How did these New York cities get their names?

Several upstate cities in New York have names from the classical period - Rome, Syracuse, Troy and Ithaca (are there others?). How did this occur? Did the same person or group found all these places? It seems like more than coincidence.

Here’s what Wiki has to say:

I’m curious about this as well as I grew up in this area and it really never came up while I lived there. I even lived in a suburb of Syracuse called Liverpool (ah, the English influence). But, yeah, where did all these other names come from?

ETA: Xema got in with an actual answer before I finished posting this! Good information!

Hey, you try coming up with unique names in a spurt of quick colonization.

There’s an Athens in Georgia, a Memphis in Tennessee, a Carthage in Missouri, off top of my head.

Also a Cairo (albeit pronounced Kay-ro) in Illinois, a Moscow (pronounced Moss-coh) in Idaho, a Paris in Texas, etc.

True, but I find it odd that there is such a concentration of these towns in upstate NY, as if it were part of a plan.

That’s funny, there’s a Cairo, GA which is pronounced the same way.

Of course, there’s also an Albany, GA that’s pronounced ‘All-binny’.

You also had the war for Greek independence in the 1820s which helped revive interest in ancient Greece (and Rome). Revolutionary America in the 1770s is filled with writers signing their articles “Publius” or “Cato” or some other illusion. The “deliberative body” of Congress is known as the Senate (as in Roman republic). There as plenty of interest at this time in looking to ancient Greece and Rome for lessons to be learned on what to do or not to do.

There are plenty of tons in Upstate NY that have Dutch or AmerIndian names too.

Greece, the country, had a revolutionary movement in the 1820s that many Americans thought paralleled the American Revolution. That spurred a rash of Greek-themed names. It’s tough to remember that in the 1820s, the newly-settled “western” areas were in western New York.

That explains why there is a town called Greece. Which happens to be in a county named Monroe, after the then-current president. Bunches of the other Greek and Roman names stem from this period as well. There was also a classical revival movement in architecture around that time, which accounts for those zillions of courthouses and town halls with Greek-style pillars in the east.

ETA: The previous post wasn’t there when I slowly wrote this one.

…I’d be more interested in the origin of the name Great Neck.

No comments on how/why it happened, but I can answer the “are there others” question because I grew up there.

No necessarily cities, because those are few & far between in those parts, but:


There are probably more. :slight_smile:

It can’t be as creepy as Horseheads NY: “The name is derived from the number of bleached skulls of pack horses left behind by the Sullivan Expedition.”

–I’m pretty sure there’s a Cicero too because there is one around where I live and I’ve been told that it is named after the one in New York.

–Guess I shouldn’t ask about Sheepshead then.

Some others in New York are Utica, Carthage, Attica (of prison fame), Sparta, and perhaps Varna.

There is also Rome and Troy.

There are also several cities named Antioch in the U.S. I’m most familiar with the one in California.

I live on what used to be the Cow Neck peninsula.

Even further OT: Great Neck is not Great Egg, it’s Little Egg.

There’s also Utica. From what I understand, the settlers there picked the name out of a hat.

Carthage is further north than most of the other cities and villages – there was for many years a high school football rivalry between Rome and Carthage.

‘Neck’ is often used in reference to a curved shore along a river or bay. So does this town have any curved shoreline in it?