Saturday, April 23, 2005

You live in "the what"?

ATTN: If you have already read this post, be sure to scan down for updates and comments.

This my friend Becky Kimmons, an independent (I'll say) communications consultant... she stopped in at Taylor Books for coffee today...

... and announced that she's starting a campaign to re-name the city of Charleston, West Virginia. If you live outside the state, your reaction is probably "Charleston? Isn't that in South Carolina?" We're sick of that. We live in the capital city of our state and most people in the country don't know that it exists. The SC version is older by at least 200 years so you can't begrudge them their fame. Every so often, someone seriously suggests changing the name of the West Virginia Charleston. It's not a completely crazy idea. Think of the publicity! It would take many years for the ensuing confusion to die down... but it could be worth it. Becky says that her brilliant idea for a name is "The Diamond". I'm not making this up... she thinks that is a good idea. There was a (long defunct) department store in town called "The Diamond" so it has warm fuzzy connotations for people of my age and older. Becky listed all sorts of reasons why this is a good idea but I can't remember most of them. Her second choice was (I think this one is a joke) Jennifer Garner, WV. I told Becky she was nuts. But beware the nut championing a big idea.
UPDATE: Becky emails to expound with her additional reasons

  1. The article in front of the word makes it even more distinctive. No other capitol city has The in front of it. The only other major city with The in it is The Hague.
  2. If you depress--compress?--coal long enough, it becomes diamonds. I'm for sitting on our coal reserves for a few more years. Go for long term benefits!
  3. It would make a nice new name for the newly consolidated towns of the Greater Kanawha Valley--including Huntington. Hah! Now THERE's an idea! You know, that town at the other end of the high-speed rail line that connects Old Charleston and Old Huntington...

See comments for explanation of this....

UPDATE AGAIN: Becky emails some more...

OK, I've been thinking some more about this. You should probably know that George Clendenin named the plot of land he owned at the convergence of the Kanawha and Elk Rivers Charles Town, in honor of his father, Charles [Note: edited typo... changed George to Charles]. That was in 1769. The people of Charles Town West, Charley West, if you will, endured the hardship of their luggage, mail, and friends being delivered to the other, older Charles Town, Virginia, which had been named for George Washington's brother, until 1819. At that time, Charley West residents saw the futility of fighting that battle. Alas, they made another, even worse marketing error. They named their "product" Charleston. Now I ask you--if you were going to create a new line of vehicle, would you name your new car "Chevrolet," then spend the bulk of your budget on convincing your market that your cars aren't "those Chevrolets?"

Yes, I know; they weren't thinking. But it's time that we did. Rick said that a name change would cause confusion, but I maintain that, rather, it would clear up nearly 200 years of confusion. So I submit that we should rename our city The Diamond, the name that was waiting for us until the 20th century, and reap the benefits of all the buzz it would create. In fact, we could make it official in 2019, 200 years after the original mis-naming, and set it all aright.

Some other suggestions have been--Vandalia--nah. Do we want our town named after Vandals? You really don't want to hear the history lesson on that... Kanawha? I think not. Folks can't even pronounce Appalachia. Give 'em a break.

I've already moved to The Diamond. Y'all can live wherever you want.

This is from a VERY early map...

...it says "Charlestown on the mouth of Elk River. [illegible] Courthouse of the County of Kanawha". I copied this map before it was sold at auction. The map was huge.

[After updating this post, I've changed the date to keep it on top for a while]

13 comments:

kenju said...

Rick, I used to work, play and shop at the Diamond, so I have fond memories of it too. I have even blogged about it. But calling Chas. "the Diamond"? Nutsy-cookoo! And tell her there's already a Garner; it's in NC.

Rick Lee said...

>>Nutsy-cookoo!<<
Ha! There's no Garner, WV... I checked. I'm darned sure there's no "Jennifer Garner, WV".

kenju said...

I just heard she was now engaged to Ben Affleck. Maybe they'll change the name of Chas. to Bennifer Two.

flyinthesoup said...

That Becky Kimmons is one smart cookie. I think changing the name is a brilliant idea. Brilliant...like the Diamond. And you know it's forever.

Rick Lee said...

Personally, I've always liked "Kanawha City". But of course, it carries the unpronouncability baggage (for out-of-towners).

Rick Lee said...

>>Brilliant...like the Diamond. And you know it's forever. <<
The name does lend itself to any number of promotional slogans... "The Diamond, the jewel in the mountains"... uhhh... well, that's one.

kenju said...

Maybe I spoke too soon. Since coal, which is all around Chas. turns into diamond if it is left in the ground long enough, maybe Diamond would be a good name for a town. I stand corrected - by myself.

Rick Lee said...

>>I stand corrected - by myself.<<

Oh no! It's a groundswell.

Richard Lawrence Cohen said...

I don't know if you'd consider the Bronx a major city, but it's got more than twice as many people as the Hague and has probably produced more notable people. At least in the past couple of hundred years.

Rick Lee said...

Ahh... The Bronx. I suppose at one time it was a separate city. A quick Google search is inconclusive.

Rick Lee said...

FYI to all... Becky has had trouble logging in to leave comments, so she has sent me more info via email which I have added to the post in updates.

Wendy Hoke said...

Hey Rick,
Welcome to the blogosphere! Enjoyed your posts so far and hope to check in from time to time. I enjoyed working with you (though at arms-length) when I was editor of Charleston Mag.
Best,
Wendy Hoke
www.creativeink.blogspot.com

Rick Lee said...

Hi Wendy! So good to see you here. I'll check out your blog.