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alkali flats

Springfield (The Simpsons)

Springfield is the fictional city in which the animated American sitcom The Simpsons is set. Springfield is a mid-sized city in an unknown state. The town of Springfield acts as a complete universe in which characters can explore the issues faced by modern society. The geography of Springfield and its surroundings are flexible, changing to address whatever an episode’s plot calls for. In The Simpsons' universe, Time magazine is said to have done a cover story on Springfield entitled "America's Worst City; Newsweek is said to have characterized the city as "America's Crud Bucket".

There are no geographical coordinates or references to US states that might identify which part of the country it represents. Nevertheless, fans have tried to determine the town's location by taking the town's characteristics, surrounding geography, and nearby landmarks as clues. Whenever an episode attempts to show or say what state it is in, the audience is somehow prevented from learning what is revealed. In one episode Lisa Simpson says that the location is a mystery and instructs the viewer to follow the clues to figure it out. In response, the show has become intentionally evasive in regard to Springfield's location.

Creation

The name Springfield was chosen by Matt Groening, creator of The Simpsons, as the setting for the show because it is one of the most common place-names in the United States. The town was partly inspired by Melonville, the town in Second City Television, which featured a large cast of recurring characters. Groening liked the idea of a town that was its own mini-universe and partially based The Simpsons on it.

The uncertain location of Springfield is a running gag in the series. There are 34 states in the United States that have at least one community with that name. Episodes frequently make fun of the fact that Springfield's state has never been revealed, by adding further conflicting descriptions, obscuring onscreen map representations, and interrupting conversational references. There has been much speculation on the location of the state. Though the state in which Springfield appears is never actually stated, numerous episodes discuss other states, thereby implying that Springfield is not located in them. A web page discussing Springfield's location states that, due to the many contradictory clues, it is impossible for Springfield to exist in any set location.

David Silverman, a director for the Simpsons, has claimed that Springfield is in the fictional state of "North Takoma". This is substantiated by the state abbreviations NT and TA used within the show. However, this has never been officially confirmed in any canonical episode of The Simpsons or by other Simpsons producers.

In The Simpsons Movie, the idea that Springfield cannot exist for real is further emphasized when Ned Flanders identifies the four bordering states as Ohio, Nevada, Maine and Kentucky, most of which are vastly separated from each other, while Kentucky and Ohio border each other with no state in between. Also during the closing credits,there is a line which reads "Filmed on location in Springfield, (-empty space-)." To promote the movie, various towns and cities across the United States called Springfield competed to hold the premiere of the movie in their town. Springfields from many different states entered the competition. The town of Springfield, Vermont was elected to host the movie's premiere. In response to this, Groening revealed that he had always intended Springfield to represent Springfield, Oregon, and his hometown of Beaverton.

History

Settlement

Springfield was founded in 1796 by a band led by Jebediah Springfield (a.k.a. Hans Sprungfeld), that, after misinterpreting a passage in the Bible, left Maryland, trying to find "New Sodom." After Jebediah Springfield refused to found a town where men were free to marry their cousins, half of the band broke away to do just that. They named their town Shelbyville, after fellow pioneer Shelbyville Manhattan, and the rivalry between the two towns persists till this day.

Mid-twentieth century

Springfield reached its pinnacle in the mid-20th century, when it became the home of the world's first Aquacar factory; one half of the U.S. was said to wear Springfield galoshes and Springfield's streets were literally paved with gold. But the town's economy collapsed when it was discovered that the Aquacar was prone to spontaneous explosion after 600 miles and/or knots. Despite the failure of the Aquacar factory, much manufacturing remains, including Duff Beer, Ah! Fudge chocolate, Itchy & Scratchy Show cartoons, Southern Cracker, a peanut, pillow, and box factory, a steel mill, and the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant.

Present day

For a brief period, Springfield divided itself into two cities because of an area code dispute. Homer Simpson, upset that he had to memorize a new area code, 939, while the rich side of town retained the familiar 636 area code, riled up the lower class citizens of Springfield to rebel and establish their side of Springfield as a separate town, to be called "New Springfield." They erected a wall dividing the two area codes and elected Homer as their new mayor. Mayor Quimby maintained control of the rich side, which came to be called "Olde Springfield." Eventually the two towns reunited when the band The Who, while in Springfield for a concert, suggested speed dial to solve the town's problem and agreed to play if the wall was torn down.

After controversy surrounding Bart Simpson's mooning of a U.S. flag defamed the town, the town temporarily changed its name to "Libertyville. Springfield briefly declared martial law by the U.S. Army when Homer Simpson and a few fellow soldiers deserted the army, and in The Simpsons Movie, to keep the toxic waste in Lake Springfield from spreading, the entire town was quarantined inside an enormous dome by the Environmental Protection Agency, headed by Russ Cargill.

