Pittsburgh used to be Pittsburg and New York used to be New Amsterdam. And then there are these American towns that got a lot of publicity when they came up with new names for themselves.
Hot Springs, New Mexico
“Truth or Consequences” is a very mysterious name for a town, particularly a sparsely populated one in the middle of the dusty Southwest desert. But Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, actually got its name as the result of a radio contest. In 1950, the popular radio game show Truth or Consequences put out an offer: The show would do a remote broadcast from the the very first town that renamed itself “Truth or Consequences.” The town of Hot Springs, New Mexico, accepted the challenge and did it. The Ralph Edwards show came to town, and made it an annual tradition. The name stuck, and it’s even outlasted Truth or Consequences, which moved to TV in the 1950s and went off the air in 1988.
He was nearing the end of his storied NFL career in 1993, but it was still a major get for the Kansas City Chiefs to sign legendary San Francisco 49ers quarterback Joe Montana. A local K.C. radio deejay came up with a silly publicity stunt. He found the smallest incorporated town in Montana—Ismay, population of about 30—and tried to convince the town to rename itself Joe. As in “Joe, Montana.” The town actually took it to a vote and approved the idea 21-0. As a thank you, every resident of Joe, Montana, was flown to Kansas City to watch Joe Montana play.
Half.com was a late ‘90s Internet startup that allowed users to buy and sell used books, DVDs, and video games. In 2000, major commerce and auction site eBay bought Half and came up with a way to promote the acquisition. Company representatives contacted officials in Halfway, a town of about 200 people in rural Oregon. For one year, Halfway renamed itself Half.com. In exchange, the town got 20 brand-new computers.