Not all town names are forever. Some change out of a love for certain shows and movies, while others make out-of-the-box brand deals. A town by any other name would be just as sweet, and here are six towns that chose to change their names.
1. DISH, Texas
In 2005, Clark, Texas made a strategic business decision, guaranteeing its 100 residents free satellite television for a decade. The catch — they would have to change their name from Clark to DISH, stylized in all-caps. After an offer from the DISH Network itself, the town of just a hundred residents changed its name to DISH, garnering the company fun publicity and ensuring free basic television for its residents. The initial decade of free service has ended, but the town, now home to more than 300 residents, proudly remains DISH, Texas.
2. Truth Or Consequences, New Mexico
Rarely is a whole town such a fan of the same show that they agree to rename themselves in its honor, but that is exactly what happened in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico. Formerly Hot Springs, New Mexico, the town made the unique decision in 1950 to rename itself after a popular radio show. Host Ralph Edwards set a challenge for his listeners: The first town to rename itself after the show would get to host the special 10th-anniversary episode. Even after the initial celebration, Edwards continued to visit the town every year, soon creating a special annual festival, including music, contests, and a parade. While the show has since ended and the host passed away, Truth or Consequences Fiesta still happens every year.
3. Half.com, Oregon
Similarly to DISH, Texas, the town of Halfway, Oregon made a strategic decision for the benefit of its residents’ technology. In 1999, Half.com offered the town internet access and free computers for its school, so long as they officially updated their name to the company’s website. Unlike DISH, Halfway committed to only a temporary name change, and after just a year, it reverted to its original name. The residents kept the benefits of the publicity stunt but were able to drop the name change by 2001 — the same year that eBay purchased and incorporated Half.com itself.
4. Joe, Montana
For another fun, temporary name change, look no further than Ismay, Montana — or, as it was known in the ’90s, Joe, Montana. At the height of NFL player Joe Montana’s career, the town participated in a publicity stunt at the request of a Kansas City radio station, renaming themselves in honor of the player. As a town of just 22 people, they hoped participating in the stunt would help raise much-needed money for their volunteer fire department. The town more than reached its goal, funding an entire community center and fire hall as a result.
5. Sleepy Hollow, New York
Originally North Tarrytown, New York, author Washington Irving called it home 200 years ago. In 1820, he published his most well-known short story: The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. In 1996, the town chose to rename itself in his honor, officially becoming Sleepy Hollow, New York. The town capitalizes on the lore, hosting ghost tours, haunted hayrides, and cemetery tours — and you can visit the plot that includes the grave of Irving himself. This is a real town, home to normal people, schools, post offices — and maybe the occasional headless horseman.
Editor’s Note: For more Sleepy Hollow inspiration, consider 6 Reasons To Visit The Real Sleepy Hollow This October, 10 Quaint Towns You Must Visit In The Hudson Valley, and 12 Fantastic Day Trips From New York City.
6. Hill Valley, Kansas
Augusta, Kansas, has a population of roughly 10,000 — and apparently every resident is an ’80s movie super-fan. On the 30th anniversary of Back to the Future, the mayor and city council issued a vote, instigating a celebratory 24-hour period where the town would be known as Hill Valley, in honor of the movie. The town didn’t stop there, though. They also hosted screenings of all three movies, as well as a cookout, Marty McFly costume contest, parade, and Delorean photo spot. Our takeaway: If your future is whatever you make it, then the same can be said about town names.