ATL

By Mark Skoultchi

October 26, 2005

The city of Atlanta is giving itself a name refresh. They’re new moniker: ATL. It all started with rap artist Outkast singing about “cruising in the A-T-L” in one of his songs. The Brand Atlanta Committee decided that with the pop culture reference and the airport designator also being ATL, it made perfect sense to use the letters to give a new “fresh” face to the capital of Georgia.

The notable examples of successful city abbreviations include: SF, LA, NY or NYC, NOLA, and potentially DFW (although it’s really a metro area). In each of these cases, each letter abbreviates a word: Los Angeles (LA), New York City (NYC), Dallas Fort Worth (DFW), etc. Each of these abbreviation is an intuitive replacement, and also shorter and easier to say than the original.

The two notable examples of marketing-inspired initialisms are FLA (Florida), and ATL (Atlanta). In neither of these cases is the abbreviation intuitive — they don’t shorten three longer words. Nor are the abbreviations shorter or easier to say than their original counterparts. Because of this, I find it unlikely that people will actually add FLA and ATL to their vernacular.

However, far be it from me to be able to predict the wacky world of initialisms. If FLA and ATL are the beginning of a trend, here are a few other abbreviations that cities might consider exploring:

ALBU (pronounced al-boo) – Albuquerque, NM
CGO – Chicago, IL
ELP (pronounced like ‘help’, without the ‘h’) – El Paso, TX
MPH – Memphis, TN
MIMI (pronounced mee-mee) – Miami, FL
VEG (pronounced vedge) – Las Vegas, NV
LULU (pronounced loo-loo) – Honolulu, HI
and finally
W (pronounced dub or dubya!) – Washington DC

It’s an irrelevant initialism party, and everybody’s invited to abbreviate!

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