Live From the REAL Springfield- A Quest for the Truth Begins

realspringfield-main

Over the years, one of the most hotly debated Simpsons topics has been, “Where is the REAL Springfield?”  Or at the very least…”Where is the Springfield that inspired Matt Groening to name the Simpson’s hometown, Springfield?”

It is a question that is asked of him at almost every Comic-Con press session. And after 27 years, that is a LOT of Comic-Cons.

However, as someone who “knows Matt”…or at least knows a lot of people who know Matt…or his sister…I feel that I can have a vetted and valid voice in the discussion, and have made it my life’s work (OK. That is a huge exaggeration…but it is an election year), to find out the answer!!

Now, I know that there are a ton of you out there who would like to lay claim to this honor. There are a TON of Springfield’s in the world.  Trust me. And if you don’t trust me, then take a look at this WIKI page.

That’s right. There are Springfields in every shape and size…across the entire world!! (or at least in places where they can pronounce the word “Springfield”).

But, as I will reveal over the course of several installments, I believe with my donut-fattened heart, that the REAL SPRINGFIELD is in Matt’s Home State (mostly) of OREGON!

Let the unraveling begin!!

Before we start…let me explain once again, my six degrees of separation from Matt Groening…and why it is only really THREE degrees…or maybe two…depending on how you count them.

1. My wife went to school with Lisa Groening. She is friends with my wife’s sister, and in fact went to a High School Reunion of Portland’s Lincoln HS, just this past weekend, and Lisa was there and hug out with her.

2. Lisa is married to “Hey Arnold” creator, and Emmy Award winning animator, Craig Bartlett, with whom I worked hand in hand on the “Claymation Christmas Celebration” that also won an Emmy in the 1980s.

3. Matt Groening’s first commercial comic strip, “Life in Hell” was distributed to the Eugene Weekly (a local Eugene newspaper then called “What’s Happening)…where Matt often visited in the early 1980s, while hanging out in a variety of local music and drinking establishments (which I will reveal in good time) that are also right next to SPRINGFIELD…Eugene’s “across the iron curtain of I-5 Sister City).

Not sure if that is Three Degrees…or Two Degrees…but that fact is, I am THIS close to being THIS close…to Matt.  Oh. And I interviewed Yeardly Smith on the topic, as I will reveal later.

Parts of this have run on TSTOFriends “back in the day.” However, there is loads of NEW information…and new proof!

Let the Revelations Begin!!

Eugene and Springfield share a great deal of similarities with the show. But, even after a national search promoted by the TV show, which was hotly contested, the answer of “where is the REAL Springfield?” remained ambiguous- primarily, because Matt Groening kept it that way.

But in the May 2012 issue of Smithsonian magazine, he finally made it clear that Springfield, OR. was  in fact the inspiration for the Simpson’s Springfield.

Here are excerpts from the article:

“Springfield was named after Springfield, Oregon. The only reason is that when I was a kid, the TV show “Father Knows Best” took place in the town of Springfield, and I was thrilled because I imagined that it was the town next to Portland, my hometown. When I grew up, I realized it was just a fictitious name. I also figured out that Springfield was one of the most common names for a city in the U.S. In anticipation of the success of the show, I thought, “This will be cool; everyone will think it’s their Springfield.” And they do.

Here is a link to the rest of the story…which he later tried to refute…but, that is what makes Matt, Matt. (He also has a difficult time admitting that he owns platform shoes and a pleather jacket from the 70s. OK. I made that up. Be we are the same age…almost exactly…and we all had that phase.)

http://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/matt-groening-reveals-the-location-of-the-real-springfield-60583379/

Much more is revealed in the article…but the key takeaway here is, Matt said it, and NOBODY lies to the Smithsonian (except for Ken Kesey…another well-known Eugene/Springfield native).  So…there you have it. Springfield, Oregon was the inspiration.

But the real story of Matt’s “Springsperation” is still a bit more convoluted. There are elements of The Simpsons all through the Eugene/Springfield area- some old, some new, some borrowed, some…well…total conjecture.

But, let’s start with a couple of funny facts.

MAP
Eugene, Oregon shares a blurred border with Springfield, Oregon…made blurry because it is moving…as in a constant line of vehicles down Interstate 5, the highway that separate the two cities.

