Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Springfield (The Simpsons)
Springfield seems to be a small city rather than a megalopolis. Its features include one nuclear power plant, an elementary school, a minor league baseball stadium, an airport, an ocean harbor, a downtown district, a run-down district, several specialized shopping districts, and Moe's, a bar run by Moe Syzslak. Springfield was nearly chosen as the host for the Summer Olympic Games, until Bart Simpson's antics angered representatives from the IOC.
The location of Springfield is a long-running joke in the series, based in the fact that nearly every state in the United States has at least one community with that name. Matt Groening, the creator of the Simpsons, grew up in Eugene, Oregon. From Groening's childhood perspective, Springfield, Oregon was "the next town over". Groening also lived in Portland, Oregon. The show contains several references to features in Portland - Terwilliger Street (Robert Underdunk Terwilliger a.k.a. Sideshow Bob), Lovejoy Street and Park (Rev. Lovejoy is the pastor of the Simpsons' church; Asa Lovejoy was a partner in the 1843 land grant that became Portland, Oregon), and Northeast Flanders St. where the signs say "NE Flanders St." Some people have vandalized them to say "NED Flanders St." (Ned Flanders).
While Springfield, Illinois has a Shelbyville 30 miles to the southeast, and a nuclear power plant 40 miles to the northeast, there has not been any indication that it is 'the' Springfield, and could be coincidental.
Springfield was founded in 1796 by settlers who were trying to find a passage to Maryland after mis-interpreting a passage in the Bible. In its early days, the city was the target of many Indian raids, and to this day many forts and trading posts remain (including Fort Springfield and Fort Sensible).
The founder of Springfield was pinoneer Jebediah Springfield, widely celebrated in the town as a brave and proud American hero. The town motto "a noble spirit embiggens the smallest man" is attributed to Jebediah. Lisa Simpson would later discover that Jebediah Springfield was in fact Hans Sprungfeld, a murderous pirate and enemy of George Washington, but eventually decided that the myth of Springfield should be preserved and did not reveal her findings.
Springfield's nearest neighboring town is Shelbyville. There is a strong rivalry between the towns, dating back to a rivalry between their founders -- Jebediah Springfield and Shelbyville Manhattan. Manhattan wanted to found a city where men were free to marry their cousins, but Springfield refused to allow it, so Shelbyville was founded as a rival town. The story of the dispute between Jebediah Springfield and Shelbyville Manhattan contains faint references to the historical stories of the deal between Asa Lovejoy and William Overton to file a land claim, and the dispute between Lovejoy and Francis W. Pettygrove over the name of Portland, Oregon.
For a brief period Springfield divided itself into two cities, Olde Springfield and New Springfield on the basis of an area code division. Wealthy Olde Springfield, which featured Mayor Quimby, anchorman Kent Brockman, and bullies such as Nelson, erected a wall to separate itself from poor New Springfield. Mayor Quimby maintained control of Olde Springfield while Homer Simpson ran New Springfield. The cities were later re-united through a concert by The Who.
In one episode, Bart accidentally moons the U.S. flag, and the Simpsons appear on a talk show to explain the matter. However, the show's host, by deceptive editing , makes it appear that Springfield hates America. When the rest of the U.S. reciprocates this loathing, Mayor Quimby changes the name of Springfield to "Liberty-Ville". An enormous patriotic craze ensues, wherein all items are priced at $17.76.
If there were to be a nuclear war, Springfield would be wiped off the map. During the Cold War, Strategic Air Command classified Springfield as a "NWB" (nuclear whipping boy). In the first moments of a nuclear war, Springfield would be bombed by all friendly nations for their missiles' calibration. This was seen in an illegal video that Comic Book Guy owned.
Towns near to Springfield (within driving distance or close enough to be included in local news) include North Haverbrook, Shelbyville, Ogdenville, Brockway and Cranford.
The city paper is the Springfield Shopper , and the most popular TV station is KBBL-TV (Channel 6), with Kent Brockman, Scott Christian and Arnie Pie on the news and Krusty the Clown and Bumblebee Man doing shows.
Public Transportation is provided by the routes 22 and 22A buses 24 hours daily. Springfield was once served by a now defunct monorail system.
The geographic location of Springfield is never stated, but Springfield is generally considered to depict, in a lampooning manner, "bread-and-butter" Middle America, culturally somewhere between a suburb and a small town. Springfieldians are not, for the most part, cosmopolitan, and most are of lower-middle to middle income (excluding the nefarious, extravagant Montgomery Burns, Lindsey Naegle, and the "Well, I never!" women).
