You can travel the world without ever leaving Florida
The U.S. is filled with towns and cities that were named after foreign places: You can take a trip to Naples, Florida, or Paris, Illinois.
- In fact, there are so many of these cities that you could go on a world tour without ever leaving the Sunshine State, a new project from the Axios Visuals team shows.
By the numbers: Florida has at least 19 foreign-named cities, from our very own St. Petersburg and Sarasota County's Venice to Miramar and Melbourne.
The big picture: These names were often given by immigrants in honor of their home country or city, explaining why Dutch names cluster in the Hudson Valley or why Scandinavian names are common in Minnesota.
Between the lines: The names of these places reflect the history of immigration in the U.S. They mostly exhibit who had the money and status to settle in the U.S. and who was legally allowed to do so.
- The majority, 72%, of names in our data set originate from Europe, while only a small fraction come from Asia, Africa or Latin America.
Zoom in: Peter Demens, an exiled Russian aristocrat, named our very own St. Petersburg, according to the city.
- Roughly 135 years ago, Demens was given land in what's now St. Pete from settler John Constantine Williams, who moved to Tampa from Detroit, Michigan, in 1875.
- Demens, a railway owner, helped extend the Orange Belt Railroad to Williams' settlement here. The first train arrived in St. Pete in 1888.
- According to local lore, Demens and Williams decided who would name the city with a coin toss. Demens won, naming it after Saint Petersburg, Russia.
Fun fact: Williams named the city's first hotel after his hometown, Detroit.
Weigh in: Do you live in one of these towns? Did you know about its cultural history?
- Email us to share any interesting factoids, pronunciation differences or photos.
Go deeper: Check out the full project with interactive maps, graphics, and more!
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