You’ll probably be disappointed

Here’s a site calling itself “A People Map of the US, where city names are replaced by their most Wikipedia’ed resident: people born in, lived in, or connected to a place.” It’s a concept that might have some promise, except that instead you discover a list of celebrities in politics, movies, and most of all, sports, where the connection to the location is often extraordinarily tenuous. For example, here’s my region of West Central Minnesota.

I didn’t recognize any name, except Westrom — he’s the Republican representative for my district, I can’t stand him, but it’s fair that his name is up there. For Morris, on the other hand, it’s some guy named Aaron Schock. I never heard of him. He’s never in any of the local papers. I looked him up, and learn that he was born here and moved to Illinois at a young age. So what is he famous for?

Schock resigned from Congress in March 2015 amid a scandal involving his use of public and campaign funds. A subsequent congressional ethics investigation “revealed that he used taxpayer money to fund lavish trips and events”. In November 2016, a federal grand jury indicted him in connection with the scandal. After he pled not guilty, prosecutors reached an agreement with him in March 2019 whereby all charges against him were dropped. As part of the deal, Schock’s campaign committee, Schock for Congress, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of failing to properly report expenses.

He got into Wikipedia for being a crooked politician, and the Wikipedia entry mentions where he was born, and that’s it. Now this map tars the town with him, because it has such sloppy criteria for inclusion.

Oh, well. Take a look at your hometown, maybe you’ll be lucky and discover some worthy who actually has some substantial connection to the place. Probably not, though.


  1. kenbakermn says

    From my home town of Romeoville, Illinois: Drew Walter Peterson is a retired Bolingbrook, Illinois police sergeant who was convicted in 2012 for the murder of his third wife.

  2. blf says

    Santa Cruz, California: An actor named Andy Samberg, apparently because he attended UCSC (I don’t think he lives in the area, and was not born in area). I was hoping it would be Tom Lehrer — yes, that Tom Lehrer — who taught at UCSC and is now retired and still living in the area.

  3. Larry says

    My home town is Visalia, CA. Its most searched for person is the actor, Kevin Costner. He was in my high school sophomore and junior class for 1-1/2 years when his family moved away. Visalia was also the home of the 1998 Nobel Prize winning physicist Robert Laughlin who actually grew up there. However, he never won an Oscar.

  4. doubtthat says

    Lived in the Twin Cities until I was 9. Along with Kirby Puckett, Kent Hrbek, Gary Gaetti, and Tom Brunansky, a legendary name from my childhood.
    Guy got me a day off of school in 1987.

  5. Loree says

    I’m not at all disappointed with who they picked for my town of Renton, Washington. Jimi Hendrix. I’ve visited his memorial and grave many times and was there at his funeral in 1970 (I had to skip class, along with about 200 other students from my HS).

    They messed up on who they picked for the next town north of me, Newcastle. They have Alan White, the drummer from the progressive rock band Yes… and he was born and raised in Newcastle, but it was the one in England.

  6. xmnr says

    Shut down the comments, I’ve got you all beat:

    Norwalk, Connecticut: Roger Stone.

  7. kestrel says

    My town did not make the list. However, the nearby town Mora, NM got Ceran St. Vrain, a fur trader during the 1800s who eventually settled relatively nearby and built flour mills and supplied flour to a (again, relatively) nearby fort.

    Certainly did not get Roger Stone, can’t say I’m jealous, though. :-)

  8. says

    Most of these seem to focus on someone who was born in a town, even if they immediately left as a baby. For example, Marshall, Michigan has Jamie Hyneman, but he was raised in Columbus, Indiana. Who’s in Columbus? Uhh some loser named mike pence. sounds like a real jerk if you ask me.
    Anyway myyy city has someone who was raised in Colorado, but I did not know was born here–Dee Bradley Baker! Hey, we got a good one.

  9. johnson catman says

    Not up to xmnr @6, but it is not unexpected:

    Betty Lou Beets (March 12, 1937 – February 24, 2000) was a murderer executed in the U.S. state of Texas. She was convicted of shooting her fifth husband, Jimmy Don Beets, on August 6, 1983.