But, the lines get even blurrier when you try to separate the Simpson’s from the Skinners, as you find out that Eugene is named after founding pioneer, Eugene Skinner (who was never a principle, nor named Seymore) but whose cabin, as well as Springfield can be seen best from Skinner’s Butter on the North edge of Eugene. In other words…you can See-More Springfield from atop Skinner’s Butte (that is an e, and not a Bart chalk board taunt about Skinner’s backside).

Eugene Skinner’s Cabin…which looks nothing like the Skinner House….
skinners-cabin

It gets even more confusing when you bring in Portland, Oregon, Matt Groening’s hometown, and throw in the fact that there are numerous streets and locations in Portland that share other character names (Lovejoy, Quimby, Vanhouten, Kearny, Montgomery Burn(side), Flanders, Terwilliger) and Groening’s family home on Evergreen Terrace.

But, even Portland doesn’t have a Moe’s Tavern…or not one but TWO full Simpson’s family couch statues within 200 feet of one another…and THAT is where we start our series… ON THE COUCH.

Every great Simpson’s episode starts with a couch gag, and the Simpson’s gathering on the couch.  We started our first day of exploring the REAL SPRINGFIELD, on the couch…

“The Couch” is located in the Springfield, Oregon Museum on Main Street. The docents of the museum seemed thrilled when we told them that we were writing a story for an internationally read Simpson’s fan blog. They even acted like they knew what we were talking about.

Situated there, between logging history, dairy history, old school history, and assorted other Springfield paraphernalia, was a large diorama including “the couch.” The spot next to Homer was empty…and well-worn. It was obvious we were not the first Simpson’s fans to place fanny on the red plastic. Perhaps the first that day…or week…or month (we had the museum to ourselves), but not the first ever.

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Just across the street from the Museum…less than 200 feet away to be precise, another set of Simpsons stared at us from the window of the “Sweetie’s Sweet Shop.” (try saying that with a licorice whip in your mouth).

Nothing says the “Real Sprindfield” like two complete sets of the Simpson’s within a donut’s throw of one another. And…as if to say, “Welcome Cranky,” this set was sporting U of O Duck bling and fan eye stickers..

Sompsons-Sweeties-01-23-14

Walking  briskly down Main Street and around the corner to find Springfield’s own, “Moe’s Tavern!”  I’m not making this up! And... it is owned by a guy who looks like he COULD be Moe…except his name is Mitch…but is a huge Simpson’s fan.  More on the Moe/Mitch Switch in the next Episode of Live From The REAL Springfield.

There are COUNTLESS MYSTERIES to be unraveled…and I am just the guy to do it!  I will take you to Moe’s. We’ll take you to another bar that is unquestionably the inspiration for Moe’s (called Max’s…but referenced in a Simpson’s episode as Meaux’s). And we will get deeper into the connections between Skinner, his Butte, and why Springfield and Eugene are even more like Springfield and Shelbyville, than the Springfield/Shelbyville in Illinois (which those from Illinois say makes THEIR Springfield the real Springfield…even though the two cities are separated by more than 70 miles of highways, and another town, Taylorville…which has NOTHING to do with the Simpsons. I know. I’ve been to Taylorville).

AND…we will talk to Yeardly Smith, on the dedications of the huge mural in Springfield…which was commissioned by Matt, and painted by actual Simpsons animators!

More to come…

BUT, What do YOU Think???  Is there a Springfield in your state or township or shire that should be included in the “Maybe This is the Place?” discussion?
LET US KNOW WHAT YOU THINK!

********ON ANOTHER TOPIC********
A SPECIAL THANKS
to all of you Addicts who have joined in our effort to raise funds for school supplies for our adopted school in Uganda (including our own, Alissa).  We are more than halfway to the goal with a week to go- So if you want to HELP OUR SCHOOL – CLICK HERE

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42 responses to “Live From the REAL Springfield- A Quest for the Truth Begins

  1. See I dont get the west coast – it is Springfield ma. There is a really ugly (non-Nuke) power plant just out of town. check Capitol city could easily be Boston check the marriage episode came out when ma was the only state with same-sex marriages check

    anyway just my thoughts and BTW I was working on an IT project to search for doctors and I needed a town name and I found the 46 states have a springfield

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  2. Very interested in your comments about the ‘Real Springfield’ question. Especially, the fact that Seymore Skinner means ‘see-more’ from Skinner Butte. Possibly, it means see Springfield in the distance.
    I am researching the appearance of the ‘Springfield Sign’ in the show. Both in the opening sequence and in the body of the program. The reason is that Springfield, Oregon had a sign exactly like the one depicted in the show around the turn-of-the-century an was located on Willamette heights.
    This association between history and buttes (Shinner Butte) is very Interesting. Did Matt Groening somehow know about the historic Springfield Sign and has put it in the show as a ‘sign’ that Springfield, Oregon is the real springfield. Thanks, Steve Morgan, morgansteve241@yahoo.com.

