American Cities That Were Forced to Change Their Names

Did you know that there are numerous cities in America that were forced to change their names? The reason behind the change was either political, social, or cultural. Some believed the original names were either unfit, inappropriate, or even offensive. So, let’s take a walk down memory lane and remember the long forgotten original names of these bustling cities that were forced to change their names.

New Amsterdam to New York City


One of the most well-known examples of a city name change is the transformation of New Amsterdam to New York City. In the 17th century, the Dutch established a settlement called New Amsterdam in what is now Manhattan. However, in 1664, the British captured the city and renamed it New York in honor of the Duke of York. This change reflected the shift in power from the Dutch to the British in the region and marked the beginning of British colonial rule in the area.

Indian Territory to Oklahoma

The name “Indian Territory” referred to an area in present-day Oklahoma that was designated for Native American tribes forcibly relocated from their ancestral lands. In 1907, the Indian Territory merged with the Oklahoma Territory to form the state of Oklahoma. The name change was a deliberate effort to move away from the term “Indian Territory” and recognize the diverse population and history of the region. It aimed to acknowledge the Native American tribes’ presence and their contributions to the state’s cultural heritage.

N*grohead Mountain to Ballard Mountain

In California, there was a mountain known as N*grohead Mountain, named after a racial slur. The term “n*grohead” was derogatory and offensive towards African Americans. In 1964, the U.S. Board on Geographic Names officially changed the name to Ballard Mountain, honoring the Ballard family, who were early settlers in the area. This change was part of a broader movement to eliminate racially offensive names from geographic features and promote inclusivity and respect.

N*ggerhead to N*ggerhead Mountain

Similarly, there was a mountain in Wyoming named N*ggerhead Mountain, which also contained a racial slur. The term “n*ggerhead” was derogatory and deeply offensive. In 1962, the U.S. Board on Geographic Names changed the name to N*ggerhead Mountain, adding the word “Mountain” to the name to avoid using the offensive term directly. While the name change did not completely eliminate the offensive nature of the name, it was a step towards acknowledging the need for change and promoting a more inclusive environment. However, for that one, I think it’s clear that more work needs to be done to fix it.

Lynchburg to Lovettsville


Lynchburg, Virginia, was originally named after its founder, John Lynch. However, in recent years, there has been a growing recognition of the negative connotations associated with the term “lynch,” which refers to extrajudicial punishment and killing. As a result, some communities have chosen to change their names to distance themselves from this dark history. In 2018, the town of Lynchburg, Tennessee, changed its name to Lovettsville. This was not only a name change, but also a shift towards a more inclusive and respectful community.

Squaw Valley to Olympic Valley

Squaw Valley, California, was the host of the 1960 Winter Olympics. However, the term “squaw” is considered derogatory towards Native American women. In 2003, the local community voted to change the name of the valley to Olympic Valley. That way there still was recognition of its Olympic history, without the offensive term from the city’s name. This change aimed to promote cultural sensitivity and respect towards Native American communities.

Kanita is a wanderlust-fueled traveler with an inclination for unraveling the mysteries of history, the paranormal, and the bizarre world of medicine. As a true crime buff, Kanita's nights are often spent delving into the depths of chilling mysteries. Yet, it's not just the paranormal that captivates her—her background in medicine fuels a fascination with the weird and wonderful world of medical oddities, from twisted historical practices to the myths and legends that shroud the field. From exploring haunted locales to uncovering the strange and morbid tales of medical history, Kanita is your guide to the unconventional, the unexplained, and the downright eerie.

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