    I don’t live there anymore. I now live where this guy is from:

    James Vernon Taylor (born March 12, 1948) is an American singer-songwriter and guitarist.

    Much more palatable.

  10. Artor says

    It has Courtney Love listed for Eugene, but this is the first I ever heard she had any connection to the town. And Steve Prefontaine is listed for Coos Bay, even though he’s a local celebrity in Eugene. This is a poorly organized map.

  11. microraptor says

    Unsurprisingly, over-celebrated military guy turned right wing political sockpuppet Alex Skarlatos got it for Roseburg.

    Not only is the guy a complete tool, but none of the stuff he’s famous for happened in Roseburg in the first place.

  12. microraptor says

    What’s really confusing is why Steve Jobs is listed as Portland’s celebrity. He wasn’t born there and he didn’t live there for any significant period of time.

  13. says

    Hometown proper is far, far too small (“here’s my chance,” then, I guess?), but current residence lists, to no surprise, that “wonderful” L. Frank Baum. Yay.

  14. says

    Priyanka Chopra showed up for Cedar Rapids, IA…because she apparently lived here briefly with an aunt as a teenager. But it seems like that was for a very brief period of time. So I wouldn’t even call that “substantial.” It’s a brief mention.

    Otherwise, one of my previous residences, Rapid City, SD, has…Tomi Lahren. (vomit) But she fits the profile of the type of scum I would expect from there. (Yes, obviously #notallRapidCitians. I met good people from Rapid City, but also a lot of shity people.)

  15. mcfrank0 says

    Actually, the most salient point about Aaron Schock is that he is a closeted self hating homosexual politician who has recently become careless in social media. The fact that he is a Republican is, of course, superfluous.

  16. larpar says

    PZ, I’ll call your corrupt politician, and raise to a serial killer. John Wayne Gacy, Waterloo, IA.

  17. Rich Woods says

    I’m sure Donald Trump would be overjoyed to see his name appear twice near New York (“I have the biggest name, the best name”) but if you zoom all the way out then the name which stands out more than any other is Barrack Obama (“Fake news!”).

  18. says

    Unsurprisingly, Taylor Swift takes over the area (Wyomissing, where she was born, AND Reading, where she was not but which is the larger town nearby). But at least John Updike gets a tiny dot in Shillington, PA. Although I’m more inclined to Meg Foster, first Cagney and Evil-Lyn!

  19. sanschag says

    Interestingly, both where I was born (Brockton, MA though only lived for 6 months) and where I live now are professional boxers. I’m happy with where I mostly grew up, Robert Frost.

  20. susans says

    A tennis player named Billie Jean King called this city home. Some of you may have heard of her.

  21. Walter Solomon says

    I’m a fan of Tupac and all, but there definitely should be more people listed for Baltimore. Is this asinine site trying to tell me no one “Wikied” Billie Holiday, Babe Ruth, Cab Colloway, H.L. Mencken or Edgar Allen Poe? What about Spiro Agnew — with the corrupt administration in the WH now he and Nixon should be popular — or Nancy Pelosi — her father was mayor of Baltimore at one time. Fuck outta here.

  22. Walter Solomon says


    blockquote>Frank Zappa was the most searched celebrity in my town. erichaas

    There is a statue of him in Baltimore since he briefly lived here.

  23. vucodlak says

    I already knew without looking the name I’d get for my town. I looked anyway, hoping the very fabric of reality might have been altered while I slept, and I might be spared the embarrassment of this association, to say nothing of the sight of his face, 8 feet high, on the floodwall mural. Alas, no such luck. That face still smirks down at passers-by from the wall, a collection of stagnant seep water standing at the base, breeding noxious, bloodsucking, disease-bearing parasites, as if nature itself were making a statement about the odiousness of the man the in question.

    Rush Limbaugh is from this town. His brother, Christian apologist and right-wing author David Limbaugh still lives here, I believe. According to the oracle he practices law at the firm bearing his family’s name (I pass the firm regularly, located as it is in the center of the city).

