What's in a name? Map shows 'true names' of Michigan cities
A section of the "Atlas of True Names" by cartographers Stephan Hormes and Silke Peust.
By Fritz Klug | firstname.lastname@example.org
on June 20, 2013 at 11:00 AM, updated June 20, 2013 at 11:39 AM
We call it Michigan, but how about Land of the Big Lake?
The Atlas of True Names is a fun look at the meanings behind the names of Michigan and U.S. cities. Released this year, cartographers Stephan Hormes and Silke Peust took the meaning of place names, translated into modern English, and placed them on a map.
Michigan places on the map include Lansing, “The One from the Land,” Kalamazoo, “Boiling Water” and Detroit, “Strait.” There are also the real names of the Great Lakes: Lake Huron as the "Boar’s Head Lake" and Lake Erie as "Wildcat Lake."
Names of Michigan locations come from French and American Indian languages, including Algonquian.
“Many geographical names are clearly rooted in Man’s observation of his natural environment,” Hormes writes on his website.
The aim of the map is not to be fully scientific in the definitions, but to give a general sense of the meaning of the names and place them on a map, according to an interview with the BBC.
Some of the names have multiple meanings, which are included on map’s index, as well as the place name's entomology.
In a 2008 interview with the New York Times, Hormes said the map is "like some kind of re-enchantment of the world. The world is connected via the internet. Everything is technical. There are big financial problems. Everybody seems exhausted. This gives back some of the childhood feeling.”
As a cartographer, Hormes has also created Atlases of True names for Canada, the British Isles, Europe and the world. The maps includes labels for states, cities, and other landmarks.
You can purchase the map to hang on your wall on Hormes’ website or view a full, zoomable copy on Slate.