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    • There are just WAAAAAY too many connections to Oregon and Springfield Oregon to ignore. I will be continuing with the series over time.

      The show, and to some degree Matt, continue to throw red herrings into the search, but there is almost no real supporting evidence for other Springfields to be THE Springfield…and loads to support the reasoning behind selecting Oregon.

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      • This is in response to the comment from someone who said that “the Simpsons are from Kentucky.”
        I am studying the history of Springfield, Oregon, and during this process I seem to be finding interesting connections with the show.
        As it turns out, the founder of Springfield, Oregon, Elias Briggs is from Kentucky! As well as his brother Issac Briggs.
        I seems to me that Matt Groening researched local history. In addition he really likes buttes. For example, the mural in downtown Spfld. Shows the cell phone towers on Springfield Butte.
        I am working the Springfield Sign, an actual turn-of-century sign on he hill overlooking Spfld. Oregon. And its appearence in the show. As though he wants it in plain sight as a joke. Matt G. Probably wanted to see if anyone would notice. Was I the first? I figured it out in 2012 and told several city officials. Now it is mentioned on their website.

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  3. Didn’t Matt groening come out this year and announce it was Springfield in Oregon?!? Lol

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  4. Loving these post Patric! Although I was planning them for my blog – can you read my mind??

    ******

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  5. Skinner’s Butter…come on you must be making this up?

    I always assumed it was based on Groening home town

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  6. What’s the problem? Springfield is obviously located in TV-Land 😉

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  7. I’m sure I once heard that Springfield is the most common town name in the USA and that’s why it was chosen. Not sure if either of these facts are actually true, but they sound good! :0)

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  8. I don’t get the debate, they say in the show itself that they are from Kentucky. Behind the Laughter episode.

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      • The episode Behind the Laughter (season 11 episode 22) has a narrator and in the last line of the episode the narrator states: “the future looks brighter than ever for this northern Kentucky family”

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        • Red herring…placed out there to mess with everyone. Have ever been to Springfield, KY? I have. They do not remotely resemble the actual Springfield…er…uhm…THE Springfield. This is like Trump denying his involvement in the birther movement. Like I said. I’ve been to Springfield, KY…and Obama sure as hell wasn’t born there! Oh.. wait…what were we talking about again?

          Liked by 1 person

          • Sorry to burst your bubble. You asked for proof and I gave it. The Simpsons are from Kentucky, it is in the show, that is fact, you can’t deny it. You can’t just dismiss something in/from the show as ‘red herring’ because it proves you wrong.
            And I never said that Springfield, KY, resembles the Springfield of the show, just that it is said in the show they live in Kentucky. I’m sure they pulled a lot of ‘real life’ influence from other places such as Oregon and Massachusetts. The Simpsons just don’t live in those states, they live in Kentucky.

            Oh and P.S. since I know you’re new here, you might want to remember that we don’t discuss politics on this site.

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          • Yes, but the radio station in Springfield is KBBL. Reserved for Radio Stations WEST of the Mississippi. Kentucky Radio stations all start with W…therefore they can’t be located in Kentucky…so clearly the narrator was misreading the “welcome to Springfield…” sign 😉

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          • And it’s just fun to debate it…and see what inspired Groening (as he indicated Oregon inspired a lot in the show). Nothing to get hostile about…from EITHER side.

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          • Also the Wiki has this to say about the line:

            “Northern Kentucky”
            The episode refers to the long-running joke of Springfield’s unknown and unidentifiable location. The original version of Forbes’ line at the end, “The future looks brighter than ever for this Northern Kentucky family,” was changed multiple times. Scully said the writers did not want to “pin it down for the fans,” and with knowledge that the episode would rerun twice, had Forbes record several alternate locations, which were indeed seen on Fox reruns. Each of the alternate locations, including the unused “small island of Lanai,” can be found as an easter egg on the eleventh season DVD set.