Geography

Physical geography

Springfield's geography changes with the special needs of each episode. It has included forests, meadows, mountain ranges, a desert, a gorge, beaches, canyons, swamps, waterholes and waterways. Springfield is sometimes shown located on the coast of a large body of water, although other episodes show skyline shots of the city with no signs of a coastline. Major named geographical features include Springfield Gorge, Springfield National Forest, the volcano Mt. Springfield, the Springfield Badlands (also known as the Alkali Flats), The Murderhorn (a play on Matterhorn), Springfield Glacier, Mt. Useful National Park, Springfield Mesa and Springfield National Park. Wildlife includes grizzly bears in the Springfield Forest, wolves, some of which prowl into the urban areas of Springfield, vultures in the Alkali Flats, manatees south of Springfield in the coastal waters, alligators in the swamps, snow leopards and mountain goats in the mountains, and badgers in the hills.

In The Simpsons Movie, Ned Flanders says to Bart Simpson: "From here you can see the four states that border Springfield. Ohio, Nevada, Maine and Kentucky."

Climate

Springfield is evidently located in an area that receives plenty of rain, as well as heavy snow. Most of the time however, the skies are blue and mostly sunny. Springfield has also been prone to severe heat waves.

Springfield is close to a major body of water that is open to the ocean, and close to a major mountain range. It is also situated on a major river, which has cut a deep gorge. It has been subject to just about every sort of natural disaster over the years, including avalanches, earthquakes, acid rain, floods, hurricanes, lightning strikes, tornadoes, volcanic eruptions, and a (surprisingly feeble) meteor impact. The Simpsons have coped with these and survived them all, even though Homer has often been injured by them (most especially when he has been the cause of them).

In the episode "Behind the Laughter," the Simpsons were revealed to live in Kentucky.

Cityscape

The city is divided into many neighborhoods, including: Rats Nest, Bum Town, Chinatown, Crackton, East Springfield, Greek Town, Junkyville, Little Bangkok, Little Italy, Little Newark, Little Seattle, Ethnictown, Lower Eastside, Pressboard Estates, Recluse Ranch Estates, Skid Row, Springfield Harbor, Springfield Heights, Springshire, Tibet Town, flammable district, a gay district, the fast food district (Which was destroyed by Homer in the episode "E Plurbius Wiggum".), and a Russian district. There is also a housing project in Springfield called Lincoln Park Village. All of these districts are populated by the same 30 - 50 [apprx.] characters that populate the town of Springfield, though some of these characters are represented as different people at different times.

Ned Flanders, The Simpson Family, Principal Skinner and his mother, Mr. Burns, and Apu are the only characters that always live in the same location within Springfield.

Pollution

In Trash of the Titans, Homer Simpson was elected Sanitation Commissioner. After Homer spent the entire yearly budget in his first month of office, he was forced to take in the garbage of other cities in order to make enough money to pay the city's trash collectors. Eventually the mines that were storing the collected trash erupted and littered the entire city, prompting the entire city, population and structures, to literally move five miles (8 km) down the road to establish a “new” Springfield away from the massive dump that “old” Springfield had become.

Visitors to Springfield are advised to wear radiation suits and carry Geiger counters, since the city is perhaps the most radioactive in the United States. This is because the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant was built during an incredibly lax period for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the plant's nuclear core was surrounded not by several layers of protective concrete, lead and graphite but by ordinary plaster and a horseshoe hanging from a nail. Lake Springfield has also been a point of interest when it comes to pollution, as Bart once caught a a three-eyed fish named Blinky there.

Springfield is home to the state's largest self-sustaining tire fire which has been burning continuously since either 1966 or 1989.

In The Simpsons Movie, Lake Springfield was quite polluted by the trash and carelessness of the townspeople. Lisa Simpson managed to petition the town to clean up the lake, and the lake was cleaned up, surrounded by barriers, and a Hazardous Waste Center was built for the garbage of citizens. However, the lake was severely re-polluted after Homer Simpson dumped a large silo of pig waste into the lake. The lake was so polluted that a squirrel jumped into the water and emerged with multiple eyes, and the EPA came to action and sealed the town in a large glass dome, and ultimately decided to blow up Springfield by putting a bomb inside the dome. However, the dome was destroyed after Homer Simpson and Bart Simpson managed to throw the bomb on to the top of the dome, seconds before detonation. Once the dome was destroyed, it was presumed that the town cleaned the lake again.

Government and infrastructure

Elected officials

The current mayor of Springfield is Joe Quimby (D), while their representative in congress is Krusty the Clown (R). Despite being a congressman, Krusty continues to host his eponymous children's television show on a daily basis, and in fact treats congressional duties as an afterthought to his entertainment career.

Mayor Quimby is manifestly incompetent and immoral as well as being a conspicuously corrupt and fraudulent politician. He talks like JF Kennedy which is probably a parody created by Matt. Quimby is a sleazy womanizer and has had multiple affairs on his wife. Quimby vacationed to Jamaica during a flu epidemic in Springfield and used the town treasury to fund the murder of his enemies and for his acquittal when he later confessed to the crime. The citizens of Springfield are normally accepting of this conduct, except on certain issues, such as when the citizens blamed Quimby for traffic jam caused by Bart Simpson - the largest in the history of the town. Quimby has been the mayor of Springfield since the beginning of The Simpsons — so long that he’s gotten tired of having to be reelected — and has only during brief times not been mayor.