In one episode, the "small-town nastiness" of Springfield is made evident by a benighted tradition of "snake-whacking" whereby, annually, Springfieldians bludgeon snakes to death. Lisa Simpson, a proto liberal disgusted by this activity, encourages the people of Springfield to quit the tradition with the aid of soul singer Barry White.
Springfieldians have a very bad reputation. As described by Dr. Hibbert, it is a town where the smartest have no power and the stupidest run everything. TIME magazine once did a cover story on Springfield entitled "America's Worst City." Citizens of Springfield are all very stupid, overweight, and also quick to anger. There is a riot almost every single day. Springfield also has a strange smell that is uncomfortable to new residents. It is usually about six weeks before they adjust. Springfield is also the first United States city to abandon the Metric system.
In one episode the town becomes so polluted it is moved via 'plan B'. This could allow for the city to be in more than one state with different episodes taking place before and after the move. This could also explain the discrepancies with there being a port sometimes and not others.
Though the exact geographic location of Springfield is much disputed, many episodes make it clear that Springfield exists in some non-existent state, and not one of the actual 50 that exist in the real world. In the episode "Blame it on Lisa," the character Lisa Simpson says about Springfield's state "Well, it is a bit of a mystery, but if you follow the clues you can figure it out."
There is a strong case for the non-existent state being west of the Mississippi River, assuming that the Federal Communications Commission of the Simpsons' universe mirrors the real world FCC. Springfield's local radio station uses the call letters KBBL. In the episode "Colonel Homer" the town also has a country music radio staion KUDD. "K" as the first call letter usually indicates a radio station west of the Mississippi River, whereas "W" as the first call letter usually indicates a radio station east of the Mississippi River. Most of the exceptions to this rule (such as station KDKA in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) were assigned call letters before this convention was established.
Springfield is near a junction of five states (in real life, no such junction exists), yet it borders the ocean; it has a canyon, a desert, and mountains. It boasts the tallest mountain in the United States. (In the episode "King of the Hill," Bart claims the Murderhorn is more than 4 miles higher than Springfield's elevation. The actual highest mountain in the United States, Mount McKinley Alaska, rises less than 4 miles above sea level.) Sometimes it snows in Springfield, and the town once experienced a hurricane. Its ocean coast has an oil platform close offshore. Springfield's western side (which is three times the size of Texas) is a vast oil field. Springfield is also 2,000 miles away from Arlen, Texas, which Hank Hill said in a brief cameo.
The flag of Springfield's state showed (prior to a redesign contest) a Confederate Battle Flag floating on (or sinking into) a body of water in front of a sunrise, paralleling the controversies surrounding the state flags of Mississippi and Georgia (The flag needed to be redesigned because they live in a "northern state.") The state bird is the potbellied sparrow; the state pasta is bowtie. The state slogan is "Not Just Another State," and the longtime governor is Democrat Mary Bailey. The capitol of Springfield's state is named "Capitol City," and boasts its own Major League Baseball team.
Several episodes indicate that Springfield has an ocean coastline, although this conflicts with other clues. One episode showed jellyfish washing up on Springfield Beach. In another episode Bart, Homer, and the Junior Campers float out to sea during a rafting trip. They are rescued by floating towards an unmanned oil rig which nevertheless features a failing Krusty Burger restaurant. Offshore oil rigs in the United States are found off the coasts of the Gulf of Mexico and California. The episode "New Kids on the Blecch" established that ocean going warships visit and dock at Springfield's harbor.
While the name of the state has never been mentioned, Homer Simpson's driver's licence shows that the state's abbreviation is "NT". According to producer/director David Silverman, Springfield is in the made-up state of "North Takoma" (a play on North Dakota). The two-letter abbreviation NT is legally used to refer to Canada's Northwest Territories, or Australia's Northern Territory, but it is clear Springfield is in the U.S.. U.S. flags are everywhere in Springfield; note the flag in the opening credits.
Episodes frequently make fun of these geographic contradictions by adding further conflicting descriptions, obscuring onscreen map representations, and interrupting conversational references. The revelation that Springfield was once entirely in the telephone area code 636 and that chaos erupted when half the town was switched to the new area code 939 does not clarify the situation; area code 636 is in Missouri, while 939 is in Puerto Rico. In one episode, someone refers to "south of the border" and Homer responds "You mean Tennessee?" (Tennessee is directly south of Kentucky.) In another episode, Superintendent Chalmers refers to Springfield school as "the most dilapidated in all of Missouri," and shocks everyone (viewers and characters alike) by this disclosure, before continuing with "and that's why it was shut down and moved here, brick by brick."