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Behind_the_Laughter#.22Northern_Kentucky.22

            (this is also something that can be found on the commentary version of the episode…)

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        • Brad…trust me on this one. It is easy to refute the KY red herring. The KBBL bit immediately rules out KY…as it is East of the Mississippi. Period.

          But, there is lots more to support Springfield, OR.

          As far as politics? I am not “NEW” around here…just “back.” I wrote for Addicts in the fall of 2013. But, I agree. The Trump shot was a mistake…which is me admitting I was wrong…which is more than we will ever get from… Oh. Wait. OK. Almost did it again!

          THIS SERIES of articles is just that. A SERIES. It will reveal more details as we move forward.

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          • I’m sorry, Patric. I’m sorry, Alissa. I know this site is all about fun, as is the game and TV show we all love. It is just a subject that I feel strongly about. And I don’t even know why, I don’t live in Kentucky or Oregon, I’m from Maryland. I wasn’t being hostile, just a little smart-alecky (which is different), and for which I apologize. I truely do love this site and all the work everyone puts forth so that I can have a better accompaniment to the game.

            I look forward to debating this matter in the future, in a friendly manner of course. But, just for the record, and despite the KBBL thing, it has been said, actually in the show, that they are from Kentucky. How many times have they said, in the show, that they are from Oregon!? 😜

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          • Actually, during reruns of the show…where they aired the alternate locations to keep everyone guessing…one of alternate locations was…western Oregon. Also included were Illinois, Nebraska, Louisiana, and the small island of Lanai. 😉

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  9. To me Springfield is nothing but suburbia. The reason the place was never distinguished is because it could be anywhere. It is americana. By Matt’s background one would assume Oregon but it could be Missouri or Massachusetts. Any boring American city designed by chain stores and traffic flow. Consumerism over culture. A symbol of nothing special.

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  10. I know it couldn’t be Springfield, Ill. The amount of corruption in the Illinois state capital makes the Simpson’s home town look like Money magazine’s winner in the “Best Places to Live” contest.

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  11. This question has been pondered for twenty plus years but before this site and game came out Oregon seemed most likely to me too…thanks for more additional info Patrick…but I suppose they now live all across the world ✌

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  12. Great article. I ever watched a YouTube that went to great lengths to conclude that Springfield is in Oregon too.

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  13. Some 10 years or more back a hospital charity auction raised money by building “The Simpson’s House” here in Melbourne Australia. All goods, services, & trades were donated & the estate developer gave the block of land. The town is NOT named Springfield. Rather it is South Morang. At the time the auction went for a local record price. (Auctions are popular & well attended in Australia; Especially those houses specially built for charities)

    The house was open for inspection prior to auction & though I’m not a regular viewer of the TV show, I’m a local; so went along for a look. The details to me seemed just right from the pinkish facade & the interior even included the corncob print kitchen curtains. The house is now painted with a grey facade & has a porch area out front & blends in with the other dwellings in its street. Telling no secrets as to its origin.

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  14. I too felt “my” Springfield was the correct one. I live in MA, where we pronounce Chowder as Chowda and right after MA became the first state to legalize gay marriage, the show had Homer becoming a minister and marrying gay couples in Springfield. Although Matt says it’s Oregon, I love how the show keeps the gag going of where is Springfield.

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  15. As a native Oregonian who has lived in Springfield, Eugene, and Portland I’ve known this for a very long time and am always happy to see it confirmed 🙂 I’ve always equated Eugene with Shelbyville, anyone who has lived there totally gets it. Riding the bus back in the day you could usually guess pretty accurately which people lived in Springfield and which lived in Eugene lol.

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    • Haha! Your comment is self-validating! Everyone in Eugene looks down at Springfield as the “lesser.” But with housing prices getting out of control, a lot of the new housing is being built “along the border” just across I-5. I know loads of folks who have upscale houses in the area…and claim to be “East Eugene” but are in fact, Springfield. Too funny.

      Springfield is getting its act together. Downtown used to be mostly a mix of strip bars, pawn shops, and military/gun shops. Not so much now.

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  16. In the thoroughly delightful spirit of your post, I’m inspired to share a fun little East Coast link to the show with a few easily recognisable buildings in our beloved towns. Chelmsford MA – northwest of Boston – provided the inspiration. I can verify, having lived not far from there for a few years, the TSTO building inspirations are legit.

    Liked by 2 people

  17. I have to go again to Portland… not only to visit Powell’s hehehehe

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