July 6, 2010

The Hub of Central Oregon has rivals

Exactly when Redmond began referring to itself as the “Hub of Central Oregon” is not entirely clear.

The community’s first newspaper, Oregon Hub, began printing a year before the city’s incorporation and when its competitor, The Redmond Spokesman, began publishing in 1910 it proudly proclaimed “Published at the Hub City of Central Oregon” on its masthead.
Geography played an obvious role in the nickname; shortly after the turn of the century Central Oregon took form with five main communities – Madras, Sisters, Bend, Prineville and Redmond – and Redmond was in the center, nearly exact equidistant from them all.

But if we are the center of Central Oregon, we’re still not the center of the universe; there are, in fact, numerous communities in the U.S. that consider themselves a hub city – and many of those take great pride in the nickname.

In Layfayette, La., (“The Heart of Cajun Country”) you can eat at the Hub City Diner, shop at Hub City Ironworks and get in some practice at Hub City Rifle and Pistol Range. This southern Hub City, which will turn 200 within a decade, derives its nickname neither from geography or transportation quirks, but from its Deep South culture, steeped in Creole and Cajun history.

Way up north in Hagerstown, Md., a conglomeration of highways, railroad lines and an airport led the town to be called Hub City by some, although the community of about 40,000 also answers to “H-Town” and “Home of the Flying Boxcar.”

Alice, Texas, has many things in common with Redmond. Roughly the same size, Alice uses “The Hub City of South Texas” as its official logo. Alice, named after a rich rancher’s daughter, earned its Hub City legacy because of its location, surrounded by Corpus Christi, McAllen, Laredo and San Antonio.

The community, however, also answers to “The Birthplace of Tejano,” a popular Tex-Mex music style.

Another hub city named in honor of a loved one, Hattiesburg, Miss., earned its nickname because it’s a major lumber and transportation center and its location in the center of South Mississippi. There, you can look for work at Hub City Employment or attend the races at the Hub City Dragway.

One one-time hub city, Mt. Pleasant, Utah, also has a more modern nickname – despite its claim to fame as its county’s largest city – of “Queen City.”

Tiny Union City, Ind., picked up its nickname as Hub City when two major railroad intersected there, as did Oelwein, Iowa, (which is sometimes called “Shop City” due to its one-time wealth of rail repair shops).
Several hub cities, so-called because of their positions as a county seat, have more colorful alternative nicknames.

Phenix City, Ala., received its nickname because of its proximity to a major town, Columbus, Georgia. Much more interesting is its other nickname, “Sin City, U.S.A,” earned during its vice heyday in the middle of the 20th century.

Another, Crestview, Flor., was once known as “The Icebox of Florida” due to its cold winters.

In Crestview you can spend money at Hub City Ford, Hub City Pawnshop or Hub City Glass. No Icebox Café could be found.

Aberdeen, S.D., with rail lines intersecting it, is known more as “The Hub City of the Dakotas,” than its older alternative, “The Town in the Frog Pond,” due to persistent seasonal flooding in its early years.
Centralia, Wash., nicknamed Hub City because of its transportation routes and central location between Seattle and Portland, actually changed its real name.

“We were Centerville originally,” says Jim Valley, executive director of the Centralia-Chehalis Chamber of Commerce. “But there was another Centerville apparently and that was causing confusion.”

According to Valley, while Centralia has been using Hub City in various promotional ways since the turn of the 20th century, there’s been a recent surge in its use. The city uses a historic hub logo and numerous businesses, organizations and events have picked up the nickname.

“I’m not sure if people outside the area associate ‘Hub City’ with Centralia but it means a lot to us here,” he says.

Also on the list of Hub-themed communities are Boston, Mass.; Compton, Calif. (geographic center of L.A.); New Brunswick, N.J.,;Spartanburg, S.C.; Robertsdale, Ala.; and Belen, N.M.

Nearly all have hub-related businesses, such as Hub City Diner, Hub City Dragway, Hub City Cycles, or The Hub Theater. Teens playing at the Rochelle, Ill., high school are the “Hubs.”

Some towns use hub-themed logos for businesses, its chamber of commerce or organizations. Only a few have hub-type images in official city uses, such as Redmond began when its centennial year began in 2010.

“I like the idea of Redmond being identified with the hub logo,” says Redmond Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Eric Sande. “It would be cool to see on put on newly installed sidewalks, manhole covers, etched on windows.” He’s not sure the nickname or logo have a lot of value in tourism marketing, given the fact that many communities use the hub theme, but as a “community unification” tool, Sande says it’s great.

“If a community is proud of itself and displays a unified spirit, that show’s well to visitors,” he says. Businesses might want to use the term or a take-off on the “hub” image in marketing themselves as well, he suggests, adding to the community pride momentum.

Oddly though, a quick search of Redmond-area organizations and businesses in existence today show a single hub-related name and that one has been around for a while – Hub Motel.

-- story by Leslie Pugmire Hole

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