When referring to our fair twin cities in east central Illinois, why is it that you hear both “Urbana-Champaign” and “Champaign-Urbana?” Which way is right?
The matter is probably up for much debate, but I’ll give my own personal theory. You usually hear “Urbana-Champaign” when referring to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The official address of the university is in Urbana, so it is logical that this should come first in the university’s title; many university buildings are located in Champaign, however, so it’s also important to include both cities.
In general, long-time residents of both cities tend to ignore the university’s convention, and refer to the place as “Champaign-Urbana.” Why? Again, my own theory:
- Champaign is bigger. Population in the 2010 census: 81,055; Urbana: 41,250 .
- Champaign-Urbana has a much nicer ring to it. You could almost jump rope to it, or have it as a line in a song.
- Champaign is much more important. Despite the fact that it started as “West Urbana,” in the late 1800s, it has long ago superseded Urbana in size and number of businesses. AND its mayor Don Gerard used to be in several semi-famous rock bands, and recently showed up on MTV’s list of “Hive Five: Musicians with Political Cred.”
- Champaign has a more unique name. Did you know there’s an Urbana, Ohio (with an Urbana University!) an Urbana, Iowa, an Urbana, Arkansas, and even an Urbana restaurant in Washington, D.C.? If you don’t wait to hear the end of the phrase “Urbana-Champaign,” you might confuse it with another Urbana.
- It’s a way of differentiating “townies”(locals) from “newbies”(usually students). If you’re new here, you can easily make the mistake of calling it “Urbana-Champaign.” If you want to sound like you’ve lived in the town forever, call it “Champaign-Urbana.”
- Champaign-Urbana lends itself to all sorts of interesting nicknames. Such examples as “Shampoo-Banana,” “Chambana,” and “C-U” come to mind. Using “C-U” can be really fun when combined with other stuff, such as “C-U at the movies” or “C-U later.”
Now, this is not to say that Urbana doesn’t have its charm! Urbana is home to some very important stuff (for some reason mostly revolving around food): the Annual Sweetcorn Festival, Mirabelle Bakery, Common Ground Food Co-op, Urbana’s Market at the Square (also known as the Farmers’ Market), Strawberry Fields Natural Foods; as well as being home to the President of the University of Illinois and the site of two very large excellent hospitals, Carle and Provena. I encourage you to visit all Urbana has to offer (Except for maybe the hospitals. Unless you need them, of course).
So…which is better, Champaign-Urbana or Urbana-Champaign? What’s your theory? Either way you say it, I hope I’ll C-U out in U-C. Or C-U.
For more information about both cities, look them up on Wikipedia, or visit http://www.visitchampaigncounty.org/.