In the "Behind the Laughter" episode, a narrator describes the Simpsons as a "northern Kentucky family." In reruns however, this was changed to southern Missouri, purposely adding to the confusion. There are in fact Springfields and Shelbyvilles in both Kentucky and Missouri. However, this episode featured the Simpson family as actors "playing" roles of themselves, and the events depicted on the episode are not recognized as being part of the series' set continuity.
The couch gag sequence of The Simpsons episode entitled "The Ziff Who Came to Dinner" (FABF08, first aired March 14, 2004) again left the location of Springfield something of a mystery. The sequence featured a "zooming out" from the Simpson household to a satellite view, then a solar system view, and so on. The sequence contained plenty of cloud cover, but put Springfield somewhere in the Midwest, probably near the Mississippi River. Also, in a Treehouse of Horror episode, where it is revealed that Kang is Maggie's father, it also features a similar zoom-out sequence. This one, however, places Springfield in Florida. It should be noted that the Treehouse of Horror episodes have no continuity with the rest of the series and are not considered canon. Also, in the episode where a man tries to sell a defective monorail system to the town, he proclaims "I've sold monorail systems to Brockway, Ogdenville, and North Haverbrook! And, boy, it put them on the map!" He then holds up a map of the U.S. where Brockway, Ogdenville and North Haverbrook are the only cities shown. Marge then later drives to nearby North Haverbrook (where everybody resents there being a monorail there, despite the sign at the city limits saying "Where the Monorail is KING!"). The map shows North Haverbrook in the Midwest, approximately Iowa. However, in another episode, Marge is seen driving to Ogdenville, which adds confusion. Ogdenville was shown in the southwest, approximately Arizona.
In one episode, Chief Wiggum reported his location by noting the exact moment when the Sun was directly over his position, suggesting that the state lies at least partly in the tropics (Hawaii is the only tropical U.S. state; it should be noted that the show has invented new states).
The episode "New Kids on the Blecch" establishes that Springfield is only a few minutes' sail from New York City by ship, while the episode "Viva Ned Flanders" (and other episodes in which characters visit Las Vegas) establishes that Springfield is within an easy day's drive of Las Vegas by car. Also, in an episode where Homer joins the US Navy reserve, a map shows his submarine's route leaving Springfield on the US Pacific coast.
In the episode "The Springfield Files," Mulder tells Scully that there has been "another unsubstantiated UFO sighting in the heartland of America," referring to Homer's close encounter with an alien; so, for that episode, Springfield was presumably somewhere in the Midwest.
Homer suggests that Springfield is within a state bordering the Great Lakes. He said:
Oh, why did I take it [the wedding ring] off? ...Oh, right! To see if I could skip it across Lake Michigan.
Another fact that adds to the confusion is the mention of a central highway called Highway 401 in several episodes. There is a central highway named Highway 401 in the Province Of Ontario, Canada which passes through the City of Toronto. This has also lead to speculation of Toronto being the inspiration to Springfield however as mentioned above the countless pieces of evidence of Springfield being in the United States automatically disprove this theory. In the episode "Poppa's Got A Brand New Badge," the character Fat Tony drives into downtown Springfield past a highway identification sign that very closely resembles United States Interstate signs, and bears the route number 95. The real I-95 is a major north-south route along the east coast of the United States.
References to other states
- Grampa Abe Simpson would sooner be deep in the cold, cold ground before he'll recognize "Missoura" (Missouri), stated while explaining why his flag only has 49 stars.
- In a hobo retelling of the story of Huckleberry Finn, Huck/Bart passed two signs on the Mississippi River: "Now leaving Missouri" and "Now entering Missoura"
- Chief Wiggum once mentioned that Texas was the only state that might possibly prosecute a baby.
- Bart and Lisa want to travel to Alaska and Hawaii after Homer wins free plane tickets.
- Skinner says that selling a boy is only legal in Springfield and Mississippi.
- Dr. Hibbert says he should move back to Alabama after realizing the corruption in Springfield.
- Map of Springfield
- History of Portland, Oregon (an influence on the fictional history of Springfield)
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