Last weekend, I was watching Clueless and looked up Pismo Beach, California on Wikipedia after Cher spearheads the disaster relief efforts for that city. I was pleasantly surprised to find that Pismo Beach claims to be the “Clam Capital of the World.” My dissertation examines the identities of cities claiming to be the “Capital of the World” in various industries during the Gilded Age and Progressive Era and I recently released a digital project examining how Grand Rapids took on the identity of “Furniture City”. City identities, particularly ones based on economics, have been an interest of mine for a while now and often produce lovably quirky nicknames and slogans.
Wondering what other cities and towns integrate specific products into their urban identity, I am launching a project where I ask What Makes Your City Famous? I have created a simple form that asks for the City, Zip Code, City Nickname or Slogan and Source (where I can verify the information). Once the information is collected, I use Google Fusion Tables to create an interactive map that displays the cities and their nicknames. I chose Google Fusion Tables because of the ease in transitioning from a Google Form to Map and used zip codes to help cities display multiple nicknames. I populated the map with a few cities to start, but hope that this project will draw on user knowledge from across the country to uncover a variety of local identities.
So please, tell me What Makes Your City Famous?