The Springfield Police Department, led by Police Chief Wiggum, is also incompetent, although he manages to foil many of the crimes in which he is involved - often by accident.

Laws

Upon reading the town charter, prohibition was discovered to have been a standing law that hadn't been enforced for 200 years ("Spirituous beverages are hereby prohibited in Springfield under penalty of catapult."). After a brief period of reinforcement, it was ended after further reading of the charter found that the law was repealed one year after its inception.

Gambling and same-sex marriage are legal in Springfield. At one point, the police department only had the budget to enforce "the last three laws passed".

Crime

Springfield crime elements include Krusty's former sidekick Sideshow Bob, the for-hire criminal Snake and a mafia, among others. The organized crime in Springfield is run by mob boss Fat Tony and his henchmen, Louie, Legs and Johnny Tightlips. They have paid off the civil servants of Springfield such as when they paid a bribe to police officers Eddie and Lou to smuggle alcohol into the city during the reinstating of prohibition Springfield is located in a state that retains the death penalty by electric chair, by catapult , the guillotine, and gas chamber. Penitentiaries that are sometimes located in Springfield include The Charles Montgomery Burns State Penitentiary, Springfield City Jail, Springfield Correctional Institute, Springfield Juvenile Correctional Facility, Springfield Juvenile Hall, Springfield Penitentiary, Springfield Prison, Springfield State Penitentiary, Springfield State Prison, Springfield Women's Prison and Morningwood Penitentiary (which was re-opened (without being cleaned up first) after having been shut down for 30 years).

People and culture

Arts and entertainment

Springfield boasts an opera house, an outdoor amphitheater, an arboretum, a vibrant jazz scene and was previously regarded as the entertainment capital of its state. There is also an unusually high number of museums, including Springfield Museum (which features the world's largest cubic zirconium), Springfield Knowledgeum, Springfield Museum of Natural History, The Museum of Swordfish, Springsonian Museum, and a stamp museum. It was also once home to a concert hall designed by Frank Gehry which promptly became a prison. Springfield based rock band, Sadgasm, created a new style of music known as grunge in the 90's.

Media

  • KBBL Broadcasting Inc. serves as the major media outlet, owning at least three radio stations and one television station:

*Television station KBBL-TV (Channel 6), features Kent Brockman, Scott Christian, and Arnie Pye ('in the Sky') on the news. It also airs The Krusty the Klown Show Starring, Krusty The Klown , Sideshow Mel, and formerly featured now criminal Sideshow Bob.
*Bill & Marty host the morning show on KBBL-FM 102.5.
*KBBL 970 AM carries a talk format including conservative host Birchibald "Birch" T. Barlow as well as a sports talk program, Jock Squawk.
*QueBBL 640 AM carries a Spanish-language format.

  • KUDD 570 AM is a Country radio station located in Spittle County, which can also be heard in Springfield.
  • KZUG 530 AM
  • KFSL FOSSIL 103 is a classic rock station in Springfield, containing hits from ABBA to Zeppelin, Led.
  • Channel Ocho is a Spanish-language television station whose most notable personality, Bumblebee Man, stars in a slapstick soap-opera.
  • The Springfield Shopper is a city newspaper.

Sports

Baseball

The town is home to the Springfield Isotopes, an AA minor league baseball team. Home games are played at Duff Stadium. The Springfield Isotopes were the inspiration for the new name of the Los Angeles Dodgers' AAA affiliate, the Albuquerque Isotopes, when they relocated to Albuquerque, New Mexico from Calgary. The plot of the "Hungry, Hungry Homer" episode revolves around Homer Simpson's attempts to thwart a planned move by the team to Albuquerque. Isotope Player Buck Mitchell's wife has stripped for the crowd trying to promote her new CD during a game.

Other sports

  • Springfield has a basketball and hockey arena, which is home to the Springfield Ice-O-Topes hockey team. The town may also have a WNBA franchise which also plays at the facility.
  • Springfield also has a large soccer field. At one time, the Portuguese and Mexican soccer teams played in that arena in a match.
  • Springfield Speedway, (an oval track where stock car races are held),
  • Springfield Downs, (a horse racing track), and a dog track.
  • Association of Springfield Semi-Pro Boxers.
  • NFL team, the Meltdowns, designed by Homer.
  • Springfield Atoms [Football] ("Homer Loves Flanders" (1F14))
  • Springfield Atoms [Baseball] ("Homer at the Bat" (8F13))

Rivalry with Shelbyville

There is a strong rivalry between Springfield and its closest neighboring town, Shelbyville, starting with the rivalry that existed between Jebediah Springfield and Shelbyville Manhattan, the founder of Shelbyville. Manhattan wanted to found a city where men were free to marry their cousins, but Springfield refused to allow it. This caused Manhattan to break away with his supporters and found the town of Shelbyville. The rivalry extends to the present day through American football and even a Lemon tree near the two towns' borders. Plays have been written which depict the rivalry of the two cities; in this case Springfield was on the receiving end of some rather obnoxious 'hooting'.

Analysis

Springfield hearkens back to the hometowns of the TV shows Matt Groening and the staff watched as children, hence the Simpsons' rabbit ear TV antenna.

Notes

References

External links

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