You’d think getting a definitive answer to “What’s the most popular city name in the United States?” would be pretty straightforward, but it turns out the answer is “Well, it depends.”

My father-in-law shared the most common city name according to the U.S. Postal Service, which is Franklin. 28 cities share that name in postal service records. Clinton, Madison, and Washington are tied for second with 27 each, with Chester, Greenville, Marion, and Springfield in a four-way tie with 25.

The most common post office name, however, is different. It’s Clinton (26), followed by Madison (25), with Franklin and Washington in third with 24. This is because not every “city” has a “post office;” some are served by larger offices, so the postal city doesn’t always match the municipality you live in.

To make things more confusing, there’s the massive Geographic Names Information System (GNIS), operated by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). They’re the people who create and maintain the detailed topographic maps of every part of U.S. territory, including the fascinating digital “National Map” accessible on the web. They’ve been responsible for mapping and determining the names of geographic features – including cities – since 1879, so they know a lot about it.

The GNIS doesn’t distinguish between “cities” and other forms of municipalities; it’s a name database. (There are search functions to include census class codes, but adding the codes for city-type entities seems to eliminate all of the results. I confess I didn’t go any further down the rabbit hole to find out why, having already spent enough time putting my list together.) You can, however, narrow your search to “populated places” and can also specify an exact match (to eliminate the “Washington Heights,” “North Washington,” and other variants).

Since many of the top city names are based on early U.S. presidents, I decided to see how many “populated places” share their names with one (or more) of our 45 presidents (remember that Grover Cleveland is both the 22nd and 24th president due to his non-consecutive terms). A few presidents have the same surnames as others: John and John Quincy Adams, who were father and son; William Henry and Benjamin Harrison, who were grandfather and grandson; Andrew and Lyndon Johnson, who were not related; Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt, who were fifth cousins (Eleanor Roosevelt was also FDR’s fifth cousin, once removed, and she was Theodore’s niece); and George H.W. and George W. Bush, who were father and son.

Also, some place names that are presidential surnames may have been named after someone else.

With that, here’s the list of most popular “populated place” names based on presidential surnames and including some other popular city name choices: says “Fairview” is one of the most popular city names, so I looked it up in GNIS, and it’s way ahead of the others on the list. There are a lot of “fair views” to be had in the U.S., apparently.
Georgetown86Interesting that there are more “George Towns” than “Washingtons.” Perhaps some were named after King George III or other lesser Georges.
Springfield6768 if you include the Simpsons’ hometown.
Franklin60Not a president, but many “Franklins” were almost certainly named after old Ben.
Wilson52Woodrow wasn’t popular enough and served too late to be the progenitor of most of these places.
Clinton48Not Bill – not even one of them. More likely, it was George Clinton from New York, a signer of the Declaration of Independence and the fourth vice president of the U.S. (though it would be great if at least one were named after George Clinton of Funkadelic instead).
Jefferson41The answer – well, one answer – to my sister-in-law’s question about how many cities were named after Thomas Jefferson.
Marion41“Madam Libraaaaaaaaarian.”
Washington35Include variants and the number jumps to 195.
Cleveland31Cleveland, Ohio, was originally “Cleaveland” and was named after Revolutionary War general Moses Cleaveland.
Fillmore18Millard Fillmore, the 13th president, did not install the first bathtub in the White House. This was a joke perpetuated by journalist H.L. Mencken in late 1917, which persisted long after he admitted that he made the whole thing up.
Ford13There are another 16 places named “King,” Gerald Ford’s surname at birth before being renamed after his stepfather.
Van Buren13
Nixon10Sleep well knowing that none of these ten places were named after Tricky Dick.
Scottsburg7The ancestral home of my wife’s family in southern Indiana, it shares its name with six other Scottsburgs.
Grand Rapids6The second-largest city in Michigan, but there’s a second, tiny “Grand Rapids” in the western Upper Peninsula in Ontonagon County. The one in Minnesota has around 11,000 residents; Ohio’s has less than a thousand; the ones in North Dakota and Oregon are more-or-less ghost towns.
Trump2See “Nixon,” above.
Marine City1Despite ocean and lake shorelines everywhere in the U.S., Marine City, Michigan, is the only Marine City in North America. We’re Number One!
Biden0Sorry, no places named “Biden.”
Eisenhower0You can like Ike, but there are no populated places named after him.
Obama0Maybe someday.