    My home town is across the river. It didn’t make the map, which is not surprising given that only a couple of hundred people still live there. A doom hangs over the place, the threat of annihilation growing with every passing spring now that both the state and federal governments have washed their hands of the responsibility of protecting it from floods by maintaining the levees.

    It was once a bustling little nest of criminal activity though, and at least one semi-famous Chicago gangster suffered a fatal mishap there, his life tragically cut short when he crashed his car into several hundred bullets. I can’t remember his name, and it isn’t mentioned in the article (I’m amazed there is an article at all).

    The saloons and brothels are all gone now, and all that remains of our once proud history is one moderately sleazy bar and a picked-over dirty bookstore. The trains don’t stop there anymore, the school has closed, and the post office will likely be next. The motel is long gone, home to a strange encampment of squatters who’ve turned into a scrap-walled fortress. Even the gay bar has closed.

    It really is a shame. Just outside of town is the most beautiful country I’ve ever known. The hills and forests, the fields and creeks; I’ve been around, but my town has always held the most beauty to me. In the spring, the fields are full of purple and yellow wildflowers. It the summer, the rich green of the forested hills (Shawnee National Park is just a couple of miles outside of town) flows into fields of soybeans and corn, bounded by gravel roads and lazy rivers. When it snows in the winter, the naked trees look black against the white hills, writing an epic ode to the beauty of the land, which embodies more personality than any one human could hope to have.

    Crap, now I’m homesick.

  24. says

    Walter Solomon @23 It’s not about who is the most historically significant. Tupac makes sense because how many of today’s youths are looking up Cab Calloway?

  25. wzrd1 says

    I’m disappointed in Philadelphians in their ignorance. The only listing on the map is Will Smith for the entire city.
    Of course, for Camden, NJ, they have the dubious distinction of Kellyanne Conway. Camden also of having the distinction of when the NJ State Police came in to help the city clean up its massive drug related violence problem, Camden PD engaged in rolling shootouts with the NJ State Police and only the threat of bringing in the National Guard (somewhat kept quiet) stopped the inter-PD violence.

    But hey, the state of Pennsylvania itself is forever branded for giving the nation President James Buchanan.
    And currently, NY’s Trump is giving Ohio’s Harding a run for the money for the most corrupt administration in US history.

  26. says

    My tiny hometown has the guy who wrote Children of a Lesser God. I’m pretty sure he moved to Florida when he was young. I’ve never heard anyone in the town even mention him. Also, I just discovered that David Wong (the guy who started grew up about half an hour north of me.

  27. consciousness razor says

    Very depressing.
    Eminem is in a superposition of (at least) four different places: Detroit, MI; Warren, MI; Kansas City, MO; and St. Joseph, MO. It’s a shame Charlie Parker didn’t make the cut for KC.
    Between those, I noticed Ronald Reagan was listed three times in Illinois.
    But then it just got kind of weird: Samuel L. Jackson is “the most wikipediaed” in Washington, DC. I’m still trying to figure that one out.

  28. Walter Solomon says

    Tabby Lavalamp, good point. Everyone I mentioned, except Nancy Pelosi, is long dead. Tupac is dead too, of course, but his death occurred relatively recently.

  29. Onamission5 says

    Current home town: Nina Simone
    Town of birth: Ty Burrell, who was in the same graduating class as my sister but attended a rival school
    Former home town: David Fincher, who I’ve never heard of before but apparently directed that Benjamin Button movie

  30. Larry says

    13 – microraptor

    Jobs did attend Reed College for a bit so that’s probably the association

  31. DonDueed says

    I did all right. The city I grew up in got Toni Morrison. My current town got Abby Kelley Foster, an abolitionist.

    The city I was born in got Dr. Phil, but that’s OK… I was only three months old when my family moved away.

  32. microraptor says

    Larry @32: I guess? I was still expecting Paul Allen or Phil Knight to beat him.

  33. some bastard on the internet says

    colinday #8

    At least I’m not from Tallahassee (Ted Bundy).

    Got the same result from the capital of my state: Salt Lake City, Utah.

  34. WhiteHatLurker says

    Margot Kidder is on the map in Livingston, Montana, where she lived for about 2 years …