US Cities With Greek Names: More Than 200 Cities and Places
Have you ever wondered why there are so many US cities with Greek names?
Maybe this is the first time you are realizing it! But once you start to notice it, it is very hard to go back.
What are the major American cities with Greek names?
From the largest and arguably most well known cities of the United States we have Philadelphia, Phoenix, Indianapolis and Memphis.
- Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
has a Greek origin that translates to “friend or love” and “brother”
- Phoenix, Arizona
the famous bird that is reborn, an Ancient Greek word for “Phoenician bird” or “red-purplish bird”
- Indianapolis, Indiana
not technically a Greek word – the suffix -polis that is added is Greek for “city”
- Memphis, Tennessee
not technically a Greek word either – the name comes from the ancient capital of Egypt that was translated to “Memphis” in Greek. There is an alternative theory of origin from the Greek poet Hesiod, that wrote that “Memphis” was named for the daughter of the god Nilus.
Most common Greek names for cities in the United States
In total we are talking about more than 200 cities with Greek names or Greek inspired names, especially from Greek mythology.
But it seems there are some names that have more US Cities than others. Those are the favorites or most commonly used in a way.
- Atlas – more than 22 places
In Greek mythology Atlas was one of the Titans. He was the one to lead the Titans to war against the 12 Olympians. After their defeat he was condemned to carry upon his shoulder the weight of the earth. Atlas is linked to astronomy and endurance and has been an influential and popular figure in cartography (map-making).
Atlantic Beach, Florida
Atlantic City, New Jersey
Atlanta, New York
Atlantic Beach, New York
Atlantic, North Carolina
Atlantic Beach, North Carolina
- Athens – more than 20 places
Athens is one of the most common Greek names you will find in cities of the United States.
(see below for a map of all the places)
- Arcadia – more than 12 places
Arcadia is a geographical region in modern day but it also has mythological importance. According to the legend, Arcadia was a utopic wilderness in the Peloponnese, where the god Pan lived, together with nymphs and other spirits.
There are many works of art depicting “arcadia” that draw on this unattainable and harmonious place where people live close to nature.
Arcadia, South Carolina
- Homer – about 11 places
We might be familiar with Homer as a character from the Simpsons, but Homer is actually one of the great epic poets, that gave to us the Iliad, the Odyssey and tales of the Trojan War. While most of what is known about Homer is under debate, we know that Homer was an unusual name for the time that meant “captive” or “hostage” from the Greek “omiros”. This might be in connection with the fact that Homer was blind.
Homer, New York
East Homer, New York
- Helen- about 9 places
Helen was the beautiful wife of the king of Sparta, that was either abducted or willfully taken away to Troy (depending on who tells the story).
Helen is said to be a Greek name that means “light”.
But there are also other explanations for the origins of the name, especially from German and Gaelic.
Helena, New York
Helen, West Virginia
- Sparta – about 11 places
Sparta was a city-state in Ancient Greece famous for its strong warriors and strict lifestyle. Sparta defeated Athens (another city-state) during the Peloponnesian Wars back in (431-404 B.C.)
In our days, Sparta is remembered for the strong warrior king, Leonidas as well as for the Spartan culture and constitution which is admired by many.
Sparta, New Jersey
Sparta, New York
East Sparta, Ohio
- Olympus and Olympia – 6 places
Olympia was a plain in the Peloponnese region of Greece, that was sacred to the Greek gods, later it gave its name to the mountains where the 12 Olympians lived. Another fun fact, the giant statue of Zeus, considered one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, was made in Olympia. The statue was destroyed around the 5th century AD and only representations of it survive to this day.
Olympic Valley, California
Olympia Heights, Florida
Olympia Fields, Illinois
East Olympia, Virginia
- Marathon – 6 places
Marathon is a small town outside of Athens, that has existed since ancient times.
It was there that the Battle of Marathon took place in 490 BCE with the Athenians defeating the Persian army. According to the story, a runner by the name Pheidippides, was tasked with running back to Athens to announce the good news.
The distance? Roughly 40 km. Later, the marathon became the long distance running sport we are all so familiar with.
Want to hear something more interesting? The name comes from the Greek word for “fennel” since that area was said to be particularly full of this flowering plant.
Marathon, New York
Marathon Shores, Florida
How many cities are named Athens in the US?
There are more than 20 cities in the US that are named Athens.
Athens is also the name of the capital of Greece.
The origin is often attributed to mythology, and more specifically a fight between two of the 12 Olympian Gods of Mount Olympus, Athena and Poseidon for the naming rights. As is evident, the goddess Athena won.
If we were to calculate the cities outside of the United States, we would have almost 60 places around the world that share this wonderful name.
What are some other US cities with Greek names?
Corinth – a city state of Ancient Greece
Kentucky, Mississippi, New York, Texas, Vermont
Ithaka (or Ithaca) – Greek island in the Ionian Sea that was home to Odysseus in the epic poem by Homer
Nebraska, Ohio, New York
*Rhode Island – not a place or town but a state.
On of the theories is that the name was given because it reminded explorer Giovanni da Verrazzano of the island of Rhodes in Greece.