For fans of the Simpsons like myself, ‘where is Springfield?’ is an intriguing question. Springfield seems like a typical American city, yet has a surprising number of features. it’s next to an ocean, so it’s either on the Pacific or Atlantic coast. In one episode Principal Skinner drives from Springfield to Orlando, and a sign says something like 2663 miles, which is about the distance from the east to west coast – therefore putting Springfield on the west coast. The way I see it, Springfield is a place based on where Matt Groening grew up. Which is:
- 1954-72: Portland, Oregon
- 1972-77: Olympia, Washington (attending college)
- 1977-present: Los Angeles (to become a writer)
Presumably Portland was the place where the Simpsons is most based on. Googling ‘Portland Oregon’ gives unhelpful images of its skyline.
An article from the Portland Tribune has helpful nuggets:
There are subtle and not-so-subtle similarities to Matt Groening’s Portland and Bart Simpson’s Springfield. Like Springfield, the Portland of his childhood had a scenic gorge, a nuclear plant nearby and a polluted river. Like Springfield, there were woods and parks and mountains and surly teenaged bullies who might beat you up.
The Groening family – mom, dad and five kids – lived in a barn-red, Cape Cod house on Northwest Evergreen Terrace, one of those dead-end streets that wind high through the West Hills. The Simpson family also lives on Evergreen Terrace.
Portland’s influence on the show is clear from the first seconds of its opening titles. The hills behind Springfield Elementary School look just like Portland’s West Hills, the center of Groening’s world while growing up.
This website has some lovely haunting old pictures of Portland – unfortunately most are dated to around 1900-1920. The picture below caught my eye in particular – it looks like it a cover of a great R.L. Stein book.
It can’t find Northwest Evergreen Terrace on Google Earth, but instead it finds Southwest Evergreen Terrace:
This is no good – the road the Simpsons lives on is straight. And look at the street view picture, it’s nothing like the Simpson’s Evergreen terrace:
Where’s NW Evergreen Terrace? If someone can find it, let me know.
Edit in 2017: Matt Groening admitted that Springfield is based on