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“The intriguing history of American applied toponymy includes a few notoriously unpopular sweeping decisions a year after President Benjamin Harrison created the Board on Geographic Names in 1890. Harrison acted at the behest of several government agencies, including the U.S. Geological Survey and the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey, which was responsible for mapping the nation's coastline, harbors, and coastal waterways. Troubled by inconsistencies in spelling, board members voted to replace centre with center, drop the ugh from names ending in orough, and shorten the suffix burgh to burg. Overnight, Centreview (in Mississippi) became Centerview, Isleborough (in Maine) became Isleboro, and Pittsburgh (in Pennsylvania) lost its final h and a lot of civic pride. The city was chartered in 1816 as Pittsburg, but the Post Office Department added the extra letter sometime later. Although both spellings were used locally and the shorter version had been the official name, many Pittsburghers complained bitterly about the cost of reprinting stationery and repainting signs. Making the spelling consistent with Harrisburg, they argued, was hardly a good reason for truncating the Iron City's moniker--although Harrisburg was the state capital, it was a smaller and economically less important place. Local officials protested that the board had exceeded its authority. The twenty-year crusade to restore the final h bore fruit in 1911, when the board reversed itself--but only for Pittsburgh. In 1916 the board reaffirmed its blanket change of centre, borough, and burgh as well as its right to make exceptions for Pittsburgh and other places with an entrenched local usage.”


Mark Monmonier, From Squaw Tit to Whorehouse Meadow: How Maps Name, Claim, and Inflame
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From Squaw Tit to Whorehouse Meadow: How Maps Name, Claim, and Inflame From Squaw Tit to Whorehouse Meadow: How Maps Name, Claim, and Inflame by Mark Monmonier
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