What’s In A City Name?


Today’s photo challenge isn’t an easy one. It’s about “name”. As such I have few photos with names I can show. I therefore turned to brand names. First and foremost, the SNCF French railways logo of the 1930s, a really beautifully crafted logo, which is head and shoulders above its modern counterpart, even if it has been greatly improved. The beautifully designed logo and the intertwined ’S’ mainly is pure marvel. Obviously, in those days, advertisers could draw and not just click on a mouse. I like the way they fit all letters into a round shape and it still looks good in spite of this. It’s creative and elegant (here on a 1950s locomotive)


Then, my friend Hervé’s GetQuanty logo at his fund raising party at the beginning of December last year. Hervé launched his company 8 years ago and built everything by himself. He didn’t receive any money from the proceeds of his business before the 4th year. At the time, I thought he was completely mad. And then I did the same 6 years later. I once was his first customer and I’m proud I helped him with his then budding business. He is doing very nicely now. Behind that name is a true human story.


Vespa means ‘wasp’ in Italian. I found that ancient scooter near Montmartre a few years ago. Not in such a good state.

Grisy Les Plâtres - Vexin - France

Painted advertisements are few and far between nowadays. They are a sign of times when they weren’t plastered against walls but painted by hand on buildings, mostly in villages at a time when drivers could think of enjoying a glass of Dubonnet (an old-fashioned Vermouth-like drink from the beginning of the twentieth century) and live to tell about it. Those days of heavy drinking and mad driving are – thankfully – bygone.

Seattle, Wa USA

Well, at least I was able to spot a couple of names which weren’t brand names. Here in Seattle on this manhole cover, the name and picture of Chief Seattle, he who gave his name to the NW Pacific City.

Seattle, Wa USA

And lastly, this handsome late nineteenth century building (1892) which goes by the name of Maynard, a name mostly reminiscent of John Maynard Keynes as far as I am concerned. This Maynard type however, has nothing to do with the economist. He was an American pioneer and a nice person, much in favour of Native American rights. He is the one who proposed the City be named after an Indian chief. What’s in a City Name?

Yann Gourvennec
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  1. I enjoyed your images as much as I did your commentary, Yann. It’s fascinating to ponder the meaning (and historical significance) of these words that roll off our tongues so often they almost become meaningless. When I get home tonight I’m going to research “Minneapolis.” I suspect it will be Swedish for “We should have kept moving south,” ha ha.

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