Town" then why not the "Big Shy" to the "Shy Easy", like Black Hat is just spouting out random words associated with city monikers (demonyms) you get a pretty humorous connection Rtanenbaum (talk) 17:14, 17 July 2017 (UTC)

Game of Thrones is based on the book series A Song of Ice and Fire, not Land of Ice and Fire. Correction made in description. OldCorps (talk) 17:01, 17 July 2017 (UTC)

From my perspective from USA there is nothing more inherently funny than the names given to people in British cities. That someone from Liverpool is called a Liverpudlian makes me laugh every time I hear it. But then again the town I grew up is was referred to with the pejorative "Dreary Erie, the Mistake on the Lake" Rtanenbaum (talk) 17:14, 17 July 2017 (UTC)

Be proud though, not many cities can claim to have set a river on fire. OldCorps (talk) 17:39, 17 July 2017 (UTC)
Agreed! Cleveland Rocks! Burn on, Cuyahoga, burn on. And a song to commemorate it [1] 18:08, 17 July 2017 (UTC)

Random reader here... It may be familiarity bias since I'm from St. Louis, but this is the third (or fourth) comic to my memory that highlights St. Louis when it seems like any random city could have sufficed (I'm thinking of 1321: Cold, 1368: One Of The, and maybe 1243: Snare) and I don't recall any other city getting name-dropped so often (at least outside of major metropolises). Have I just not paid attention as much when other cities are mentioned, or is the repeated use of St. Louis something worth including as trivia on these three/four articles? 17:36, 17 July 2017 (UTC)

Boston (New England) beat St. Louis in Super Bowl XXXVI and Randall just wants to keep rubbing it in maybe? OldCorps (talk) 17:42, 17 July 2017 (UTC)

The Auditors ... wanted to simplify the universe by destroying it. Not so. They merely wanted to destroy humans and humanity, which are unnecessarily complicated from their point of view. To quote George Carlin: The planet is fine. The people are fucked.-- 18:52, 17 July 2017 (UTC)

Space Moose - Rumpleshithead. NSFW, I guess, if you work somewhere stupid.  :-D (talk) 19:33, 17 July 2017 (UTC) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

"The Kissing Kingdoms" Could be a reference to "The Kissing Kings," a common nickname for the two kings that are in the middle together in standard Bicycle new deck order. Dragonfiremalus (talk) 19:51, 17 July 2017 (UTC)

"The Land of Trains and Fog" is obviously Britain (or some portion thereof), famous for fogs/rain, and where much of early railroading was developed. There is a quotation about this someplace, (I think Rowland Emett referenced it in one of his cartoons). I just haven't been able to dig up the source. 22:51, 17 July 2017 (UTC)

The names in this kind of remind of towns names in Dwarf Fortress. Just randomly combined words. (talk) 03:17, 18 July 2017 (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

"The City of Seven Crowns" also makes me think of the Seven Kingdoms (ASOIAF/GOT). Admittedly that may be because I watched the season 7 premiere last night. (talk) 04:03, 18 July 2017 (UTC) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Another reference for "The High City" as Denver could be the fact that Colorado has legalized marijuana, making it a place people go to get "high". 09:23, 18 July 2017 (UTC)

Hilltopia is also probably a reference to Zootopia, which also has been referenced before by xkcd regarding wikipedia discussion pages. (talk) 13:37, 18 July 2017 (UTC) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Anyone else think this comic was made specifically to troll this site? -- 15:33, 18 July 2017 (UTC)

Not only for this site, and it's not the first one... --Dgbrt (talk) 17:48, 18 July 2017 (UTC)

Could "Bloomtown" also be a reference to the fact that many cities (especially in the Midwest) have "Bloom(something)" names. There are multiple towns called Bloomfield, Bloomington, etc... 16:48, 18 July 2017 (UTC)

Thousand spires could also be a reference to Kredik Shaw from Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn series. The name of the palace is literally supposed to translate as "Hill of a thousand spires". (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Not sure how to edit, but Salinas, CA is nicknamed The Salad Bowl (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Bit off-topic, but is our bot working? A new comic is out now. ~AgentMuffin

Maybe it's a bit slow? I ended up creating this page manually. 1865 did end up getting created by the bot eventually though. --Quantum7 (talk) 18:43, 19 July 2017 (UTC)
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I have moved manually 1864 to 1864: City Nicknames and more; check my edits from that time. I'm hoping this helps.--Dgbrt (talk) 20:02, 19 July 2017 (UTC)

I've added Canberra to Meeting Place. It is really apposite to Canberra - but did Randall mean it that way? Some of these fancy labels are really generic! They could have come from almost anything. (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

I'm wondering if it might aid readability to have multiple rows in the table for some entries, where there's multiple interpretations. 10:31, 20 July 2017 (UTC)

My first impression on reading the list of demonyms was that they all referred to some degree to the «Fair Folk». I believe some of the explanations given are a bit stretched, aren't they? Can't they all refer to basically the same thing?-- 13:45, 20 July 2017 (UTC)

Isn't "Graveyard of Kings" a reference to "The Graveyard of Empires", i.e. Afghanistan? --14:23, 24 July 2017 (UTC) -- Brandizzi (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Walled Garden is more likely a reference to the Garden of Eden than to Babylon. The Farsi phrase for a walled garden is the origin for the word "paradise", I'm not sure that's worth saying. David Bofinger (talk) 01:28, 1 August 2018 (UTC)

I really don't think the fact that "The Land of Trains and Fog" is somewhat similar to "A song of ice and fire" qualifies as a reference to a TV show that is based on that book series but has a different name (GoT). Bischoff (talk) 11:08, 8 May 2019 (UTC)

Toronto is also known as the meeting place https://www.etymonline.com/word/Toronto Procrastinus (talk) 20:04, 28 November 2019 (UTC)